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Neil Young’s new album, "Living with War," is an incendiary, moving, totally American document of peaceful protest that is going to make a lot of people crazy one way or another.
And there’s no doubt that the centerpiece of the album, a song called “Let’s Impeach the President,” performed as a melodic, rocking campfire ode, will be what causes the most controversy.
For one thing, though Young has lived in California since the late 1960s, his naysayers will decry him as a Canadian. Others will call him unpatriotic or treasonous.
But there are just as many fans of Neil Young who will cite him as a political poet, a hero and a troubadour working in the most traditional vein of American music.
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Certainly “Living with War” contains the most pungent attacks on a U.S. president in pop-rock since The Ramones recorded “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” in the late 1980s.
And Young reaches back to the original rock protest singer, Bob Dylan, calling out to him in one of the songs.
But this album is no giddy hit and run. It’s far more serious and searing in its assessment of contemporary life than that, and it wouldn’t matter if it came from someone born in Kansas City or Ottawa.
When "Living with War" starts streaming on www.neilyoung.com on Friday, my guess is the servers will overheat. The real test will come next week, when the album is available for downloading on several sites.
For now, though, here are the lyrics many parents are going to be hearing their kids singing in the next few days. Young has been clever enough to write the catchiest protest song since Country Joe and the Fish’s anti-Vietnam ditty, “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die.”
Here, for the first time, the lyrics to Neil Young’s “Let’s Impeach the President”:
Let’s impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door
He’s the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war
Let’s impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones
What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government’s protection
Or was someone just not home that day?
Let’s impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected
Thank god he’s cracking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There’s lot of people looking at big trouble
But of course the president is clean
More on Thursday morning about this eye-opening recording …
So while Elton John’s musical, “Lestat,” was getting a pasting from the official theater critics, you may wonder what happened to Captain Fantastic?
Indeed, around 10:30 on Tuesday night, Elton left his own shindig at the Time Warner Center and traveled some 30 blocks or so to the Hammerstein Ballroom. There, he picked up a humanitarian award from Nile Rodgers and Nancy Hunt’s We Are Family Foundation.
To be truthful, Elton looked relieved to be away from the “Lestat” disaster. He was in his element, too. Backed by Rodgers and Chic, Elton belted out two numbers, “Philadelphia Freedom” and “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues.” His voice never sounded better, and — for a cameo appearance — he really put in his all.
And all I could think was, how did this “Lestat” fiasco ever happen?
Elton was among a group of honorees on Tuesday night including Tommy Hilfiger — who stayed 'til the end of the long evening — and Quincy Jones, who ducked out early and missed Elton’s performance.
I also spotted Steve van Zandt, who’s doing such a phenomenal job this season as Silvio on "The Sopranos," and his wife Maureen, who plays his wife on the show; Bobby Funaro, who hanged himself on the show a few weeks ago; Gayle King, of “Oprah” fame, looking glamorous; plus Claude Nobs of the Montreux Jazz Festival, Montell Williams, Henry Schleiff of Court TV; Sarah Ferguson — Fergie to us; and Katie Couric, who reciprocated to Nile Rodgers because he led her Motown band at her charity function a couple of months ago.
Did I mention that after Elton departed, Taylor Dayne and Martha Wash belted out disco numbers? And the original members of Chic (sans the late Bernard Edwards) rocked the house with “Le Freak” and a killer version of “I Want Your Love”?
Van Zandt, by the way, raved to me about Bruce Springsteen’s rehearsal shows in Asbury Park over the last few days. If you don’t know, Springsteen has a new album and a tour coming.
Meantime, Nancy and Nile have done a great job with their organization in the five years since 9/11. Each year it gets better and better, and you can track the progress on their Web site.
Michael Jackson’s German logo, stamped all over his various merchandise in that country, was sold at auction this week for a measly $100,000. Wolfgang Rath, who owned the logo, sold it to a still unidentified man. No one from Sony or Jackson’s new management bid on it, however, which is odd since Germany is the only country left with active Michael Jackson fans...
The Tribeca Film Festival really got started last night in earnest with the debut of “Walker Payne,” an ambitious if not always successful drama written and directed by Matt Williams. Williams is a veteran writer/creator from "The Cosby Show," "Home Improvement" and "Roseanne." Brando-ish Jason Patric plays a laid-off miner in rural 1957 Illinois whose divorced wife, played by the disarmingly good Drea De Matteo, is willing to sell him their two small daughters so she can split. To get the money, Patric enters his beloved dog into illegal dog-fights agented by Sam Shepard. Solid performances and good direction, but the material is a little unappetizing and the ending is downbeat, to say the least. You could call it “Bite Club.” The dog, however, has a future…
More reports on "Mission: Impossible 3" while Tom Cruise shops in Paris for baby clothes for a baby he’s spent only a couple of days with since her birth (I like how he told the press junkets about changing diapers. The baby was born last Monday, and Tom took for Europe by Friday or Saturday. He hasn’t been home since then!) Anyway, the word is “mindless fun” and “a big hit” and “Philip Seymour Hoffman takes the pressure off of Tom.” Paramount should be damn happy with that report…
The aforementioned Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange turned up on Monday night to salute Mikhail Baryshnikov’s participation in the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA). You may recall Lange has a child with him. They are all such good friends, years later! Other guests included such heavyweights as Debra Winger, Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Kitty Carlisle Hart, John Guare, Ramsey Lewis and Arthur Penn…