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By David Rolland
Let's draft Neil Young. Sure, he's a 60-year-old brain-damaged Canadian who made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for "Heart of Gold." But let's ship him off to Fallujah with an M-16 anyway, because he's scamming America.
See, Young just released a new protest CD, Living With War, with a single, "Let's Impeach the President." And soon the dazed Bay Area hippie will launch a 29-stop national "Freedom of Speech '06" tour with Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Charging upward of $250 per seat, he'll preach his clichéd ten-song stinker of a new record to a grinning choir of thousands. His goals? Exchanging ideas, getting the word out, power to the people, and unification. Yeah, right.
No sane person believes music has much of an effect on politics, except for a few mush-brained burnouts and their contemporary wannabes. Even Neil Young fans don't buy the political song and dance at least, not the ones lined up recently at Tower Records in Concord, California, to score Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young tickets.
By far the most telling response came from the first person in line. That was Joe Henderson, a 49-year-old school custodian who may well be the number-one Young fan. He showed up at 7:30 a.m. Red veins laced his tired eyes, because he'd just pulled a double graveyard at a nearby high school with a busted water main. His overtime pay earmarked for a single $250 ticket, Henderson was seeing his icon in concert for the 21st time. But even in the '60s, Henderson never expected music to change things: "I'm pretty complacent. I always have been."
Young, on the other hand, buys his own malarkey. Living With War includes songs about leaders behind locked doors, even as the singer refuses interviews to the likes of Outtakes. The marquee song, "Let's Impeach the President," is as insipid as it is depressing. Its very title is the political equivalent of yelling "Free Bird!" at a show. It denotes you as a dated, unoriginal, unfunny jackass.
So let's draft Neil Young. Stick him on the wall of the Green Zone with that harmonica in his mouth and bullets whizzing by and roll the cameras. The sight of our sad, confused old Crazy Horseman limping around, yelling "I've been a miner for a heart of gold" could match the pathos of that little girl running from napalm with her clothes burned off her. That's how you rock a vote and make a buck. With televised carnage and a draft. Just ask "Ohio." David Downs
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