About two weeks ago Neil Young released his new album, largely a protest piece against President Bush. I actually picked up more buzz on the topic before the release than I have since, and that fact may support my feelings on the subject.
I've been a Neil Young fan for a while now, even seen the guy in concert, but when I got the news about his protest album I yawned. The guy has every right to say--or sing--what he wants on the subject, but I'm not so sure it's going to have much of an impact. It's hard to argue that protest rock has done anything significant since...well, Neil Young's "Ohio", to tell the truth.
Here's my reasoning: When Neil and Stephen Stills and Barry McGuire and Bob Dylan started doing their stuff back in the 60's, it was a novel thing. More importantly, it was perceived as coming from the heretofore unheard voice of youth. And poverty. When Neil Young puts out an album today, or when Bruce Springsteen puts together an anti-Bush concert, it's not rallying a bunch of poor kids; it's a bunch of old millionaires drumming up publicity. It doesn't have the same effect.
Another problem: for the most part, Neil's album is just going to blend in with the white noise wall of anti-Bush sentiment that has been almost overwhelming for almost six years now. Even if it is well-written and well-produced--which it probably is--is it really going to change anyone's mind? The converted will scream, "right on!" and the loyalists will mutter, "there goes another one." The rest of us will probably just go, "cool guitar" and skip our iPod's to the next track.
Again, Neil has every right to follow his heart and say what he feels needs to be said. Whether I agree with him or not has nothing to do with the argument. My point is merely that the 60's was the 60's, and I'm not so sure their icons can make the same impact today.
Now maybe if Neil put Lindsey Lohan on lead vocals...