Sunday, November 25, 2007

Living with War by Neil Young

Listening to Living with War, Neil Young's 2006 CD, I feel thirty years younger. Like a teen who has just discovered a new musical hero, I'm listening to the album over and over again. Why did it take me so long to check it out?

Though I have always liked some of Young's music, he has never been one of my favorites. I have an old vinyl of Harvest and am always glad to hear "Cinnamon Girl" or "Ohio" but I have not collected Young. His voice is strained, and I never thought the work was consistent. Living with War surprised me with how good every song is. Most have a driving beat, and I enjoy the chorus that joins him on some of the songs. I'm not skipping any tracks when I listen. These songs all fit together well.

As you can guess if you have not listened, Living with War is a politically charged collection of protest songs. The title cut is an anthem for the peace movement. "Shock and Awe," "Flags of Freedom," "Families," and "Roger and Out" sing about the American war experience. "After the Garden" imagines how bad continuing years of war will be. "The Restless Consumer" is a rap song about corporation manipulation of truth. "Let's Impeach the President" is sure to upset George Bush supporters.

The CD has a companion website called Living with War Today. Videos of the recording of the songs, stories about the Iraq War, lists of protest songs by other musicians, and a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds of the Bush presidency can be found on this page, which looks somewhat like a newspaper. If you have the sound up, you may listen to the CD.

A look at Worldcat shows that many libraries already have Living with War, which I give an grade A for excellence. I think it is the best thing Young's ever done.

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