Well, we’re definitely in election season, folks.
At this point, musicians (usually liberal) requesting that politicians (usually conservative) not use their tunes is old hat. It usually boils down to arguments about campaigns running afoul of everything the artist’s music stands for.
However, Young, with his latest album, “The Monsanto Years,” has gone much further than simply waging protest over the presence or absence of ASCAP licenses. He’s taken direct aim at corporate interests he believes are poisoning the American landscape, and they have responded in kind.
“The Monsanto Years” doesn’t even debut until June 29, but Monsanto, Walmart and Starbucks are already trying to preempt its messaging.
Backed by his new band Promise of the Real, Young released a single at the end of May called “A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop.”
“If you don’t like a rock star bucks a coffee shop/Well you better change your station,
Starbucks responded with a statement to Billboard, which reached out to the corporations Young name-checks on the album.
“Starbucks has not taken a position on the issue of GMO labeling,” the company said in a statement. “As a company with stores and a product presence in every state, we prefer a national solution.”
Monsanto, Young’s biggest target, responded with disappointment.
“Many of us at Monsanto have been and are fans of Neil Young,” the company said. “Unfortunately, for some of us, his current album may fail to reflect our strong beliefs in what we do every day to help make agriculture more sustainable. We recognize there is a lot of misinformation about who we are and what we do — and unfortunately several of those myths seem to be captured in these lyrics.”
Billboard also reached out to Chevron, which refused to comment.
Walmart decided that it wouldn’t actually address the specific issue Young mentioned. According to Billboard, on “Big Box,” Young sings, “People workin’ part time at Walmart never get the benefits for sure/Might not make it to full-time at Walmart.”
In turn, Walmart highlighted the fact that it raised its minimum wage: “As you might have seen recently, Walmart raised its lowest starting wage to $9 an hour,” the company told Billboard. “We’re proud of the opportunity we provide people to build a career and have a chance at a better life.”
As for Trump? C’mon. Did he really think a guy who goes to CES in an “EARTH” T-shirt was going to be cool with him using his music as the score to his fancy-pants, gold-encrusted quest for the White House?
Of course not, but it does help Young in the sense that it allows him to publicly reassert his anti-establishment cred while Trump gets to tout the fact that he’s been publicly spurned by a tree hugger. It’s a win for everybody, right?