Neil Young Again Lashes Out At Trump Over Unauthorized Use of Music

Trump played three of Young's songs during a Fourth of July event at Mount Rushmore

Neil Young and Donald Trump

Neil Young considers Donald Trump “a disgrace to my country,” so you can understand his furor over the repeated, unauthorized use of his music at campaign events. Last night, during Trump’s super racist Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore, at least three of Young’s songs played aloud: “Keep on Rockin in the Free World”, “Like a Hurricane”, and “Cowgirl in the Sand”

Young responded to a clip of “Rockin in the Free World” being played by writing simply, “This is NOT Ok with me…” He later quote tweeted a second clip, writing, “I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux & this is NOT ok with me.” (For context, the Lakota Sioux was the indigenous group of people who were forced off their land and saw their spiritual shrine “The Six Grandfathers” turned into Mount Rushmore.)

Young has repeatedly sought to stop Trump from playing his music to no avail. When Trump played “Keep on Rockin in the Free World” at an event announcing his run for president, Young responded with a sternly worded open letter: “I do not endorse hate, bigotry, childish name calling, the superficiality of celebrity or ignorance,” he wrote at the time.

He also encouraged Trump to read the lyrics to “Keep on Rockin in the Free World”, which was written in response to George H.W. Bush’s administration and paints a grim portrait of modern America.

In a follow-up letter posted in 2018, Young said that Trump had chosen “not to listen to my request [to cease playing Young’s music] just as he chooses not to listen to the many American voices who ask him to stop his constant lies, to stop his petty, nasty name calling and bullying, to stop pushing his dangerous, vilifying and hateful rhetoric.”

Earlier this year, after becoming a US citizen with the express purpose of voting against Trump in the upcoming election, Young once more discussed the unauthorized use of his music. Writing directly to Trump, he said, “Every time ‘Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World’ or one of my songs is played at your rallies, I hope you hear my voice. Remember it is the voice of a tax-paying US citizen who does not support you. Me.”

As the performing rights organization BMI recently explained to Deadline, the Trump campaign has a Political Entities License which provides them with access to more than 15 million musical works in BMI’s repertoire. However, the license includes a provision that allows BMI “to exclude musical works from the license if a songwriter or publisher objects to its use by a campaign.” The Rolling Stones recently did just that, and are now threatening to sue Trump if he continues to play their music. Perhaps Young can join them in the suit.

Or, we can just all vote the hack out in four months, so we never have to hear from him again.


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