Neil Young + Promise Of the Real’s Call to Arms

‘The Monsanto Years’ is a Reality-Inducing Album

Neil Young’s latest project is a reality-inducing album, which asks listeners to wake up and respond to the ecological destruction that threatens our common home. The controversial Monsanto Company — which formerly produced DDT, Agent Orange, PCBs, and bovine growth hormone, and currently represents a huge threat to independent farmers as well as biodiversity with its against nature GM seeds and patents — is the chief villain of Young’s harvested song cycle, reaping his wrath for the sick seeds the company has sown. “A New Day for Love” is a call to arms, while the poignant “Wolf Moon” finds Young paying reverence to nature, despite big industry’s misuse of her.

On “People Want to Hear About Love” Young and the band address the moral torpor of the apathetic masses with the bitterly cutting lines, “Don’t talk about the Chevron millions going to the pipeline politicians… Don’t talk about the corporations hijacking all your rights… Don’t mention world poverty, talk about global love… Don’t say Citizens United has killed democracy.” “Big Box” finds Young righteously railing, “Corporations have feelings, Corporations have soul / That’s why they’re like people, just harder to control / They don’t want to fall, so when they fall, they fall on you / Too big to fail, too rich for jail.” The clever and blackly acerbic “A Rock Star Bucks a Coffee Shop” calls out Starbucks and Monsanto for suing the state of Vermont to block GMO labeling, and “Workin’ Man” tackles Monsanto’s egregious lawsuit against Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman. On “Rules Of Change,” Young — evoking Chief Joseph as much as Johnny Appleseed — tells it like it is: “No one owns the sacred seed / No man’s law can change that / Seeds have floated, birds have flown / Seeds have traveled far from home.” In the tradition of the late, great legends John Lennon, Bob Marley, and Joe Strummer, Young urges us to imagine and make manifest a world where we stand up for our rights against those who would impose complete control.

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