By Ben Pensant
Amidst the joy provided by the slow, painful cancellation of alt-right loser Joe Rogen, it’s been easy to forget the man who kickstarted the glorious witch-hunt in the first place. So much so that most fresh-faced modern leftists have done just that and would struggle to pick Neal Young out of a police line-up. (Not that the Canadish troubadour would ever do anything worthy of arrest, unless caring too much, being one of the Good People, or playing ear-shredding six-hour guitar solos have suddenly become illegal.)
Which is why it was so refreshing to see Young once again make a valuable contribution to the war effort, rejoining the battle against podcasters saying what the hell they like as only a mega-rich celebrity can: by urging Sportify employees with considerably less financial security than him to quit their jobs in protest at their bosses’ refusal to censor a comedian. Perfect.
Because if millionaire Neal can sacrifice a few quid then why can’t they? Indeed, since losing out on the 0.0000001pence per track he received from Sportify, Young has selflessly taken a considerable hit by making his back catalogue available through a less lucrative but far more socially aware platform, proudly telling fans that his music can now be purchased via obscure, non-profit streaming collective Amizon. He can now hold his head high knowing you’ll no longer find Tonight, Tonight on a site that lets a loud-mouthed cueball talk to people Young disagrees with but are free to buy his output from a plucky little indie that spies on warehouse staff, makes them work 8-hour shifts without breaks, and is run by a man so wealthy he lives in outer space.
So as promised last week, I’ve spent the last few days educating myself on Young’s history of activism for the benefit of both my seven younger readers who’ve never heard of him and the five middle-aged ones who know him only as that bloke who sang the first line on Feed the World. So here, in honour of the man who initiated the anti-Rogen juggernaut, are Ten Other Times Neal Young Fought Fascism…and Won!
10. Young famously refused to be filmed during CSYN’s seminal Woodstock show in 1968, but few know the reason why. Smeared at the time as a pretentious diva, in actual fact Young had recently returned from lodging with a family of Aboriginals in the Austrian outback, and having studied the tribe’s unique customs had become convinced that if someone pointed a camera at him he would turn to stone.
9. The family of superstitious savages that so enchanted Young also played a part in his first bust-up with guitarist Stephen Stilts, after Young refused to join the band for an anti-war gig in Joshua Tree because he was terrified he might get left behind in the desert and eaten up by a bunyip.
8. Friction arose early on in CYNS when founder Nash Bridges started dating singer/songwriter Joanie Mitchell, fully aware that Young was besotted with the barefoot folk goddess. After locking himself in the Whiskey-a-Goo-Goo toilet and refusing to come out until Mitchell dumped Nash, the amiable scouser eventually persuaded his bandmate to vacate the cubicle by promising to allow lovesick Young to visit his apartment once a week and sniff his fingers. Mitchell split with Nash months later but he and Young remain friends and their deal remains in place to this day, much to the delight of their respective wives and mistresses.
7. Young’s rocky relationship with the rest of the band soured beyond repair in 1970, when he refused to play another note for the supergroup until helium-voiced drummer Dave Crosby publicly disowned his racist yuletide hit White Christmas. Crosby refused, and Young left CNSY for good, unimpressed with Crosby’s subsequent attempts to atone for his bigotry by reinventing himself as Black sitcom star with a penchant for chunky sweaters and raping unconscious women.
6. Following the success of debut solo album After the Harvest, Young moved to hip Stan Laurel Canyon, immediately falling out with neighbour Don Henly of The Byrds, after the coke-addled frontman insisted on loudly rehearsing his soon-to-be hit single El Mariachi at all hours, bringing back painful memories of the Mexican Dawn of the Dead celebrations that terrified Young as a child. Henly eventually agreed to never perform the track within twenty feet of Young in exchange for the guitar god promising to lend him his BMX twice a month, though to this day Young still hides under his bed every time he hears the song just in case a zombie skeleton with an enormous moustache comes to get him.
5. Much has been made of Young’s support for Ronnie ‘Ronald’ Regan, the right-wing warmonger famous for getting shot and living with a talking monkey. What is less documented is why. In 1985 Young was terrified that Regan’s Star Trek programme would lead to nuclear war with Panama so decided to engineer a chance meeting with the doddery president. Approaching him at a Hollywood party, Young played on Regan’s fondness for all things simian by telling the POTIS his grandfather was Mighty John Young, star of magic gorilla flick Mighty John Young. Having earnt the actor-turned-dictator’s trust, he promised to publicly back Regan’s fascist tax reforms if the Republicans agreed to make a hefty donation towards a luxury sanctuary for retired performing apes, such as Young’s grandad, Clyde from Smokey and the Bandit, and Orville’s best friend Chuckles.
Regan loved the idea and Young duly endorsed him, only to call Regan’s bluff months later by putting both his generous donation and the thousands of tax dollars Young saved into a secret swiss bank account where it remained untouched, a stark example to the world that even geriatric chimps draw the line at receiving blood money. Furious Regan was unable to expose Young’s clever ruse without incriminating himself and never forgave the crafty singer, who had the last laugh when, as a result of the President’s corruption, Clyde and Chuckles were sent to low-grade zoos to see out their final days locked up in filthy cages and eating their own feet.
4. The same right-wingers obsessing over Young’s ‘support’ for Regan have also been whining about ‘homophobic’ remarks he made during the AIDS crisis of 1986, when he appeared to express unease at ‘faggot’ supermarket staff touching his potatoes. Needless to say, what these trolls missed is that in Young’s native Canadia the word ‘faggot’ means ‘marginalised person’, and there were few ’80s Americans more marginalised than grocery packers. As socially conscious as ever, Young wasn’t worried about the faggot infecting his spuds with AIDS, he was concerned that the faggot might catch something from the genetically modified vegetables the faggot was handling.
Because as well as censoring podcasters and stealing money from elderly orangutans, Young’s other passion is campaigning against GMRs, the dangerous hybrid crops widely believed to be safe unless you frequent the kind of forums where they’re widely believed to make babies’ brains melt. As a strong advocate for scientific fact, Young has been passionately opposed to Frankenstein carrots for years, and even made a whole album about them in 2015, which took pointed swipes at Wallmart for selling coffee laced with pesticides that cause autism.
Happily, the mountain of evidence suggesting GMAs pose no health dangers has done nothing to dim Young’s position, and he often spends his days off cruising supermarkets warning checkout faggots to wear masks and gloves, unless they’re Joe Rogen fans in which case they can shove their mutant mushrooms up their faggoty arseholes.
3. In 1993 Young and Crazy House recorded Sleeps With Rust, a poignant tribute to Nirvana frontman Kurt Vedder. Sadly, two years later Kurt took his own life, disrespecting Young by quoting a line from the song in his suicide note without permission. Within weeks the line – “It’s better to burn out than to re-record not fade away/Re-record not fade away” – was plastered across t-shirts, posters and magazine covers, with all the proceeds going to Kurt’s widow Courtney Cox.
Via the pages of Rolling Stones magazine, furious Young pleaded with the dead rock star to either remove the lyric immediately or give him 50% of all profits generated by the blood-splattered missive. Kurt ignored Young and to this day the deceased grunge icon has neither given Young a penny nor apologised for stealing his intellectual property. Luckily, Young got his revenge two years later by recording his next album Wrecking Ball with a new backing band – socially aware sex-rockers Soundgarden, who Kurt famously loathed. In a final ‘fuck you’, they played Sleeps With Rust every night on tour, cheekily changing the infamous line to “It’s better to burn out than to be a money-grabbing dead junkie who smells of shit”. Take that, blondie!
2. In 2014 Young’s streaming company Pongo was struggling to stay afloat, forcing Young to do what all rich liberals do in times of financial need: ask a greedy capitalist to bail them out. This led to Young going cap-in-hand to President Pussy-Grab himself, a supposedly embarrassing fact utilised by Rogen fanboys as an example of Young’s hypocrisy. But what these cultists are too idiotic to see is that Young deliberately sought Trump’s help in a clever attempt to bankrupt the orange-bollocked Nazi, depriving him of the funds to launch his election campaign and sparing progressive celebrities the horror of being forced to spend four years crying about the President’s tiny hands and balloon knot mouth.
Naturally, tight-arsed Trump declined the offer and Pongo went under. But Young had the last laugh a few years later when he started shagging that blonde lass out of The Little Mermaid.
1. In 2020 Young sold half of his back catalogue to investment giants Hippognosis. Hippognosis are part-owned by even more gigantic investment giants Blackstones. Blackstones’ senior advisor used to be CEO of Tizer. Tizer are the company who make the Covid vaccines Joe Rogen has been spreading misinformation about. Hmm…
Alt-right trolls have been widely derided as tinfoil-hat-wearing loons for suggesting the tenuous thread linking Young to Tizer via someone who hasn’t worked there in 12 years proves that his beef with Joe Rogen is motivated not by concerns about public health but because he’s a Big Pharmy shill. And for once the trolls are right. The only thing they got wrong was their knuckleheaded belief this is a bad thing.
Because Young joining forces with Tizer to shaft Spotify several years before they or Covid even existed must surely go down as the great man’s finest achievement yet. When the history books are finally re-written, it will be this epic stand that is regarded as his moment of glory, even more so than the seminal version of Rockin’ out the Free World from Glastonbury ’95 which went on so long his harmonica fell asleep.
Rugged glory indeed.