I have always been a fan of albums that are political statements. New album by Neil Young, The Monsanto Years, is a raging conceptual project Neil has created in order to spread awareness about the controversial corporation Monsanto, company that has been related to biotechnical weapons, pesticides and GMO.
The album has a narve. It is impulsive, angry and raw. It doesn’t come as a surprise, since Young has made similar albums before, such as 2006 Living With War when he protested against administration of George Bush, especially because of their military actions in Iraq. This time, he called Promise Of The Real, the band created by Lukas and Micah (sons of Willie Nelson). They are his followers on the album, acting some king of Crazy Horse. After meeting them on one of his gigs, Neil has sent them raw sketches of the songs and told them not to practice too much because he wanted to record them as spontaneously as possible. DVD documentary shows how the whole album was recorded live with the band on the stage of some old cinema.
First song they have recorded was People Want To Hear About Love. The lyrics and melody couldn’t be more straightforward and Young is not afraid of calling out some specific names. His target is not only Monsanto but also shopping malls, mobile companies and Starbucks. The songs is pointing fingers at us, as the listeners who use escapism to protect ourselves from the real world events, but it also questions the role of music stars. Are they only there to offer us easy fun or should their songs offer something more?
Workin’ Man is telling a scene from the famous documentary ‘’Food,Inc.’’ the one in which Monsanto sues the old, innocent farmer.
Even though the album is discussing heavy and dark topics, the atmosphere is not exclusively pessimistic. There is a lot of humor, catchy rhythms and adrenalin pumped by distortion of guitars and Young’s unfiltered screaming solos. Vacation from abrasive style is offered by Wolf Moon, a classical Young’s sensitive acoustic ballade dedicated to ecology. It sounds like it belongs to his 1992 Harvest Moon album.
The Monsanto Years is not a lament of an old hippie, it is a rebellious act of a sixty eight years old man who refuses to give up on his ideals. The years didn’t change him. He is not lost in time. While it might not be his best release, it has a strong social message. Today is a bad day to do nothing. Make a change today.