As a non-U.S. citizen citizen, Neil Young was reluctant to officially take part in the 2004 Vote For Change tour. But he wanted to help then-Democratic candidate John Kerry any way he could, so he decided to make surprise appearances at many of the shows. On October 2nd, Young sat in with Pearl Jam in Toledo for a killer five-song set, and the next day he sat in with James Taylor and the Dixie Chicks in Detroit – then ran over to Auburn Hills that same night to join Dave Matthews Band for “All Along the Watchtower,” “Cortez the Killer” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
But Young saved his best Vote For Change appearance for last. Early on in Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s set at Minnesota’s Excel Energy Center on October 5th, he came out for smoking renditions of “Souls of the Departed” and “All Along the Watchtower.” Later in the night, he returned for “Rockin’ in the Free World” with Springsteen, John Fogerty and members of R.E.M. While none of this was enough to elect John Kerry, it was a pretty amazing night. Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young have been friends for many years, but they’ve only shared the same stage a handful of times.