“You are a disgrace to my country,” Young writes in a long, scathing open letter to Trump on his Neil Young Archives website. “Your mindless destruction of our shared natural resources, our environment, and our relationships with friends around the world is unforgivable.… Our first black president was a better man than you are.”
He’s particularly irked by Trump’s usage of his song “Rockin’ in the Free World” at his rallies. Young has asked him to stop this practice numerous times while acknowledging he has no legal recourse to force him. “[It] is not a song you can trot out at one of your rallies,” he writes. “Perhaps you could have been a bass player and played in a rock & roll band. That way you could have been onstage at a rally every night in front of your fans, if you were any good, and you might be …”
“Every time ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ or one of my songs is played at your rallies,” he continues, “I hope you hear my voice. Remember it is the voice of a tax-paying U.S. citizen who does not support you. Me.”
Near the end of the letter, Young comes very close to endorsing Bernie Sanders. “One of your opponents has the answers I like,” he writes. “He is aiming at preserving our children’s future directly. He is not popular with the Democratic establishment because, unlike all the other candidates, he is not pandering to the industries accelerating Earth’s Climate Crisis, the end of the world as we know it. He is truly fighting for the USA. His initials are BS. Not his policies.”
Somewhat ironically, Trump is a big fan of Young’s music. In 2008, Rolling Stone phoned up Trump after noticing him at three of Young’s concerts over the past couple of years. At one of them, a CSNY show at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, he sat next to Patti Smith and Salman Rushdie, and stayed for the entire show.
“He’s got something very special,” Trump told us. “I’ve listened to his music for years and I’ve seen him before that, but I went to the concert where they were honoring Bob Dylan years ago at Madison Square Garden [Bob Fest 10/16/92], and Neil got up and totally brought the house down. There was nobody close. He’s performed for me at my casinos over the years, and he just brings it down. I’ve met him on occasions and he’s a terrific guy.”
When asked to name a single favorite Young song or album, however, Trump was completely stumped. “It’s sort of all favorite,” he said. “I like the older stuff better, which is typical with a lot of artists — hence the famous Ricky Nelson song ‘Garden Party.’ I like all his songs, you know, ‘Rock & Roll’ — just great stuff.… Whatever the hell ‘it’ is, he’s got it.”