Neil Young has released a new version of “Shut It Down” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The track, originally released off last year’s Colorado with Crazy Horse, has been renamed “Shut It Down 2020.”
Young and his wife, actress Daryl Hannah, made a striking new video to accompany the song. It features clips of the band at Colorado’s Studio in the Clouds — where they shot the Mountaintop documentary — interspersed with scenes of the world in crisis.
Healthcare workers are seen wearing masks and stacking boxes of medical supplies in England, as packed beaches in Florida flash across the screen. “People tryin’ to save this earth/from an ugly death,” Young warns. “Have to shut the whole system down/all around the planet.”
The “Shut It Down 2020” video was made “as a document of Earth’s reaction to 2020’s pandemic,” Young wrote on his Archives site. It was inspired by fans, who submitted letters to the site to express that the track has taken on a new meaning in this difficult time.
“Ignore the actions of world leaders who are too vain to wear masks,” Young wrote. “They are not leading. Putt your own vanity away for the good of your fellow man; wear a mask in public to stop the spread.”
Young has been aiding fans who are unable to see him live by posting vintage concerts and performing his excellent Fireside Sessions, taped at his home in Telluride, Colorado. His second show, released on March 26th, included a rare “On the Beach,” marking the fourth time he’s performed the song since 1975. A third set will be released in the coming weeks.
On Saturday, April 11th, Young will appear on Willie Nelson’s At Home with Farm Aid, a digital event that includes Nelson, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews.
“These are uncertain times,” Young said in a statement. “I wish you all the best as you care for our sick, the young and old who we love so much. Sending the best wishes to all the healthcare and government workers all over the world, to all the scientists who will learn and share with us the best ways to ensure survival in our world challenged.”
“Let’s all work together and stay positive that we will find a way,” he continued. “With love to all, in all walks of life, all political persuasions, all colors. We will succeed working together for the good of our world as we are here together, hanging in the balance of nature.”