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Neil Young: Trump ‘Does Not Have My Permission’ to Play ‘Rockin In The Free World’

“He chooses not to listen to the many American voices who ask him to stop his constant lies,” says Young

QUEBEC CITY, QC - JULY 06:  Neil Young performs at Festival d'ete de Quebec on July 6, 2018 in Quebec City, Canada.  (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)

QUEBEC CITY, QC - JULY 06: Neil Young performs at Festival d'ete de Quebec on July 6, 2018 in Quebec City, Canada. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)

Scott Legato/Getty Images

Neil Young has once again told President Trump to stop playing his 1989 classic “Rockin’ In The Free World” at campaign events, even though he acknowledges he has no legal means to stop him. “DT does not have my permission to use the song ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ at his appearances,” Young wrote on his website. “Legally, he has the right to, however it goes against my wishes.”

This issue first flared up when Trump played the song in June of 2015 when he announced his campaign for the presidency. “I asked him then, in a widely shared, public letter to cease and desist,” Young writes. “However, he chose not to listen to my request, just as he chooses not to listen to the many American voices who ask him to stop his constant lies, to stop his petty, nasty name calling and bullying, to stop pushing his dangerous, vilifying and hateful rhetoric.”

Young joins a growing chorus of artists – including Rihanna, Axl Rose and Pharell Williams – who have recently told Trump to stop using their music at his campaign rallies. Rihanna sent a cease-and-desist letter, while Rose merely vented on Twitter. “Unfortunately the Trump campaign is using loopholes in the various venues’ blanket performance licenses which were not intended for such craven political purposes, without the songwriters’ consent,” Rose wrote. “Personally I kinda liked the irony of Trump supporters listening to a bunch of anti Trump music at his rallies but I don’t imagine a lot of ‘em really get that or care.”

Bizarrely, Trump is a huge Neil Young fan. He saw him at numerous New York tour stops in the mid-2000s, including a 2006 CSNY gig where he sat by Patti Smith and Salman Rushdie near the front of the house. Trump even got on the phone with Rolling Stone in 2008 to speak about his love for Neil Young. “He’s got something very special,” Trump said. “His voice is perfect and haunting. He’s 63 and I don’t think it’s changed. It’s more important than his playing, ’cause you have so many great players — but there’s just one voice like that. Whatever the hell ‘it’ is, he’s got it.”

When pressed, however, he couldn’t name a single one of his songs. “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 and Roll’ — just great stuff.”

The feeling is not mutual. “This man does not represent the character and people in the USA that I have come to know and love,” Young wrote on his website. “I’m Canadian so I can’t vote in the states, but if you can take this opportunity to make your voice heard, and vote! Keep on Rocking In The Free World.”

In This Article: Neil Young

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