Ol’ Neil Young has been singing about environmental concerns for more than 40 years. The new album The Monsanto Years has some pretty strong words for the Monsanto camp. It’s a pretty bold stance for an artist to take, but would you really expect anything less than a “David vs Goliath” size battle with Neil? I thought not.
One can’t ponder Neil Young without considering his activist heart. The album The Monsanto Years was inspired by a 10 minute short called Seeding Fear, that tells the heartbreaking story of a man who battled the mighty Monsanto in court. He won (the video short says “hands down”), but lived the rest of his life in fear of another lawsuit.
The songs are a little folk-grungey and intentionally so. It’s evident that the album isn’t meant to be a perfectly polished, gleaming ball of slickness. It’s honest with a few rough edges. Neil’s voice has been with us for so long that whatever he sings just fills up your belly like a big bowl of your favorite comfort food. The only question is: are we satisfied simply in the hearing, or will we make changes that make our collective existence better?
The songs are varied in style, with some steel guitar and harmonica strategically placed to give it a “Neil Feel”. The song “Wolf Moon” is a winsome tune, almost like worship or wooing the moon. It might remind listeners of the older Young ballads. The song “A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop” is an upbeat tune with lyrics that some of us will want to chime in on: “I want a cup of coffee but I don’t want a GMO/ I’d like to start my day off without helping Monsanto”. The sentiment from the song “A New Day for Love” is a call to the listener to do something, maybe anything to affect a change for the better: “It’s a bad day to do nothin’/ With so many people needin’ our help/ To keep their lands away from the greedy/ Who only plunder for themselves”. All in all, it’s pretty decent listening- probably a good addition to the collection of current fans.
Neil Young is an absolute legend and the energy that he brings to his topics is nothing short of admirable. He’s using his well earned status to raise awareness about some things that really matter and that in itself is an effort worth supporting. There may not be any pop “big hitters” in this gem, but what really matters is that his voice is still ringing out.