Do You KNOW What ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ is About?
Rock legend Neil Young is suing Donald Trump’s re-election campaign for using his music at their rallies. The Rolling Stones and others have asked that the Trump campaign not use their music but Neil Young is the first person, that we know of, to have actually filed legal proceedings.
It’s not quite as simple as “they didn’t get permission from the artist”. Many of the venues paid for licenses to play music that entitle them to the use of a very large number of songs. But, the music rights organization BMI says that the standard license issued to arenas and concert halls does NOT cover political rallies.
But, BUT…the Trump campaign has paid for a separate Political Entities License that DOES entitle them to use over 15 million songs. That list includes Neil Young’s catalog.
But, BUT, BUT…I’m not sure anyone using “(Keep on) Rockin’ in the Free World” knows any lyrics to that song other than “keep on rockin’ in the free world”. Because, if they did, they’d probably realize that song ISN’T the rah-rah pro-American anthem they think it is. To paraphrase Enigo Montoya, “You keep using that song. I do not think it means what you think it means”.
Here are the lyrics to the second verse:
I see a woman in the night
With a baby in her hand
Under an old street light
Near a garbage can
Now she puts the kid away,
and she's gone to get a hit
She hates her life,
and what she's done to it
There's one more kid
that will never go to school
Never get to fall in love,
never get to be cool.
“Rockin’ in the Free World” is actually about junkies, dumpster babies and the failure of the American Dream for millions of people. Also, it mentions global warming and gun violence. I could see it making sense at a Bernie rally but not a TRUMP rally. Heck, it’s way, WAY too radical for a BIDEN rally.
I’m not a Redhat but if I were I think I’d tell the Trump campaign they should just put Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” on a two hour loop and pray the Covid doesn’t kill everyone in the crowd before the candidate is ready to take the stage.