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Neil Young's protest album heads to Internet first


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Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:08 PM ET

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Neil Young's newly recorded protest album Living With War, including a song calling for the impeachment of President Bush, will be posted for free Internet streaming next week, his label said on Friday.

Starting April 28, fans can log onto Young's Web site, www.neilyoung.com, and listen to the 10-track collection in its entirety, free of charge, said Bill Bentley, a spokesman for Warner Music Group's Reprise Records.

The album will first become commercially available as a digital download beginning May 2, "and we plan to get it into retail stores as soon after that as we can get them manufactured," Bentley said.

He said the label anticipates getting the album into retail outlets between May 5 and May 15. "Neil wants this album out there as soon as possible," Bentley added.

The Canadian-born Young, 60, who has tackled social and political themes through four decades as a singer-songwriter, wrote and recorded his latest studio offering over a two-week period this month, backed by a 100-member choir, according to his longtime manager, Elliot Roberts.

Much of the album conveys a sense of outrage, vowing repeatedly in the title track "to never kill again," mocking Bush's conduct of the Iraq war in "Shock and Awe" and calling for his removal from office in a provocative song titled Let's Impeach the President.

The album also strikes a chord of empathy with soldiers separated from their families, and features lyrics ridiculing America's consumer culture, political corruption and religious fundamentalism.

Juxtaposed to Let's Impeach the President is one of the album's more hopeful selections, Lookin' for a Leader, with such lyrics as: "Someone walks among us ... and I hope he hears the call. And maybe it's a woman, or a black man after all."

The album closes with an a capella version of America the Beautiful.

Young, who voiced support for Bush's efforts to expand law-enforcement powers in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, acknowledged in published remarks on Friday the provocative nature of his latest work.

"You're always going to rub someone the wrong way when you sing, 'let's impeach the president,"' he told the Los Angeles Times. "But that's what this country's all about -- being able to express your views."

Young's new set comes just seven months after the release of his last album, Prairie Wind, which has sold about 450,000 U.S. copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

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Good for Neil. He gets it. After The Dixie Chicks got mauled by the right wing echo machine, everyone was afraid to express themselves. By the way,they were right about Bush. Unfortunately, America got fooled again and we are stuck with these guys for three more years. Also, I paid $3.39 for a gallon of Regular gas yesterday, here in SoCal. $3.39!!!!

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I think the right wing press ( Fox News, Limbaugh etc., did a great job of turning the Dixie Chicks into "numbskulls", because that is what they do best. They marginalize anyone who speaks out against this administration. I think finally, America has realized they have been duped. The propaganda does not work anymore.

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The media inflamed the situation, but I recall the Chicks did a pretty good job of making themselves look bad. See here:

fter hitting number one for their country album "Home" in the United States, Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks decided to throw a sucker punch at President Bush while on a concert tour in London on March 10th.

Maines told the London concert audience:

"Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."

If they were looking for a reaction, they certainly didn't have to wait long. Radio stations across the country have been busy dropping their music like a rock. Angry phone calls flooded Nashville radio station WKDF-FM on Thursday, some calling for a boycott of the Texas trio's music.

Jeff Garrison, program director for KILT in Houston said, "People are shocked, we've got them off the air. They cannot believe Texas' own have attacked the state and the President," Garrison said.

At Dallas radio station "99.5 The Wolf," program director Paul Williams said, "the comments touched a deep nerve in Texas because they came from one of the biggest country groups to come out of the state and were directed at a President who calls Texas home."

WDAF-AM (610), 61 Country, in Kansas City even held a Dixie 'chicken toss' party, where Chick critics were encouraged to dump the group's tapes, CDs and concert tickets into trash cans. WDAF program director Ted Cramer said about 100 people showed up, and the 125 or so CDs collected will be shipped back to the band's record label.

From the Dixie Chicks website:

3/12/2003 - "We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our governments' position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding. While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost."

3/14/2003 - (Maines) "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers' lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American."

[update - 4/3/03 - Dixie Chick Natalie Maines told a New Zealand TV reporter last week that her now-infamous slam at President George W. Bush 'was a joke']. more...

Founding Chicks sisters Martie Erwin Maguire, 33, and Emily Erwin Robison, 30, have not said whether they agree with the outrageous statement, but their silence seems telling. If they are as furious as most of America, they must be pondering their decision to dump former lead singer, Laura Lynch, who they replaced in 1995 with the loud-mouthed Maines.

Strike Two. Natalie Maines, 28, previously escaped scrutiny last year, when she called country singer Toby Keith's pro-America song 'Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,' "ignorant," and said the tough-talking song "makes country music sound ignorant." No boycott was ever called.

[update: Country singer Toby Keith won three Country Music Television awards for his controversial post-11 September track Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue on April 7, 2003].

Apparently Maines didn't learn much after the September 11 attacks. The American people have become much more patriotic, and while there are many opinions about the war in Iraq, there are also many casualties for those that speak out on subjects that are considered by many as un-American.

The outrage includes angry letter drives and petitions mass-mailed to studios and networks taking on the likes of Martin Sheen, Sean Penn, George Clooney, Susan Sarandon, Nelson Mandela, Jesse Jackson, and others, for their antiwar views.

Many of these letters and petitions wrongly call the liberal groups and their allies "traitors," but undoubtedly, the Dixie Chicks will be prominently added to the list, and it certainly won't do much to increase their fan base.

A new use for duct tape. At KSCS/96.3 FM in Arlington, the station took a poll from its listeners Friday, and as of Monday morning 93.2% said "No they don't agree with her comment." The station's Web site included a picture of the Chicks with tape added over Maines' mouth. "Natalie Maines is not paid to espouse her ideas on stage," veteran morning host Terry Dorsey said in an interview on sister station WBAP/820 AM. "A lot of people get up on stage and start talking about something they know nothing about."

This opinion is echoed by many, where celebrities go shooting off their mouth, then run for cover once they are exposed.

On March 6, Frontiers of Freedom (FOF), a non-profit think tank, sponsored a public debate between ten of Hollywood's loudest antiwar activists - and military experts, about the war in Iraq. George Clooney, Mike Farrell, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen, and Barbra Streisand were among those invited to the National Press Club in Washington, DC — but NONE of the celebrities showed up for the event.

Despite the continued shock and outrage, Maines still doesn't get it. On March 12, she added on the official Dixie Chicks website, "One of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view."

As the Dixie Chicks are quickly finding out, the American people are also free to voice their opinion on whether or not to buy their albums and concert tickets.

Strike Three. New York Post columnist Neal Travis reported on August 10, 2000 that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had enlisted the country gal band to strip for PETA against fur. The story also ran in USA Today on the same day. There were immediate denials from the Chick's camp. "The Dixie Chicks do not support PETA," said Maura Mooney of Front Page Publicity, the group's Nashville-based public relations firm. ("E-mail blasting Dixie Chicks hits false note," Roanoke Times & World News, Aug. 15, 2000).

Assuming the Chick's response was truthful, the media immediately dropped all PETA-Chicks stories.

Fur Flies. The Chicks then started showing off a "Got Milk?" ad, to 'prove' they didn't support PETA. Unfortunately, pictures speak louder than words, and the resulting 'cover-up' is the final straw for many fans whose intelligence has been underestimated by the Chicks for years. (about PETA)

In the most recent controversy, the Chicks only started clucking to a different tune - and releasing a lame apology to the President - days later after watching their CD sales plummet, support for their U.S. concert tour evaporating, 29 percent of country stations refusing to play their music, and [update] a 42% slide in record sales in the stores.

At a precarious time when U.S. troops need our support the most, one would think that the Dixie Chicks would be smart enough to understand the sensitivities of the American people, and realize the last celebrity to be so vocal about Bush is now 'Center Square' on Hollywood Squares.

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You are missing my point. I don't care if it's the Dixie Chicks or Elenore Roosevelt. The point is, they disagreed with Bush and their music was taken off song lists at some goober country radio stations. So what. The point is that is what America is not about. You should not be "punished" for your views. I thought Toby Keith's songs were sophomoric junk, but he had the right to sing them.

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