Neil Young New Political Single [Review]

For the past two weeks, Neil Young has been very active in the promotion of his new political single, Who’s Gonna Stand Up. The song has received an immense amount of press as a result of an appearance on the Colbert Report, a digital distribution of the song in multiple arrangements, and a brand new music video. The song is heavily political, acting as a call to action for listeners to stand up and save the world.

Neil Young has always been an incredibly political songwriter. Through nearly every presidential administration he has posed political questions through his songs either commending or accusing current politicians. Granted, Young has spent most of his time attacking Republican presidents, especially during the Bush administration when he released the Grammy nominated Living With War record, but regardless, he covers his political bases by being an advocate of a large number of issues. Who’s Gonna Stand Up falls directly into this category of the songwriter’s legendary protest songs, accusing big business and oil for destroying the world.

Who’s Gonna Stand Up has received a few different arrangements from Young. Namely, the full orchestral version of the song is the focus of the four different renditions since that version will be on the musician’s orchestra-backed record titled Storeytone. The album will be released in November. In addition to the orchestral version of the song, an acoustic performance was released, a Crazy Horse live recording, and a rendition that highlights a child choir.

Who’s Gonna Stand Up, Neil Young’s new political single, is beautiful in all of its forms. The 92 piece orchestra backing him accents his voice warmly, resulting in the rocker not having to strain his voice in his older age. The orchestra does the impactful, epic work without Young having to screech through the noise of a Crazy Horse performance. The arrangement is consistently interesting, flowing with Young’s voice in an effortless fashion. A choir can also be heard lightly in the backdrop of the choruses. The finale of the song is reminiscent of Day in the Life, exploding into a symphonic cacophony of sound before abrupt silence.

The lyrics do not just accuse politicians, big business, oil, and fracking companies. The words of Who’s Gonna Stand Up also call to starve those who feed off of the Earth, end fossil fuel and pipelines, and to save the water and plants of the planet. It is a resounding call to action, questioning who is going to stand up and fix the problems that are arising. It states the only way to do so is to start with each and every person on the planet actively taking part in the process of fixing it.

Who’s Gonna Stand Up, Neil Young’s new political single, also received press through the Colbert Report. Young and the comedic, faux-conservative host performed the song together while Colbert stayed in character and bantered off of the classic rocker’s idealist left-wing sentiments. If the song is any indication of what Storeytone is going to sound like, then the record should prove another excellent step in Young’s ever-growing collection and progression of albums.

Review By Brett Stewart

Rolling Stone
Consequence of Sound
Photo By NRK P3 – Flickr

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