Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, can’t vote in the upcoming U.S. presidential election – but the 70-year-old rocker has plenty to say about it.
In a video interview with Reuters ahead of the release of his new album “Earth,” the Grammy-award-winning singer-songwriter excused Donald Trump for using his music without asking his permission.
Trump’s use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” during the Republican nominee’s campaign launch raised heckles last June. Young’s management company released a statement at the time saying that Trump was not authorized to use the song in the announcement of his presidential candidacy.
Young now says he has nothing against Trump using his song. He just would have liked to have been asked.
“The fact that I said I was for Bernie Sanders and then he didn’t ask me to use ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ doesn’t mean that he can’t use it,” said Young, who has long lived on a ranch in California.
Young confirmed the Trump’s campaign statement that the campaign had a license agreement with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for the right to play the recording.
“He actually got a license to use it,” Young said. “I mean, he said he did and I believe him. So I got nothing against him. You know, once the music goes out, everybody can use it for anything.”
“But if the artist who made it is saying you never spoke to them, if that means something to you, you probably will stop playing it. And it meant something to Donald and he stopped.”
Young says his support for Sanders in the election race was still strong, despite Hillary Clinton’s lead in the contest for the Democratic nomination.
“He’s the only one talking about the issues, about issues that matter to me, the issues on my mind – problems of corporate control of democracy and everything slipping away and not being able to have six major companies owning all the media in the United States,” Young said.
Young has retained his Canadian citizenship. Although becoming a U.S. citizen would allow him to vote in the country’s November presidential election, he dismisses the notion.
“Oh, that would be a big ruse. I’m a Canadian. There’s nothing I can do about that,” he said.
But, he says, he will keep on talking politics, in his music and in public.
“I vote in my own way, by making a lot of noise. If you don’t want to listen to me, fine. If you don’t want to vote like I would, don’t. But I still have a voice.”
Young’s latest album, featuring live recordings of songs from throughout his career, will be released on June 17 on Reprise Records.
(Reporting by Leela de Kretser; Editing by Leslie Adler)