Caution #1: This post contains *salty* language.
Caution #2: Old, privileged, white guy whining about his ridiculous first-world non-problem.
Aargh!! Neil Young has pulled his music catalog off of Spotify. There are two types of people in this world. Those who could not possibly care less about this, and the rest of us—that’s 6,128,499 people according to Spotify’s monthly listener tabulation. 0.082% of the global population. This is a huge deal.
Remarkably, some of you might not know what I’m talking about, yet. I get that. If this was about Ed Sheeran or Beyoncé, I wouldn’t know, I might not ever know. But Neil Young! Disgusted with the popularity of antivax podcaster Joe Rogan on Spotify (forty episodes, 11,000,000 listens), Neil Young threw down an ultimatum. Him or me. Joe or Neil. Spotify had to boot Rogan off the station, or Neil would walk away.
Right now, the guy who wound up reading this liberal-ass blog post because he clicked on the Joe Rogan tag I posted is about to start protesting. “Joe isn’t just some antivaxxer…” I don’t care. I don’t care about Joe Rogan. I don’t care what he believes. Every time I click on my CNN app there’s an article about him. This has been going on for a month. Wanna know how many I’ve read? Zero. I simply don’t care.
I first read about Neil’s demand on Wednesday morning. An article buried deep down the page, where you see the crap about assholes assaulting flight attendants and celebrity divorces. An afterthought. By the time I got home from work, it was all gone. Poof, vanished. I got an obnoxious Song Unavailable message when I clicked Powderfinger, and then Cinnamon Girl, and then Into the Black.
I checked in on Eli. He was hanging out in his bedroom listening to the Buffalo Springfield, Young’s band before he went solo. Eli tried to cheer me up. “Technically, they didn’t remove everything.”
This is where the whining starts. What the actual fuck, Neil. I’ve been on Spotify exactly four days. Writing an article about a free streaming service offered by the library, I realized that the cost of Eli’s personal Spotify account, Sophie’s student account, and the Amazon Music account that allows Alexa to play music in our kitchen, was more than the cost of a Spotify family account. We lowered our expenses and upgraded our account.
I got my own login. And along with that, came Neil Young. All of it. Forty-one albums, including the new one, Barn, that’s getting mixed reviews and is really in dire need of my definitive opinion. I had my chance, four days. And now it’s all gone. No Barn review from me. Sorry Neil, you brought this on yourself.
I’m sure lots of Neil Young fans are proud of the stance he’s taking. I see the value, someone needs to hold these multi-bazillion dollar monopolies accountable. I’m sure he’s hoping other artists will jump on the band wagon with him. But do any of them even own their music anymore? Taylor Swift lost control of hers, Springsteen just sold his. The estates of the Beatles sold out decades ago to Michael Jackson. There’s no integrity any more. It’s all about making a buck.
But maybe that’s for the best. You give these artists control of their music, and they withhold it from their fans. “I think he’s being childish.” That’s what Eli says. Someone else, maybe me, would say he’s trying to censor other voices. Neil, that ship has passed. The teams are already picked. To paraphrase the Buffalo Springfield, the battle lines are already drawn—months ago. The people who want to listen to Joe Rogan will listen to him. Everyone has already made up their mind about the vaccine.
Now the people who want to listen to Neil Young need to find a different way to do it. Since I just cancelled Amazon Music, I need to explore the options. Eli just dusted off an old turntable and set it up in his bedroom. Maybe I should buy Barn on vinyl. I’m sure that would make Neil Young happy. What would make me and six million other fans happy is if he’d put his crap back on Spotify. Tweet out: Haha, JK. I guess in the meantime, there’s YouTube.
Recently Thrasher has been at the top of my list of Neil Young songs. Give it a listen.