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Living With War

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 9 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Music Canada
  • ASIN: B000FI9OSG
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #44,996 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. After the Garden
2. Living With War
3. The Restless Consumer
4. Shock and Awe
5. Families
6. Flags of Freedom
7. Let's Impeach the President
8. Lookin' for a Leader
9. Roger and Out
10. America the Beautiful

Product Description

Even if you don't agree with Neil Young's politics, you can't help but be daunted by the intersection of his genius and ire on his second album in less than seven months. It is the very rare artist who is able to channel indignation and moral disgust in such a coherent and forceful way--without sacrificing any of the vivid imagery, passion, or the high level of musicality that we have come to expect from him over the past four decades. But that's not what elevates this album: it's his pure, naked, visceral reaction to the Bush administration's foreign policy, building on a canon of outrage that he began with 1970's "Ohio," penned in the wake of the Kent State student deaths. But here he goes one better, filling in the lines that he began to draw on 2003's Greendale about a family caught in changing times. But Young's done with musing about lost ideals. On Living with War, he demands much more from his audience, and himself. This is nothing less than a call for fearless action in extraordinarily fearful times. --Jaan Uhelszki

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Format: Audio CD
Living with War is Neil Youngs latest and probably strangest album he's ever done. Some of the old rockin' hippies style and guitar flare is evident here but from a purely musical and artistic standpoint the album feels and sounds a little empty.

However, from a lyrical and spiritual perspective, one gets nothing but the honest truth and a powerful cry for justice and freedom for America and the world.

Some of the tracks sound and feel a little silly, (a little forced as well.) That's about the only thing that is obvious. Neil gets very personal and is purely sympathetic throughout the album for the victems of War and serious human problems like poverty, senseless death, children scarred and so on. The messages within the lyrics speak volumes. Very high conscience for the suffering that this latest American v.s. Iraqi conflict has inevitably created.

Also there is a genuine all out attack on President George Bush.

And most importantly, a great cry for peace and brotherhood.

Largely the album is enjoyable do to the force of intent that you feel Neil has expressed in this album. To do something to help and to give an answer and to really say something, but every track feels rushed and not very well played or thought out at all. It sort of comes across as a demo. The best song on the album for me was the good ole "America the Beautiful" which is all gospel in its rendition and has no Neil in it that is audible.

Its an anti-war album with class and good intentions but its a big splash in stead of a smooth ride. Not the best of Neils work. Its an obvious album to enjoy if you are anti-war but the album in its entirety is not fabulous.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Russell on Sept. 30 2006
Format: Audio CD
The issue of Neil Young's politics has been a contentious one ever since he put out "Ohio" as part of CSNY waaaaaaay back in 1970, a powerful song that definitely dumped Young into the bleeding heart liberal category of rockers. This is the man who gleefully announced Nixon's resignation onstage four years later, but also stated "Even Richard Nixon has got soul" in his 1976 song "Campaigner". For a Canadian (who maintains his Canadian citizenship, no less, even though he's resided in the States since the mid sixties), NY got extremely patriotic and jingoistic towards America by the time of 1980's "Hawks And Doves"; he then went on to spend most of the decade supporting and praising the hardline conservative Reagan administration, to the dismay of many fans and critics.

But so much for the history lesson...coming on the heels of the remarkable "Prairie Wind" album, NY brings us "Living With War", recorded over four days with his Prairie Wind rhythm section, as well as a 100-voice choir and trumpeter, both of which add very distinct melodic touches to these ten tracks. From a musical standpoint, one has to wonder why Young didn't make this record with Crazy Horse, since musically it would be right up the Horse's alley (minus the ten minute guitar solos). Anyway, as was mentioned everywhere from CNN to Jon Stewart's "Daily Show", "Living With War" is essentially a ten song rant about the failures of the second Bush administation post-9/11 and especially their adventures in Iraq. On this album, Neil Young makes his feelings about these issues painfully clear, he is clearly against the war, and his outspokenness on the subject should endear him to the left wing/anti-war movement everywhere.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 356 reviews
352 of 399 people found the following review helpful
Not for the faint of heart May 9 2006
By Randolph Von Dingleton - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is electric Neil, not acoustic Neil.

I'm one of those people who is (I suppose) middle of the road and when i heard about this album was interested in how Neil would deliver his 'message'. Well, it's direct. Brutally so.


Shock and Awe is an all time classic Neil song (think Rockin in the Free World on steroids). Bank on that. The Restless Consumer is another great song. Families is a toe tapper. Let's Impeach the President is, well, a pretty decent song (musically a cousin to Powderfinger) but the lyrics are -well wow (Flip/Flop). Listen yourself. There are very few weak moments on this album. This isn't Harvest, Rust or Everybody Knows - but it's a good CD if you like electric Neil.

As someone wrote earlier, this may be the best protest 'album' ever recorded. It is sure to elicit some type of response from you, positive or negative. That's why it gets 5 stars. I highly recommend this album.

If you ever (even if just for a brief moment) think this country is going back to the days of "no taxation without representation", you should listen to this - even if just to admire what someone can do with his art with first amendment protection.

Unlike the brave "A Kids Review", I think we're all capable of knowing this is Neil's perception - not the person reading this (or writing it for that matter).
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
An critical perspective of our culture... May 10 2006
By F. Orcutt - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is in response to this guy: "Breaking News: Grandpa Disapproves Of The President!, May 10, 2006" Just one question, why are you taking time out of your busy stereotyping, freedom bashing, namecalling, fox news loving, "either with us or your against us" world to insult people who read your review? Uh, let's see, because your an idiot? I guess it works for me too. Do you have the guts to call our President wrong? Or do you just sit by and say, "it's OK, he meant well". Listen pal, the world is NOT black and white, protest songs ARE freedom of speech and if people want to hear them, let them! Canada is not a state, it's a country. Neil Youngs interest and knowledge of American politics and culture probably exceeds your own. This release is more than one song about impeaching our President. If you actually listened to the other songs, you might find that he takes a critical look at our culture and writes about what he sees. So, Keep on rockin' Neil! This paperbagged piece of democracy is worth every penny.
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
I love it. May 9 2006
By Feeling Great - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The good news is a performer of note finally put our anger, disgust and frustration to music with powerful lyrics and has preserved our thoughts and feelings for future generations.

"Maybe it's Colin right what he's done wrong." Neil has documented forever what happens when a good man does not speak out.
388 of 484 people found the following review helpful
Music Rating: 4 stars. Content Rating: 50 stars and 13 stripes. May 8 2006
By Robert Moore - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Musically, this is a good though not great album. Politically, it expresses how literally tens of millions of Americans have been feeling for some time now, but with the corporate-owned and controlled right-wing media (which loves to hawk theories about the so-called "liberal" media) squelching the anger many Americans are feeling, Neil Young has been able to give voice to how so many of us believe. By all accounts, this album was recorded very quickly, but it does not for all that show signs of having been rushed to press. Young has never been a studio wonk, polishing and fine-tuning his songs. There has always been a delightful rough-hewn quality to his work, and that is evident here. The songs are performed by Young, a power trio, a trumpet, and a hundred-voice choir. Young typically produces either "plugged" or "unplugged" albums, in the former having been one of the major influences on grunge, punk, and indie rock, while in the latter a major influence on alt-country and folk rock. This is definitely one of his "plugged" albums, with Neil playing his guitar at its distorted best. Leaving aside the political content, the music on the album isn't as strong as on his best albums. This is considerably below ZUMA or TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT or RUST NEVER SLEEPS, but it is not one of his weaker albums. I would compare it to FREEDOM or WELD or RAGGED GLORY.

Most of the songs are at least good, but two I thought were extraordinary, both musically and in content. "Shock and Awe" is vintage Neil Young, solidified by hard-driving guitar and the kind of basic but compelling melody that Young has turned out a hundred times in his remarkable career. The lyrics are the most memorable on the disc, evoking some of the more embarrassing memories of the past three years, first the absurdity of the "shock and awe" campaign to open the war, followed by the humiliating display of Bush landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln (with banner made by the White House, but which they claim was made by personnel on the carrier) and declaring "Mission Accomplished," the thousands of Iraqi children who have suffered because of our military invasion and occupation, and the caskets that have returned during the Pentagons moratorium on any photos taken of their return. It is a string of heartbreaking images that condemns the White House for a string of misdoings. But the final verse is the hardest to hear, because it condemns us, the American people, for our failings in the 2004 election:


History is always going to ponder the fact that we reelected Bush with disbelief.

The song that has gotten the most attention before the album's release is "Let's Impeach the President." It is a rousing rocker that opens with a trumpet playing taps immediately before Neil plunges in:


The verses are all intensely angry (as should any thinking American), but the most damning section for Bush is the instrumental break that plays a string of recordings of Bush building his own case for impeachment. Out of Bush's own mouth he is condemned, including such famous instances of nonsense as "War is my last choice" and accusations that Saddam was behind 9/11 and harbored terrorists.

There are several other excellent songs on the album, such as the lovely "Families" and "Looking for a Leader," which expresses the hope that we can find someone decent to lead our country (something that I have heard from my friends on the Right as well as those from the Left-the nation's dirty little secret is that apart from Christian Fundamentalists, few even on the Right really like Bush). The only song that leaves me really flat is the choir's singing "America the Beautiful" to end the disc. I appreciate the sentiment, but musically it seems a bit dull compared with what went before.

Much is being made by the Right and the Pundits that Neil Young is Canadian. While this is true, it is also true that he has resided in California since the sixties, though he also has a home in Canada. It completely escapes me what relevance his being of Canadian origin and a part-time resident has to anything. Do the sentiments on this album reflect how tens of millions of Americans feel? Absolutely. Are the political beliefs expressed well founded? Definitely. There is already overwhelming evidence that Bush misled the American people to get us to invade Iraq, that they ignored the substantial amount of evidence that there were neither WMDs nor WMD programs in Iraq, and the evidence continues to mount. If the Democrats take the House in 2006 and Bush's war actions get investigated, the evidence could well explode. So, instead of repeatedly making mention of Neil's ties to our neighbor to the North, perhaps the pundits should ask: 1) does his album tap into widespread national sentiments (it does) and 2) is he justified in his anger (again, he is).

Political leaders throughout American history, from Jefferson to Thoreau to Teddy Roosevelt, have emphasized that the highest form of patriotism has been protest when the nation or its leaders have departed from the nation's ideals. At few points in American history have the ideals upon which the nation was founded been so thoroughly compromised by our leadership as at the present, with charges of torture, secret prisons for illegally holding detainees, imperialism, and military domination directed at the United States by the international community. Most of the world views the United States as a greater threat to international peace than the terrorists we claim to be trying to root out. Domestically, we have an administration that has consistently tried to squelch dissent, engaged in illegal wiretapping, and promulgated an agenda that has harmed the vast majority of Americans.

My outrage is not directed at people like Neil Young who has had the courage to speak out against a corrupt administration. My outrage is directed at those who refuse to get as mad as he is.
40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Rousing and inspiring, some of Neil's best music and lyrics May 10 2006
By Johnny Duster - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Living With War begins with Neil Young singing that we "won't need no shadow men running the government, won't need no stinking war". Angry, emotional words, but this is the most joyous and beautiful angry album I've ever heard.

This is truly an "Ohio" moment, and Living With War strikes a chord that will resonate with the millions of Americans who've tossed off their blinders and who see that this administration hijacked 9/11 for its own twisted political agenda. Now here we are mired in one disastrous war, watching this unpopular administration apparently trying to sell us another, just in time for an election.

Living With War is brilliant and inspiring on many levels: musically, politically, but also as a case study in guerrilla marketing and public relations. A couple of weeks ago word began to leak out that Neil Young, a proud and patriotic Canadian American whom many identify as conservative, was about to release a new song titled "Let's Impeach the President (For Lying)." Faster than you could say 'right-wing blogosphere' Young was in the media gun sights of pro-Bush, pro-war pundits rhetorically blasting him. Of course, none of these critics had heard the song, much less the entire Living With War album.

And what an album it is. It comes wrapped in a plain brown wrapper, but it bleeds red, white and blue. "When the night falls, I pray for peace.... I never bow to the thought police... I'm living with war in my heart and my mind" sings Young. Neil and his PR guerrillas played the attacks brilliantly, parlaying them into perhaps the largest virtual stage and audience that any rocker has ever had to blast out the release of what is Neil's most compelling and timely album.

The seventh song on the album is the one that brought the attacks that set the stage for today's unprecedented web launch. Here is part of what Neil has to say:

"Let's impeach the president for lying and misleading our country into war. Abusing all the power that we gave him... The White House shills who hide behind closed doors and bend the facts to fit with their news stories of why we had to send our men to war... Let's impeach the president for spying on citizens inside their own homes.... Tapping our computers and telephones.... What if Al Qaida blew up the levees? Sheltered by our government's protection, would New Orleans have been safer that way? Or was someone just not home that day?"

This rousing, upbeat song is backed by a hundred voice choir, as is much of the album, and is filled with audio clips of President Bush's 'flip flops' and false and misleading claims, snipped from news conferences and speeches. This song is a showtune anthem. The entire album is a pro-American, pro-family, pro-troops challenge to citizens in the United States, Neil's adopted homeland, to get it together and make change happen.

On Restless Consumer Neil targets the American addiction to oil and materialism, relating it to the war and to the greater failure to attack problems of poverty: "How do you pay for war and leave us dying? ... Don't need no Madison Avenue War. .... Don't need no more lies."

Shock and Awe is one the best rock anthems Neil has ever penned or played: "Back in the days of shock and awe.... history was a cruel judge of overconfidence ... Back in the days of mission accomplished our chief was landing on the deck. The sun was setting on the golden photo op. Thousands of bodies in the ground brought home in boxes to a trumpet sound. No one sees them coming home that way.... We had a chance to change our mind, but somehow wisdom was hard to find..."

Looking for a Leader calls out for people to arise "to reunite the red white and blue ... clean up the corruption and make the country strong. Someone walks among us and I hope he hears the call; maybe it's a woman, or a black man after all. Maybe its Obama, but he thinks he's too young. Maybe its Colin Powell, to right what he's done wrong. ... America is beautiful but she has an ugly side. We're looking for a leader... ."

Living With War builds from beginning to end, proudly pro-American, pro-troops, pro-freedom, while vehemently anti-war and anti-Bush. The lyrics are inspired; the music is classic, and the 100-voice choir warm and emotional. Some of the songs are about US soldiers, one dead from the war on Vietnam and the other Iraq. The Iraq vet in Families says: "there's a universe between us now, but I want to reach out and tell you how much you mean to me. ... I'm going back to the USA, I just got my ticket today."

In Roger and Out a living friend reflects on his long dead buddy from the 1960s: "Tripping down that old hippie highway, got to thinking about you again. Wondering how it really was for you, and how it happened in the end. ... We were just a couple of kids then, living each and every day, when we both went down to register, we were laughing all the way. ... I feel you in the air today. I know you gave for your country, roger and out good buddy."

Living With War closes appropriately with America the Beautiful, the hundred-voice choir providing the perfect closure to one of the strongest and certainly the most-brilliantly released calls for peace and justice ever from a musician of Young's stature. In releasing Living With War as he has, Young is clearly challenging his artistic peers, fellow patriots and all of us.