Aging Hippie Rockers Neil Young And Joni Mitchell’s Past Controversies Resurface Amid Spotify Feud

neil young controversy
Credit: Matthew Harris, Library of Congress Life

Senior citizen hippies Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have once again become the face of protest.

Young recently threatened to pull his music library from the streaming service Spotify if they did not cancel Joe Rogan’s wildly popular podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.” Mitchell soon joined in the protest and pulled her music catalog.

Spotify has been the target of criticism from the left for streaming Rogan’s show, accusing him of spreading “misinformation” about COVID-19. But having recently secured a $100 million deal with Rogan to be the exclusive carrier of the podcast, Spotify has stuck with Rogan (so far.)

But is appears that comments about peace and love are not the only things floating around in either Young’s or Mitchell’s past statements.

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Controversial Comments By Both

Neil Young has not always been sufficiently woke by today’s standards.

At the height of the AIDS frenzy, during an interview with Melodie Baker in 1985, Young made this offensive comment, “You go to a supermarket and you see a f—-t behind the f—in’ cash register, you don’t want him to handle your potatoes.”

One of a mind to defend Young may point out that not much was known about AIDS at the time, and ignorance was rampant. Nevertheless, the sentiment doesn’t seem very hippie-ish.

By today’s standards, such a comment is certifiably ‘cancel’ worthy, so long as you have the wrong politics. Fortunately, Young has the ‘right’ politics.

Joni Mitchell has a history of wearing blackface. She even appeared on one of her album covers in 1977 as her blackface alter ego, “Art Nouveau.”

During an interview with LA Weekly, she remarked that, “I don’t have the soul of a white woman. I write like a black poet. I frequently write from a black perspective.”

Some of Joni Mitchell’s best friends are no doubt black as well.

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60’s Generation Used To Be For Free Speech

Those who are old enough to remember, or who were actually there, remember or were part of a generation of young people who didn’t want the status quo of their parents’ generation. They wanted to be able to speak out and voice their opinions in an atmosphere of free speech and expression. Their slogans were “don’t trust anyone over 30,” and “fight the man.”

CSNY and Joni Mitchell were staples of that crowd.

What happened?

If you told someone in the Haight-Ashbury that their favorite hippie musicians would one day be promoting corporations and trying to silence speech, they’d ask you where you got the good acid.

Neil Young tried to explain his actions to, of all places, Vogue magazine. In the article written by Liam Hess on Saturday, Young proclaimed:

“I support free speech. I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information.” 

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If You Can’t Listen Through One Corporate Giant, Go To This One

Besides free speech, opposition to the market and especially ‘corporations’ was part and parcel of the left.

Now, however, they get promoted. Young has began urging his fans to use Amazon to listen to his music. Yes, Amazon. The 5th biggest company in the world.

On Wednesday, BBC reported that India Arie and Young’s former bandmate Graham Nash have also joined Young and Mitchell in pulling their music from Spotify. 

Hey hey, my my, Mr. Young.

Rock and roll can never die.

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