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Young shows political side

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Los Angeles (Reuters): Veteran rocker Neil Young has recorded a protest album featuring an anti-Iraq war track with ''a holy vow to never kill again'' and a song titled ''Let's Impeach the President,'' the singer said. The 10-track set, called Living with War, was recorded this month by a ''power trio'' -- electric guitar, bass and drums -- plus trumpet and a 100-member choir, the 60-year-old Canadian-born musician announced on his Web site yesterday.

Young's longtime manager, Elliot Roberts, told Reuters the album, which has been the subject of Internet buzz for several days, will be played for executives at his label, Warner Music Group's Reprise Records, today. Reprise spokesman Bill Bentley said Young's latest effort, which he spent about three days recording, came as a surprise. ''We didn't know he was making a record,'' Bentley said.

Young is the latest in a string of recording stars to take musical aim at U S President George W Bush and his conduct of the war in the Iraq. Others have included Steve Earle, Willie Nelson and the Rolling Stones. In a message crawl along the bottom of his Web site- http://www.neilyoung.com/, Young drew parallels to two of the leading protest singers of the 1960s, saying of his new record: ''I think it is a metal version of Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan ...metal folk protest?'' The crawl goes on to reveal the lyrics of the album's title track, with such lines as: ''I raise my hand in peace...I never bow to the laws of the thought police...I take a holy vow...to never kill again...In the big hotels...in the mosques and the doors of the old museum...I take a holy vow...to never kill again.'' Roberts confirmed that a separate song on the album is titled ''Let's impeach the President.'' According to some online reports, that song accuses Bush of ''lying'' and features a rap with the president's voice set against a choir singing ''flip-flop.'' Young's latest offering comes just seven months after the release of his last album, ''Prairie Wind,'' which has sold about 450,000 U.S. copies as of last week, according to sales tracking service Nielsen SoundScan. Music from that album was featured in the recent concert film ''Neil Young: Heart of Gold,'' directed by Jonathan Demme.

Living with War appears to bring Young full circle from a more pro-Bush administration stance he took in the months following the September 11 attacks. Not long after recording the song ''Let's Roll,'' a tribute to passengers who apparently fought back against hijackers on doomed United Airlines Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, Young came out publicly in support of the U S Patriot Act.The legislation, which gave law enforcement authorities broad new powers aimed at bolstering the administration's war on terror, was harshly criticised by some as threatening civil liberties.

Living with War is hardly the first work by Young to take on the political establishment. As part of Crosby, Stills, Nash&Young, in 1970, Young wrote and recorded the song ''Ohio,'' about the four Kent State University students killed by National Guard troops during an anti-Vietnam war rally.

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