Neil Young reacts angrily to Donald Trump's use of his music
(Credit: Gage Skidmore / Tore Sætre)

Neil Young pens open letter to Donald Trump and offers up a new song suggestion

As part of a speech at Mount Rushmore, Donald Trump used Neil Young’s song ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ among a few others from the singer-songwriter. Young initially reacted with a Tweet in response to the infringement but has now penned a lengthy letter.

Starting the letter in more gracious terms, Young goes on to note down that not only has he “repeatedly” used his songs without consent but he also offers up another track for the President’s attention.

Neil Young has written to Donald Trump this time asking him to listen to a particular song of his instead of using his music without consent. “Although I have repeatedly asked you to please not use my music because it indicates that I support your agenda, you have always played my songs anyway at your gatherings, with no regard for my rights, even calling me names on twitter,” Young wrote.

“Because you are in charge of the Covid 19 response here in the USA, I will not sue you, (as certainly is my right) potentially distracting from your important work at hand protecting and saving American lives,” he continued.

“With the enormous power you wield on our behalf, I wish you all the best in your critical battle to save American souls from this threat. I know you will do your best for all Americans, regardless of political leanings. I give you my encouragement in your efforts to Unify America.”

Young did have an idea for the President, suggesting he listen to one of his newest songs and perhaps play that at his rallies. “I suggest you listen to my song ‘Lookin’ For A Leader 2020,’ available on my website, neilyoungarchives.com as part of a work I recently completed with my wife- ‘The Porch Episode’, as I believe it would be an interesting addition to your next rally.”

It’s just another moment from Neil Young in which he has used his platform to get out a positive message. You can read the full letter at Neil Young Archives.

Young’s opposition of the use of his music arrives shortly after The Rolling Stones were forced to threaten legal action against US President Donal Trump.

The move comes after a statement was issued by the performing rights organisation BMI who have insisted that Trump’s political campaign stop using music by The Rolling Stones as part of their official campaign events and rallies.

“If Donald Trump disregards the exclusion and persists then he would face a lawsuit for breaking the embargo and playing music that has not been licensed,” a statement reads.

Discussing a potential lawsuit, a BMI spokesperson told Deadline that Trump’s campaign has legal access to more than 15 million musical works in their archive under the Political Entities License. However, this particular license states that BMI have the right “to exclude musical works from the license if a songwriter or publisher objects to its use by a campaign.” Needless to say, The Rolling Stones object.

The statement continued: “BMI has received such an objection and sent a letter notifying the Trump campaign that The Rolling Stones’ works have been removed from the campaign license, and advising the campaign that any future use of these musical compositions will be in breach of its license agreement with BMI.”

Young and The Rolling Stones are now part of a growing list of musicians to voice their disapproval. The threat of legal action comes just days after the family of the late Tom Petty issued a cease and desist letter to the political campaign of Donald Trump.

The move comes after Trump’s campaign used Petty song ‘I Won’t Back Down’ during a recent rally held in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Trump was in no way authorised to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind,” the Petty family said in a statement.

“Both the late Tom Petty and his family firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind,” they added. “Tom Petty would never want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together.”

Adding: “Tom wrote this song for the underdog, for the common man and for everyone. We want to make it clear that we believe everyone is free to vote as they like, think as they like, but the Petty family doesn’t stand for this. We believe in America and we believe in democracy. But Donald Trump is not representing the noble ideals of either.

“We would hate for fans that are marginalized by this administration to think we were complicit in this usage. Concurrently, we have issued a cease and desist notice to the Trump campaign.”

See the full statement, below.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Delivering curated content