Neil Young, one of the greatest living singers, is known for his musicianship as well as his uncompromising stance and activism, especially in terms of environmentalism and peace. He was born on November 12, 1945 in Toronto, Canada. Young is one of Canada’s greatest gifts to world music with his distinctive vocal style, electric guitar playing and acoustic interpretations that are identified with his fragile and subtle voice.
Perhaps the most important feature that set Young apart from his musical contemporaries was his political, social and environmental consciousness, his protest identity. Young, who lived through the 80’s when rock music was supposed to be just for fun, never took a step back from this protest identity. The song ‘Ohio’ is one example. This song is written about the dark day in May 1970, when the National Guard shot and killed four students who opposed the Vietnam War in Kent State. The song was transformed into a counter-culture anthem. Young was also one of the pioneers of the concert series Farm Aid, which helped families of farmers in the United States, along with Willie Nelson and John Mellen camp.
His 1989 Freedom electric album was composed of electric guitar-based songs, which included a critique of the American dream. Rockin’ in the Free World is perhaps the first song that comes to mind when Neil Young is mentioned. Young criticised the American dream in this song. His 2006 album Living With War showed that Young had never compromised his protest identity over the past decade. This album heavily criticised the American Government, especially for the Iraq War.
Throughout his career, Young has been in opposition to the status quo, but also pro-peace. His environmentalism is reflected not only in his words but also in his actions. He bravely opposes all institutions and individuals whom he thinks harm the environment (Gaia Dergi).