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Neil Young & When Musicians Lose Their Moral Compass
Nick MacWilliam , July 30th, 2014 11:00

After Neil Young came close to breaking the cultural boycott of Israel recently, Nick MacWilliam looks at some other occasions of musicians throwing ethics to the wind

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When Neil Young last week announced the cancellation of a concert in Tel Aviv following Israel's bombing of Gaza, a lot of people asked why he had planned to play there in the first place. The singer released a statement saying that "it is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we must cancel our one and only Israeli concert due to tensions which have rendered the event unsafe at this time," while his spokesman said that "we did not want to put people in Gaza rocket range at unnecessary risk".

Over five decades, Young has remained politically engaged through his music, addressing themes such as the shooting of unarmed Vietnam War protestors ('Ohio'), the colonisation of the Americas ('Cortez The Killer') and US military expansionism under George W. Bush ('Let's Impeach The President'). The fact that throughout his career Young has advocated liberal views makes it all the more surprising that he would disregard the cultural boycott of Israel which has been running since 2004.

Roger Waters certainly wasn't down with Young's willingness to perform in Israel. "Woody Guthrie would turn in his grave", he wrote on his Facebook page, referring to the original bard of protest music, a man who has inspired pretty much all politically-minded musicians to ever strum an acoustic guitar. "Neil Young!" Waters said. "Your songs have always been redolent of love and humanity and compassion for your fellow man and woman. I find it hard to believe that you would turn your back on the indigenous people of Palestine."

But while Young's decision to play in Israel may have dismayed the singer's liberal fans, he would hardly be the first supposedly principled musician to have abandoned their conscience due to commercial considerations. Music history is littered with instances of stars turning to the dark side and exhibiting serious derailments in their moral compass.

Elton John

Elton John has been widely applauded for his work promoting AIDS awareness, but during the 1980s his compassion for those facing discrimination didn't extend as far as black South Africans. In October 1983, at the height of apartheid and with Nelson Mandela twenty years into his prison sentence, John played the Sun City casino resort in spite of the global campaign against the racist system that saw white minority rule dominate the country's black population. Sun City exploited a legal loophole over gambling licenses thanks to its location in Bophuthatswana, a region which had been declared an independent state by the South African government.

Despite the fact that no foreign country recognised Bophuthatswana as separate from South Africa was seemingly irrelevant, for it provided performers, including Rod Stewart, Black Sabbath, Queen (who had the gall to play at Mandela's 90th birthday concert in London in 2008) and Frank Sinatra, with a ready-made excuse for overriding the international cultural boycott against apartheid. The concerts were hugely popular, as white South Africans were able to see big names that rarely played in the politically isolated country, netting massive fees for the headliners.

Ten years later, in 1993, Elton John again played Sun City. Mandela was now a free man but the first post-apartheid elections wouldn't take place until the following year. John and concert promoters downplayed the singer's earlier appearances in South Africa, citing the 'independent' state of Bophuthatswana and allowing the singer to deny having been an active participant in the brutal and repressive system of apartheid. John, however, seems to have been unaffected by the whole furore or, if he was, the promise of further swelling his bulging bank account was enough to alleviate any concerns. In 2010, he again faced accusations of supporting apartheid, not in South Africa this time, but by playing a series of concerts in Israel.

The Police

The environment draws musicians to rally to its protection like wasps to a particularly sticky pot of jam. Peak-green came with the immense Live Earth concerts in 2007, a series of stadium events preaching environmental awareness through the tried and tested medium of rock, pop and R&B. Everyone who was anyone was involved in Al Gore's mega ego tri... campaign to ensure the planet's stability for future generations. There was, however, one particularly large elephant in the room or, rather, it was crossing the parched landscape in search of long dried-up waterholes. In staging a worldwide event of unparalleled size, with concerts across every continent, Live Earth was contributing massively to the very problem it sought to highlight. The event's carbon footprint was estimated at 75,000 tonnes, while performers flew the equivalent of nine times round the planet to get to the shows. For TV audiences, with our nine-to-fives and rising utility bills, it was hard not to feel a little aggrieved at being told we shouldn't take the one holiday a year we could afford while Madonna, the Chili Peppers and everyone else flew around in aeroplanes made out of champagne and seal cubs.

With so many international artists involved, it would perhaps be harsh to single out one in particular. However, while this section could be devoted to all who participated in Live Earth without getting to the venue on horseback, the case of The Police, featuring arch eco-warrior Sting, seems worthy of special mention. In a Live Earth interview at New Jersey's Giants Stadium, Sting humbly acknowledged that he and his wife Trudie Styler weren't solely responsible for safeguarding the planet, saying that, "We've been fighting this struggle for twenty years and it's nice to see that other people are in the struggle too". After Trudie had pointed out the negative effects of globalisation on small communities, Sting dispensed his advice. "I think we can all make concrete baby steps, something small," he said, as Jon Bon Jovi wailed away in the background. He then gave the example of his daughter turning out the lights when she leaves a room.

These noble sentiments were made to look somewhat insincere just a year later when The Police came top of a list of musicians with the largest carbon footprint. This was produced not only from the band's retinue, which, according to Trudie Styler, consisted of a mind-boggling 750 people, but also from the sheer size of their reunion world tour. In an NME interview, John Buckly of the website said, "At the Live Earth concert in New Jersey where The Police played, the biggest contribution to carbon emissions wasn't from the concert itself, it was the fans. The Police played lots of big stadiums - they need to be careful over where they play, and make sure it's near public transport."

Given the singer's history of campaigning for indigenous rights and environmental protection, many people took this as another example of the hypocrisy attached to wealth and fame. "I'm a rock star, I have a pretty heavy global footprint, so I have to do something larger," Sting had said at Live Earth. Fortunately for him, as the owner of several homes, in London, Wiltshire, New York, Malibu, Tuscany and elsewhere, there are an awful lot of light switches to be turned off.

John Denver

In 1985, the Australian journalist David Bradbury entered Chile to make a clandestine film (the Oscar-nominated Chile: Hasta Cuando?) about the human rights abuses and forced disappearances that were still taking place after more than a decade of military rule. Foreign news crews were largely banned from the country, lest they draw attention to ongoing abuses at a time when General Pinochet was a firm ally of London and Washington, but Bradbury was able to gain permission to film under the pretext of covering the Viña del Mar music festival.

It was here that Bradbury met John Denver, the US folk singer whose tireless campaigning on behalf of environmental awareness, the AIDS crisis, homelessness and world poverty made him a darling of liberal circles. Denver's desire to bridge Cold War hostilities saw him play large-scale concerts in the Soviet Union and later in communist China. He was also a vocal critic of the National Rifle Association, oil drilling in the Arctic and the economic and foreign policies of the Reagan administration.

The wide-ranging scope of Denver's activism only serves to heighten the surprise of seeing him acting as an apologist for the abuses of the Pinochet regime. Denver is relaxed at first, offering platitudes over Chile, before Bradbury adopts a more direct tone. "People say there's political oppression going on and people being tortured while you're singing," says Bradbury. Denver slips into denial mode. "I don't believe that's true. I think that music is never a torture." He then appoints himself spokesperson for the Chilean people. "My sense from talking to the people here is that they're much happier than they've been for a long, long time. Things are improving in many ways and they're happy about that."

Seeing as he was performing at a festival supported by the military authorities and which couldn't go ahead without their consent, Denver was always likely to encounter such views. Even so, the international campaign against Pinochet was by then well-established and the regime had been widely accused of repression and extrajudicial killings. Few musicians would seem less likely to endorse fascist dictators responsible for thousands of deaths than liberal poster-boy John Denver. But Bradbury got it on film. If he hadn't, it would be hard to believe it were true (go to 8:36 of the video above).

Bruce Springsteen

An epic, 40-year music career has made Bruce Springsteen, probably more than any other musician, the go-to reference for cultural representation of North American working class values. The poetic narrative of his music has long embraced the collective social experience, focusing on the marginalised and those who have been left behind in the nation's rise to global superpower. Springsteen's lyrical eloquence is offset by a masculine charisma that surges through his music with the force of a bull. Symbolic of the blue-collar ideals with which large numbers of his compatriots identify, Springsteen is an idol to millions of normal Americans.

So when it was announced that the singer's 2009 Greatest Hits album would be released in the US and Canada exclusively through the Wal-Mart chain, many people were puzzled by this apparent abandonment of everything Springsteen represented. Few companies have caused as much harm to the traditional American way of life as Wal-Mart, whose wealth is put into context by the presence of four members of the Walton family in the top 15 of Forbes' 2014 list of the world's richest people. In building this immense fortune, Wal-Mart has displayed scant regard for the millions of people negatively affected by its dominance. It decimates independent businesses, pollutes the environment and exploits its global workforce of over two million people with meagre wages and poor working conditions. A 2006 Berkeley study found that on average Wal-Mart paid its employees around 12-14% less than other sector workers. Any attempts to form unions in order to address grievances are ruthlessly quashed, the would-be union members often finding themselves in need of new employment.

Springsteen's decision to collaborate with the corporate behemoth went down badly with many fans. Following a public backlash at this selling-out, the singer acknowledged that he regretted the move. "It was a mistake," he said in a New York Times interview. "We were in the middle of doing a lot of things, it just kind of came down and really, we didn't vet it the way we usually do." Yet it was hard to believe that Springsteen would have been unaware of Wal-Mart's litany of unethical practices. The admission of folly may have been made in genuine repentance, but it didn't change the fact that the only way for fans to buy the album was through Wal-Mart, which in turn would have no doubt paid the Boss a pretty penny for exclusive selling rights.

Unsurprisingly given the company's influence over public consumer habits, Springsteen is not the only musician to have forsaken their principles in order to collude in maintaining Wal-Mart's hegemony. In 2012, 'punk' band Green Day agreed for their album trilogy ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tre! to be watered-down so as to comply with Wal-Mart policy on explicit content. The group had previously refused to compromise their artistic edge by allowing the sale of censored album versions that suited the company's family image. While the original uncut versions were available elsewhere, Green Day compounded their utter lack of punk credentials by releasing lead single 'Oh Love' exclusively through Wal-Mart. Although it had probably already been clear for some time, Springsteen and Green Day's involvement with the chain proved conclusively that authenticity comes a distant second to profit.

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Jul 30, 2014 1:34pm

Long live Israel.

Quietus Fave Johnny Rotten on playing in Israel -
"I really resent the presumption that I'm going there to play to right-wing Nazi jews [sic]. If Elvis-f-ing-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he's suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won't understand how anyone can have a problem with how they're treated"

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Jul 30, 2014 2:13pm

Let's not forget Mark E Smith also played in Israel. And it wasn't because of the huge number of Fall fans there, it was an open gesture of sympathy towards Israel. The same when he played in Greece, during the height of the economical crisis. So in one side of the moral compass (quite a precious term, isn't it) we have Neil Young, Johnny Rotten, Mark E. Smith, Malkmus & The Jicks (who also played in Tel Aviv recently), and on the other side, there's His Bloatedness, Roger Waters.

What makes you think your moral compass points in the right direction?

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Mark T
Jul 30, 2014 2:28pm

You know, it seems a BIT facile to equate Young's original decision to perform in Israel as a compromise of his humanitarian principles. Wherever your sympathies lie, you really can't make the case that this is a particularly cut-and-dried issue.

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Jul 30, 2014 2:29pm

It's not as clear cut as that and there is plenty of reasons why someone would not want to culturally or economically boycott a country that is incredibly rich in culture and innovation.

Most of the world runs on israeli technology be it environmentally friendly or unfriendly. The nation is built off the back of communes called kibutzim which are widely regarded as one of the only working examples of socialism. The nation was in fact founded by largely socialist idealists but what you see now is the outcome of 60 years of paranoia. Perhaps Gaza looks like a marginalised suburb to israel but zoom out and israel is pretty small up against the 6 surrounding nations that have attacked it since its creation.

What Israel is currently doing is unforgivable and im not looking to justify it but you are blaming someone for refusing to brand a nation of people based on the actions of their government. You don't see many artists boycotting the USA do you? But they have led countless aggressive wars on smaller countries.

There are 2 sides in this war and you cannot forget that. Israel must allow Gaza to develop an infrastructure and stop building on Palestinian land. Groups in gaza that aim to undermine the existence of the state of Israel must stop attacking civilian areas with rockets.

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Jul 30, 2014 2:31pm

I'm an Israeli guy too. Like Eytan I'm leftist and against the occupation. Do you really think that punishing the people would help peace? Do you even know what's going on in this region in the last 60 years? Have you ever read something about this issue? Again i want out of those places, but lately, im not sure if that's the right thing to do. Do you know?

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Jul 30, 2014 3:21pm

I respect the Quietus usually. The writers and it's championing of less heard music. But this article has all the gravitas and research I would expect of the SWP. Or the Sun.

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Jul 30, 2014 3:26pm

In reply to paul:

Should have read 'its championing' . Bloody spell-checker.

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Jul 30, 2014 3:36pm

In reply to Corcoran:

A lot of media, especially in the States is very biased towards the issue (I'm not going to discuss who owns what). You need to think about real motives of the artists you mentioned. They don't make much money by playing down there but it's good for their business. Most of them probably don't care about I's or P's, it's all about survival.

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Michael E.
Jul 30, 2014 3:38pm

Quite nonsensical. There are peace loving people in Israel, too, who love Neil Young and deserve listening to him. Even more nonsensical: at some points in his life Neiil Young adopted right wing opinions, f.e. during the times of Ronald Reagen. So, in some points, the writer of this article has his own compass at work, one dealing with hypocrisy and misibfornation. Thx.

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Jew Sans Frontieres
Jul 30, 2014 3:40pm

By the comments on here it's not only musicians who have lost their moral compass. Of COURSE it's not acceptable to play, for money, to a racially-segregated audience in occupied land. I can't believe the reactionary, sneering, right wing tone of some music fans these days. And something Lydon said (purely to shock, like everything he says) is no justification. Israel should be isolated both economically & socially by anyone with any morals whatsoever, until Palestine is free.

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Michael Engelbrecht
Jul 30, 2014 3:42pm

Bad article.

There are peace loving people in Israel who love Neil Young's music and deserve to listeh to it.

Then, at some points in his life, Neil Young adopted right wing positions, f.e. during the years of the awful Ronald Reagan.

Very, very bad article.

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Jul 30, 2014 3:55pm

In reply to Jew Sans Frontieres:

people in glass houses...

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Jul 30, 2014 4:31pm

When "musicians lose their moral compass" should be corrected - corrected for the bigoted bullshit it is - to "when musicians fail to toe the line of left-liberal indignation". A stupid premise for an article - not all artists should conform to your standards of good taste and political probity. In fact, it often ways leads to bad art, and your mild tut-tutting masquerading as criticism or cultural inquiry is, frankly, boring.

Shifted and Sigha played a techno set in Israel last weekend. Pretty techno, I'd say.

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Kevin Shields Legend
Jul 30, 2014 5:00pm

Incredible article. Thanks so much. The overall tone of the comments isn't exactly progressive so far, is it? Check the IP addresses. I bet they all go back to the one person. Mark Regev. Very professional, big Fall fan.

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Jul 30, 2014 5:03pm

God this is complete horseshit. I have a suggestion- why don't you go to Israel and gaza, and publicly espouse criticism of Israeli policies and of Islamic fundamentalism, respectively, and then come back and let us know which society you'd prefer to live in?

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Jul 30, 2014 5:06pm

In reply to Kevin Shields Legend:

Most of my favourite artists throughout history have been politically boorish, anti-social, extremist, tyrannical, imperious and impetuous in equal measure. A world of artists who had their "moral compass" pointing to magnetic north (i.e. a Hampstead liberal's living room) would be fucking insufferable. It would be the intellectual and cultural equivalent of the heat-death of the universe. "Incredible article" my arse. Milquetoast dogmatism, social engagement for the intelligently disengaged.

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Kevin Shields Legend
Jul 30, 2014 5:21pm

In reply to aaron.:

Alright, Mark.

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Jul 30, 2014 5:45pm

In reply to Kevin Shields Legend:

What does 'progressive' mean? Most of the comments here are just pointing out that not everyone living in Israel are aggressive right wing hawks. That the situation is more complex then what a total cultural boycott would achieve.

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Jul 30, 2014 5:50pm

Nobody boycotts Russia though, everyone's fine with that.
Or maybe not? I only heard Marylin Manson got some shit to hit the fan when he came recently to Moscow but him coming to Russia is 80lvl trolling per se, so that's ok.
But did anyone backed out of performing in Russia?

Oh, wait, this is about Israel, who cares about small Eastern European problems anyway.

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Jul 30, 2014 5:58pm

In reply to Matt:

Any country that is defined as muslim/orthodox/etc - i.e. first and foremost by established religion (and what the fuck's that anyway, in 21st century!) cannot be a democracy.
And the very fact that such countries do exist may eventually be one of the biggest burdens of today's civilisation.

However supportive I may seem to be for Israel, the very idea of "a national state" is something utterly obsolete.
But that's a long waym to overcome those things.

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Jul 30, 2014 6:06pm

I went to see Gil Scott-Heron in 2010 when he was scheduled to play Tel Aviv and there was protests and general yelling from certain people (middle-class hypocrites I'm sure, but at least they were trying) til 75% of the way through the concert when Gil finally announced he wasn't gonna play Tel Aviv. Good on him for reconsidering, but it would have been two or three times a better concert (and it was a pretty poor concert anyway sadly) if he'd made that decision after the first three minutes of screeching protesters.

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Jul 30, 2014 6:07pm

In reply to Balphy:

I saw him at his London concert, I should probably say

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Jul 30, 2014 6:12pm

Must admit I don't know too much about Neil Young, but I get the impression he has oscillated from right-wing to left throughout his career, seemingly to provoke different sections of his fanbase at different points in time. Who knows which direction his moral compass truly points?

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Jul 30, 2014 6:21pm

In reply to :

That was me, sorry.

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Steve c
Jul 30, 2014 7:34pm

Neil young has, as someone says here, always vacillated politically: I know the liberal left would love to have him on their side but life isn't that simple. Re playing Israel: I reject the whole basis for the foundation of Israel. Not many countries have their whole raison d'être based on bullshit written in an ancient book. That said, it's there and isn't going away. It is a country which seems full of xenophobic Arab haters which would explain why the appalling shelling of gaza is met with muted opposition at best. However, women have the vote, receive an education, etc etc When the Arab kid was murdered, his killers were brought swiftly to justice. I just don't see this in gaza or, indeed in much of the Islamic world. If neil young plays in Israel then I guess morally he shouldn't but he played in London the other week and nobody batted an eyelid about our record in the Middle East: the uk and her allies killed a lot more civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan than Israel has killed in Palestine recently. The worlds complicated and reductionist sixth form bullshit like this article only serve to make this abundantly clear. I despise Zionism but, as someone says above, I know where I'd rather live despite the bombs being hurled indiscriminately over the border: and yes, I know that can be taken both ways

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Jul 30, 2014 7:45pm

In reply to Kevin Shields Legend:

You're calling me, rather childishly, Mark Regev - Israel's spin doctor. Okay. My comments in support of artistic freedom (and, indeed, extremism) are actually made from the perspective of someone who has a special interest in Ezra Pound. Let that sink in for a moment. The problem with the online commentariat is that they think they are being conscientious, 'independent' thinkers when they repeat the most banal of liberal nostrums. The fact is you want a toothless world, and your reasoned basis for this is so facile that you're willing to tie yourself in knots, accusing me of being an Israeli in a suit who speaks in defense of one of the 20th century's biggest anti-Semites. Excellent work.

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Jul 30, 2014 7:51pm

In reply to Jew Sans Frontieres:

Characterizing the audience as "segregated" only shows how uninformed you are about the complexity of the situation. Israel does occupy the Palestinian Territories under a apartheid-like regime but Israel proper is not a racially segregated country. It has a sizable (20%) Arab minority that are full citizens enjoying full civil rights. Israeli Arabs receive national healthcare and social security, serve in parliament, and sit on the supreme court. While they are subject to the same sort of racism that minorities everywhere face, there is non of the institutionalized black-white racism you describe, and certainly no segregation.

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Jul 30, 2014 8:00pm

Neil Young dedicated a song to the people of Gaza is the opening of his London gig and spreads the message of love and humanity. If he would have played in Israel he would spread his message and the more people who could listen to him the better.

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Kevin Shields Legend
Jul 30, 2014 8:38pm

So what? We're all fans of artists whose beliefs we find repugnant. The banality is your kind of retort and your caricature of liberalism. PS Mark E. Smith.

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Kevin Shields Legend
Jul 30, 2014 8:44pm

In reply to Tazz:

What does the word progressive mean? I'm not your personal Google! Boycotts won't solve the problem singlehandedly, just as rain falls down. All kinds of things need to happen. Artists need to be much more vocal in their support of Palestine too. Journalists too. The Quietus too. Silence isn't objectivity, it's tacit support of a dominant regime. Israel has to understand that as long as it behaves the way it does then it's a pariah state. Boycotts help. All this love for the anti-social, politically boorish etc: it soon evaporates when it points in your direction. Anyway, I'm sure you'll agree with everything I've said here and that'll be an end to it.

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Jul 30, 2014 8:55pm

the 'boycott' is fucking inane, like this article, but it's an easy way to make candyasses 'feel good,' like, you know, they're really doing something. bully!

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Jul 30, 2014 9:14pm

'it's an easy way to make candyasses 'feel good'' what do you do to help the people of palestine? oooooooooooo or are you making a different point? all these whining maggots say the same stuff about how inane a boycott is.

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Jul 30, 2014 10:23pm

How fuckin' naive to expect from professional musicians to act as role models, carry the bloody flags of whatever purposes and expect them to do their work with politically fuelled motives, instead of their true sole objectives, ie to spread their trade and earn their living.
The ignorance of people that believe that good artists were, are, will, and are expected to be good and moral people is beyond the extreme frontiers of imbecility: Actually the opposite is closer to reality, the rule rather than the exception. The history of art is full of brilliant assholes, just to name a few: Caravaggio, Mozart, Picasso, Dali, Kinski, Dylan, you name it.
On the other hand, who is bloody talking??? The alliance of USA/UK that has drowned the modern world in blood: colonies, indigenous populations, latin banana democracies, CIA, dictatorships and juntas, Vietnam, Korea, arab countries and western jihads, Abu-Graib, Guantanamo. Nobody should ever play live there if the same criteria apply!
Give me a break please and just look around you.

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Lilly Creightmore
Jul 30, 2014 11:11pm

I think this is an extremely lazy assumption on Neil Young's part. Around the same time his show was cancelled in Tel Aviv, my friends The Brian Jonestown Massacre also pulled theirs very last minute. Some of the band were happy to go, some were not, for those that were willing to go, commercial gain was not their priority, and as I understand it they were simply wanting to remain professional musicians in the face of adversity, to show up for their a 1000 capacity sold out gig and most importantly for their fans. As the gig was fairly small and they are not a commercially well known band, those that wanted to go, believed there wasn't a high risk of being shelled by Hamas and figured the good people of Israel deserved something to take their minds off what was going on. After half the band put their foot down and refused to go, for what was initially fear passed off as a political statement, the gig was pulled . More on that and Neil can be found here As Anton says get your facts straight! Decisions like these are NEVER that black and white! Some artists and musicians choose to be political activists, some don't! That said a commercial boycott is effective, a cultural one, I don't know, if you can reach the minds of those willing to listen to what one would define as music for alternative and liberal thinkers, in the eye of the storm, where things really must be changed, theres a chance you're inspiring something important from within, no? As a photographer, who dreams of having the strength to shoot on the frontline, I understand a certain level of objectivity must be maintained, a sacrifice of your own morals, impartiality reached, in order to help others see what is going on, in order to inspire the change where it's needed most.

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Jul 30, 2014 11:42pm

In reply to Kevin Shields Legend:

When the Black Keys played Israel, they also booked a show in Gaza. The Israeli promoter found a Palestinian counterpart and helped co-ordinate a show. To me, this seems like a perfect move artistically, politically and morally. You're not "punishing" left leaning Israelis who disagree with the actions of their govt by a strict boycott're also making a pointed political statement by playing in Gaza and getting 2 promoters from either "side" to work together.

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Fergus Cullen
Jul 30, 2014 11:45pm

I know you can't mention every affiliation you think is dubious but what about Thurston Moore's Starbucks releases....... free shit coffee with every record purchase? I'd love to know if Sun Ra or Glenn Branca would have made the same choice.

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Jul 31, 2014 12:24am

I am an "Israeli: extreme left-winger, who understands both boycotts and those who want to bring a face to face message to this horrible place, but the really funny thing about Roger Waters - is the fact that he started bashing artists wanting to play in Israel with his "Moral Compass" right after playing in Israel, having an Arab village's Humus crop leveled for his over bombastic "The Wall" over estimated BS

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Haroun Gold De Burgh
Jul 31, 2014 12:33am

This is where you've all go it wrong, it also shows what a disgusting, irrelevant, bloated piece of crap John Rotten is! Bands shouldn't say 'Aint Gonna play Tel Aviv City' - they should happily go there and INCITE AN UPRISING (riot even) AGAINST THE NETENYAHOO REGIME and as a result get banned from the country for having subversive ideas, just like Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe have been! This will not only highlight how lacking Israel is as a 'democracy' it will also bring to attention how far right-wing the country has become and create more provocative thought and action, than John Waters refusing to play there - despite being one of the most popular acts amongst Israelies - every could. Whoah, I wonder how that 'chilled out IDF dude' must feel when listening to 'wish you were here' knowing full well the author of that tune 'denies their right to exist'!! Furthermore, I don't see an 'Artists against apartheid' tune been put together by John Waters and his mates in regards to Netenyahoo and Israel's administration?? There must be tons of really, really avant-garde, progressive and cutting edge muso/songwriters out there that could put together a KILLER protest tune against Netenyahoo and his thugs?? Are they all so scared of David Geffen and Rupert Murdoch?? It's also very interesting how 'unpopular' Israel has become with groovy music creators, that it leaves Israeli 'hipsters' with 'goa-tribal trance' techno as their 'rebellious' music of choice. The brutal irony being that the 'back to nature 60s hippie hedonistic love in 'vibe' ' of that music is now co-opted as a speed and E fuelled call to brutal arms and dogmatic tribalism. The 'tribal' aspect is no irony either.

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Jul 31, 2014 10:23am

I am a South African who supported the cultural boycott of this country. Twenty years later though, I am still living in a cultural desert.

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Jul 31, 2014 11:10am

Boycotts are an excuse for dipshits to play at being smug without changing ANYTHING in their lives or others-- have at it, 'peace warriors'! Ya'll should have boycotted Neil for that garbage album with Daniel Lanois but nooooooo...

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Jul 31, 2014 11:38am

Luckily, I've been boycotting all of these artists for years, on purely aesthetic grounds.

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Jul 31, 2014 3:30pm

Change the fucking record about supporters of boycotts being mere mealy-mouthed do-gooders. Fox trains you people so well.

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Michael Engelbrecht
Jul 31, 2014 4:15pm

Nick MacWilliam: do you belong to the rich kids of Neptune High? Are you happy that your piece of crap got so much attention? Will you continue this courageous path of dumbness and write a follow-up?

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Jul 31, 2014 6:30pm

Neil Young has never been consistent in his politics. He was a big fan of Ronald Reagan, and his comments during this period concerning the Cold War are pretty bizarre. This entire article needs to be pulled, more research done, and then re-submitted.

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Taun Aengus
Jul 31, 2014 7:18pm

Well-----thanks for kicking the hornet's nest. At least you got some reactions from people, got them thinking and expressing. It certainly got me thinking, and now----BOY! Am I pissed off at everybody! HAHAHA
Let's have a toast----Until there's WORLD democracy! WORLD peace, equality and music of our choice for all. Deep breath.

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Aug 1, 2014 9:13am

What a ridiculous article - a self-righteous trawl of Wikipedia presented as topical journalism? How long did it take to sling this rubbish together, half an hour? Less?
How about documenting a few occasions of yourself or your fellow journalists "throwing ethics to the wind" Nick, or are you all too fucking perfect?

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Aug 1, 2014 11:43am

In reply to 9-9:

Wow. You're surely a plant. You're just out to make those who're against this type of article seem on Team Subnormal.

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Aug 1, 2014 12:24pm

As long as you aren't boycotting the US and the UK, you're a hypocrite for just boycotting Israel. Yeah. Obviously. Yeah, Nick, and how is it you and your fellow so-called journalists have the temerity to use the internet when you know it has bad things on it? How hypocritical and self-righteous you all are. I boycott the self-righteous Quietus until I see an article where the hypocritical Nick proves he's a hypocrite. We all know he eats food from shops and walks on concrete so I don't see how he can write this stuff. Your country did bad stuff. How can you have the nerve to try to put anybody else straight? I don't hear you moaning about your favourite artists like Duran Duran and Mogwai, both of whom aren't perfect. A cultural boycott is a ridiculous idea, and that's why I'm terrified people might do it. All those Gazan children need to die because they're all hardcore anti-Richard Dawkins, and anyway, Neil Young is no kind of hippy, he's an antisemitic Zionist. If Neil Young could play on the sands of Tel Aviv, I think it's pretty obvious peace would ensue within days. But he can't, because it's too dangerous. Every day, Tel Aviv beach fills up with brave sunbathers, but everybody knows that only tourists are truly safe. It takes two, this conflict you know. Israel can't just murder itself, can it? Why punish the music lovers of Israel by depriving them of concerts? That'd be exactly like when Israeli soldiers kill children. I'm as leftwing as it gets in Israel, because I say so. That said, I only listen to music by people who kill kids or at least support the killing of kids, because anything else isn't art. Come back to me when you've spoken up about the situations in Russia, Syria and Guernsey. This is a complex situation, so it's simple that nobody should boycott anything. I'm about freedom, and that's why anybody who tries to get together and fight oppression should just shut the hell up. I can't believe you'd expect a musician to be anything other than a moneymaking machine! And yet, on the other hand, you think if people put enough economic pressure on a musician they'd boycott Israel? Wise up.

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Aug 3, 2014 12:39am

If Palestinians want to see Neil Young when he plays in Israel, they can buy tickets and go and see him too I'm sure. Neil will welcome Palestinians to his shows. Oh and Bob Dylan also played Israel and many many more not mentioned in this piece of crap article.

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Hardy Boyardee
Jul 24, 2015 8:01am

Um, The Quietus doesn't pay its writers. So that whole moral compass thing...

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