|Published May 18, 2006.|
|Several important and seemingly unconnected things happened in the last few weeks. First, Neil Young released his new album Living With War, free for the listening on his website. From the prophetic intonations of After the Garden to the ironic Christmas-carol sentimentality of America the Beautiful, Living With War is a protest album in the truest sense of the term. Not since DOA’s Right To Be Wild 45 in 1983 supporting the defence fund for the “Squamish 5” have I come across anything this blatantly ideological.|
Secondly, J.K. Galbraith (1908 - 2006) passed away at the age of 97. Galbraith was an economist and another Canadian ex-pat. A professor at Harvard, he wrote speeches for John F. Kennedy and advised Democratic Presidents throughout the later half of the twentieth century. The main thrust of his thought was that the “invisible hand of the free market” doesn’t lift everyone up to the same level and it’s the job of government to step in and make sure no one gets left behind, in other words, it is governments job to create a Good Society (very Canadian eh?). Most modern economists believe his theories to have been discredited.
I first heard Living With War on May 2nd, which was also the day of the first Conservative budget in nearly a decade and a half. Harper and co. rolled back environmental policy by abandoning the Kyoto protocol, left Natives out in the cold by abandoning the 5 billion dollar Kelowna accord in favour of 450 million over two years, and cut taxes to corporations by 2% all the while raising personal income tax from 15 to 15.5% in order to “pay for” their much lauded 1% cut to the GST ( I’m no economist like Galbraith but if you raise taxes in one area to offset tax cuts in another aren’t you left with a net gain of zilch?). Never have we needed a protest album more.
This was also the week two bands, one fairly mainstream, the other unapologetically indie, got together to hold a press conference. The two bands were the Bare Naked Ladies and Broken Social Scene. So what was the point of this photo op… to defend the use of file sharing by announcing the creation of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition whose membership includes: Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Stars, Avril Lavigne, Sum 41, John K. Samson of the Weakerthans, Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace, Dave Bidini of Rheostatics fame and Bob Wiseman from Blue Rodeo. They came out to say that it is the job of the record industry to cater to the wants of music fans and not the fans’ job to conform to the profit driven motives of the record company distributors.
Which brings me back to Neil’s website. Go listen to the album, it’s well worth the price of admission, though record companies and the government may not be of the same mind.
|—Mike Hussey, Summerside PEI|