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Protest That Sings: Neil Young's 'Living with War'

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Protest That Sings: Neil Young's 'Living with War'

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Protest That Sings: Neil Young's 'Living with War'

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

LIVING WITH WAR is the title of the new album by Neil Young. It's being put up on the internet today. CD copies are expected to reach stores within a week. There are 10 songs, some with horns and a hundred-voice choir and you get a sense of the subject matter from the titles. They include Shock and Awe, Lookin' for a Leader and Let's Impeach the President.

Tom Moon has a review.

TOM MOON: Neil Young sure is mad. He's been taking in all the news about Iraq and he's seething. You can hear it in his flip-flop chorus.

(SOUNDBITE OF LET'S IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT)

MOON: Young recently told the Los Angeles Times that since the Iraq War started, he's been waiting for some angry, young singer to step up with a broad side, or 10 of them, complaining about the current government in Washington. He waited until he could stand it no more.

In a two-week burst beginning in late March, Neil Young wrote and recorded this cycle of raw, exasperated protest anthems, including the title track, which talks about the psychic pain of living with war.

(SOUNDBITE OF LIVING WITH WAR)

MOON: The songs seem almost unfinished, a visceral first response to the horrific. On most of them, Neil Young doesn't develop characters the way he has on his thoughtful recent albums. One exception is a song called Flags of Freedom, which sketches a teenage girl at a soldier's farewell parade. She's listening to Bob Dylan's Chimes of Freedom on her headphones while watching her brother file past her, bound for Iraq.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLAGS OF FREEDOM)

MOON: These are not the best songs Neil Young has ever written. They're harangues that sometimes go on a wee bit too long. And many of them rely on the sturdy, bell-ringing, anthem chords he's overused since the 1980s. Still, everything on LIVING WITH WAR is purposeful, indignant and alive with spirit. How come it took a 60-year-old Canadian to deliver rock and roll's most passionate commentary on this war?

(SOUNDBITE OF NEIL YOUNG SONG)

NORRIS: The CD is LIVING WITH WAR by Neil Young. Our reviewer is Tom Moon. And you can find more music from Neil Young's new album at our website, NPR.org.

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