Neil Young is Now Suing Donald Trump’s Reelection Campaign

Published on August 5, 2020

President Donald Trump is a fan of musician Neil Young, but musician Neil Young is no fan of President Donald Trump. Not a surprise, right? The President and Young have very different beliefs, which is why it’s a little surprising Trump is such a massive fan of the musician and keeps playing his music at his dangerous rallies. Now, Young is trying to put a stop to it.

The Lawsuit

Recently, Trump started playing his favorite musician’s songs,  “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk,” again at his rallies, including the infamous rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in which there were empty seats galore. 

Following the event, Young said he was considering a lawsuit. Here’s an excerpt from his new lawsuit, which does not mince words (via CNN):

“This complaint is not intended to disrespect the rights and opinions of American citizens, who are free to support the candidate of their choosing. However, Plaintiff in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a ‘theme song’ for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate.”

The campaign willfully ignored Young’s requests, so the artist is now seeking around $150,000 per copyright infringement. Young is trying to put a stop to the president from ever using his music again, which The Rolling Stones are attempting as well. 

A Stones’ Lawsuit? 

None of Trump’s favorite artists return the love, including Elton John. Recently, the Stones even sent a cease and desist letter. Like Neil Young, the English rock band wants to see a change. They’ve teamed up with BMI, which is the performing rights organization, to put a stop to Trump and others like him playing their music at his rallies. The band has threatened legal action, but haven’t stepped forward yet like Neil Young. 

Neil Young
Why Does Trump Like These Artists? 

Obviously, it’s partly generational. Trump grew up listening to The Rolling Stones and Neil Young. The president has called the singer’s voice “haunting.” Sometimes bad people have good taste, and it’s as simple as that. Remember, former speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, is a Rage Against The Machine fan. How does that even track? Ryan, the machine himself, is a fan of a protest band despising everything he represents. Of course, Ryan once said he didn’t care for the band’s lyrics but enjoyed the energy of the music. 

Does Trump even listen to lyrics when he hears songs? There’s such a disconnect between the music he enjoys and his beliefs. The president who locks up the street fighting man, like in Portland, loves the band that sings the praises of a “Street Fighting Man.” Obviously, we should never expect logic from the sitting president, but his taste in music and love for Neil Young will forever baffle me. 

A Change for the Future?

Many iconic performances have spoken out against Trump playing their music, including Rihanna and Tom Petty’s estate. For a long time, it looked like there was little to be done about the matter. Now, it looks like the tides are turning.

Hopefully, with legal action taken by Young and hopefully others in the future, we’ll stop hearing beautiful music used against an artist’s wishes at rallies they don’t support. It’s their music, not the President’s.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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