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Donald Trump Apparently Knows Zip About Neil Young

Donald Trump (R-Sad Toupées) has come under fire from Neil Young (D-Heart of Gold) for using one of Young’s songs as the soundtrack to his presidential candidacy announcement earlier this week. 

Variety reports:

When Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy at Trump Tower on Tuesday morning, he took the stage to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

The problem: Young is objecting to Trump’s use of his 1989 work. In fact, Young is endorsing a candidate on the other side of the political spectrum, Bernie Sanders.

“Donald Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ in his presidential candidacy announcement,” said a statement from Young’s manager, Elliot Roberts of Lookout Management. “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for president of the United States of America.”

*mic drop*

Trump – like Reagan before him, who would lovingly reference Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” an ironic critique of American exceptionalism, during his campaign speeches – either has never really heard the lyrics to “Rockin'” or has no idea what irony even is. Because these:

There’s colors on the street
Red, white and blue
People shufflin’ their feet
People sleepin’ in their shoes
But there’s a warnin’ sign
on the road ahead
There’s a lot of people sayin’
we’d be better off dead

Keep on rockin’ in the free world
Keep on rockin’ in the free world

…are not the words of a man who is really rockin’ in a free world. We already knew The Don wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box, but come on.

Trump is only the latest right wing blowhard to use a song or reference an artist with apparently no idea what the song or artist actually stands for. Some of our favorites:

  • The time Paul Ryan said he was a huge fan of Rage Against the Machine, and Tom Morello wrote a scathing op-ed telling him to get bent. “Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades,” Morello wrote.
  • When Sarah Palin started used Heart’s song “Barracuda” during public appearances, and then Heart issued a cease and desist. Later, the two women wrote an email to where they explained that “The song ’Barracuda’ was written in the late ’70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The ’barracuda’ represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there’s irony in Republican strategists’ choice to make use of it there.”
  • The time John McCain, during the same campaign, came onstage in Ohio with Van Halen’s “Right Now” playing in the background, and Van Halen immediately shut him down, saying “{Even} had they asked, permission would not have been granted.”
  • When Mitt Romney used Silversun Pickups’ “Panic Switch” at multiple campaign events, and was promptly hit with a cease and desist. Silversun Pickups guitarist Brian Aubert wrote possibly the best take-down on this list, “We’re nice, approachable people. We won’t bite. Unless you’re Mitt Romney! We were very close to just letting this go because the irony was too good. While he is inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign, we doubt that ‘Panic Switch’ really sends the message he intends.”
  • That time Michele Bachmann tried using Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and Tom Petty was like “This again?” because back in 2000 he had to file a cease and desist to get George W. Bush’s campaign to stop playing “I Won’t Back Down” at rallies.

Here’s hoping the 2016 Republican presidential candidates can find someone – anyone – willing to let them use their songs in the coming campaign.

Written by Caitlyn McClure

Caitlyn is a rabble-rouser and writer based in Olympia, WA. She is a copywriter and logistics specialist for Tiny Pixel Collective, a web shop providing activists and artists with the tools they need to tell stories that inspire change.