Living with War

Living with War

4.0 19
by Neil Young

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There's something about a tragedy, be it personal or societal, that transforms Neil Young into one of rock's truly great fighters. This album-length dissertation on the Bush administration and its war in Iraq channels the same sort of raw-nerved passion that Young mustered on "Ohio" and "Tonight's the Night" (his reaction to the fatal overdose of friend and bandmate…  See more details below


There's something about a tragedy, be it personal or societal, that transforms Neil Young into one of rock's truly great fighters. This album-length dissertation on the Bush administration and its war in Iraq channels the same sort of raw-nerved passion that Young mustered on "Ohio" and "Tonight's the Night" (his reaction to the fatal overdose of friend and bandmate Danny Whitten). Sure, some of this disc's white-knuckled energy stems from Living with War's blindingly fast creation -- less than a month passed between the writing of the first notes and the recording of the last ones. What's more important, however, is the unfettered anger and sharply honed empathy Young displays on each of the album's pieces, most of which are awash in the trebly distortion he seizes upon when he wants to shake up his listeners. On "Shock and Awe," he uses his guitar as a battering ram to bull through a curtain of military-styled percussion -- all the better to emphasize his pokes at Bush's "mission accomplished" screeds. "Looking for a Leader," on the other hand, exudes a markedly brighter sonic tone, lending something of a silver lining to Young's laundry list of things that could be changed, providing the proper hands were on the wheel of the good ship America. Young cribs a few notes from others -- using Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom" as the melodic template for "Flags of Freedom" (but making up for it by name-checking his peer in the song's lyrics) -- as well as from himself. He does the latter -- reviving the chord progressions of "Powderfinger" -- on "Let's Impeach the President," the song that's gotten the most notice in the mainstream press. That song's protest-folk beginnings take on epic proportions, thanks to judicious use of a 100-strong choir and a litany of pointed sound bites from President Bush, whose mangling of the truth is underscored by chants of "flip...flop." That would have been Living with War's most powerful moment, had Young not chosen to end the disc with a choral version of "America the Beautiful" that's bound to elicit both chills and cheers. Rock as social commentary has never been more compelling.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
In a move that deliberately echoes the rush release of "Ohio" in the wake of the Kent State shootings, Neil Young bashed out his 2006 protest record Living with War in a matter of days, sometimes recording songs the day they were written, and then seized the opportunities of the digital age by streaming the entire album on his website only weeks after it was recorded, with the official digital and CD releases trailing several days later. It's the best use yet of the instant, widespread distribution that the Web has to offer, and it also hearkens back to the days when folk music was topical, turning the news into song. But if the ballads of the 19th century were passed along gradually, growing along the way, or if the protest tunes of the folk revival of the 1950s and '60s grew in stature being performed regularly, gaining strength as singer after singer sang them, Living with War captures a specific moment in time: early 2006, when George W. Bush's approval ratings slipped to the low 30s, as discontent sowed by the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, rising gas prices, and much more turned into a general malaise in the country (or in political shorthand, it was the moment when George W. turned into Jimmy Carter). To some, the specificity of Young's writing on Living with War will forever date it, but that's a risk with any topical folk, rock, or pop, from "We Shall Overcome" to "We Are the World" -- or "Ohio," for that matter. Young is aware of this and embraces the allegedly short shelf life of his songs for Living with War by directly addressing the political turmoil in the U.S.A. in 2006 and the real human wreckage it has left behind. As such, it will function as a vivid document of its era, as much as any journalism of its time, but Living with War isn't rock-as-CNN: it's a work of art, and it's a canny one at that, with Young drawing on familiar words and music to create both historic and emotional context for his songs. It's not merely clever that "Living with War" quotes "The Star Spangled Banner," or that "Flags of Freedom" consciously reworks Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom" -- it helps tie Young's work to the past and gives his new work greater resonance. And nowhere is that more true than on "Let's Impeach the President" and how its melody recalls "The City of New Orleans" to help underscore what was lost in the government's bungled reaction to Katrina's devastation to the legendary American city. With a grandstanding title like that, along with its George W. soundbites, "Let's Impeach the President" is the flashiest song here, and it crystallizes what's good about the album: sure, it pulls no punches and it's angry, but it's not just ranting; it's artfully written and effective, as is Living with War as a whole. It's not perfect, but it has a vitality lacking in Young's recorded work of the last 15 years or so, and its blend of Greendale's loud, meandering guitar rock and the bittersweet mournful, aging hippie vibe of Prairie Wind is not only appealing, it's better executed than either of those good yet flawed records -- and that execution not only applies to the ragged glory of the recording, but to the songs themselves. They manage to be unified in a way that Young wanted Greendale to be but didn't quite pull off, yet they also stand on their own and are, overall, more memorable than those on Prairie Wind. And that's the reason why, politics aside, Living with War stands as a very strong, effective Neil Young album that will continue to have a punch long after the George W. Bush administration has faded into the history books.
New York Times - Jon Pareles
Irate, passionate, tuneful, thoughtful and obstinate...The songs on "Living With War" are straightforward and single-minded, setting aside the allusive, enigmatic quality of Mr. Young's rock classics.
Rolling Stone - David Fricke
Young has stuck his neck out before, not always in the expected direction... But he has not written and recorded with such emergency since "Ohio."
Los Angeles Times - Randy Lewis
The most powerfully unequivocal condemnation of the war in Iraq to date by a major pop music figure.... The sheer brazenness of this collection is refreshing after years of timidity in the upper echelons of the pop world.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Howard Cohen
[Grade: B] Young hasn't sounded this committed, this tuneful, this raw and this rocking in years.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Reprise / Wea

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Neil Young   Primary Artist,Vocals
Karen Tobin   Choir, Chorus
David Lasley   Choir, Chorus
Clair Marlo   Choir, Chorus
Andrew Gold   Choir, Chorus
Wendy Waldman   Choir, Chorus
Michael Rogers   Choir, Chorus
Franne Golde   Choir, Chorus
Carl Graves   Choir, Chorus
Catte Adams   Choir, Chorus
Morgan Ames   Choir, Chorus
Eddie Anthony   Choir, Chorus
Pattie Brooks   Choir, Chorus
Darrell Brown   Conductor,Vocals,Choir Master
Rosemary Butler   Choir, Chorus,Choir Conductor
Moon Calhoun   Choir, Chorus
Laura Creamer   Choir, Chorus
Chad Cromwell   Drums
Julie Delgado   Choir, Chorus
Davey Faragher   Choir, Chorus
Freebo   Choir, Chorus
Jim Gilstrap   Choir, Chorus
Diane Gordon   Choir, Chorus
Ellis Hall   Choir, Chorus
Linda Harmon   Choir, Chorus
Wayne Jackson   Choir, Chorus
Clydene Jackson   Choir, Chorus
Vann Johnson   Choir, Chorus
Darlene Koldenhoven   Choir, Chorus
April Lang   Choir, Chorus
Dan Navarro   Choir, Chorus
Bill New   Choir, Chorus
Herb Pedersen   Choir, Chorus
Tim Ramirez   Choir, Chorus
Rick Rosas   Bass
Gary Stockdale   Choir, Chorus
Oren Waters   Choir, Chorus
Lisa Jones   Choir, Chorus
Marc Mann   Choir, Chorus
Marsha Malamet   Choir, Chorus
Lois Blaisch   Choir, Chorus
Alicia Morgan   Choir, Chorus
Mark Islam   Choir, Chorus
Ali Handal   Choir, Chorus
Candy Chase   Choir, Chorus
Skip Waring   Choir, Chorus
Amy Bob Engelhardt   Choir, Chorus
Windy Wagner   Choir, Chorus
Elliot Rabinowitz   Choir, Chorus
Mary Hylan Cain   Choir, Chorus
Faith Rivera   Choir, Chorus
Dina Torok   Choir, Chorus
Gerald White   Choir, Chorus
Alan Morphew   Choir, Chorus
Robert G. Martin   Choir, Chorus
Chey Acuna   Choir, Chorus
Andrew Ampaya   Choir, Chorus
Christi Bauerlee   Choir, Chorus
Mary Bolas   Choir, Chorus
Stephen Booker   Choir, Chorus
Tommy Bray   Trumpet
Darlene Carnahan   Choir, Chorus
Christy Crowl   Choir, Chorus
Rich Cuilty   Choir, Chorus
Christianna N. Dicken   Choir, Chorus
Scott Dicken   Choir, Chorus
Michael Fitz   Choir, Chorus
Nirit H. French   Choir, Chorus
Jeff Fust   Choir, Chorus
Storm L. Gardner   Choir, Chorus
Arielle Guitar   Choir, Chorus
Todd S. Honeycutt   Choir, Chorus
Ernie Halter   Choir, Chorus
Patryce Harris   Choir, Chorus
Felice Hernandes   Choir, Chorus
Deanna B. Hust Leving   Choir, Chorus
Eric Bradley   Choir, Chorus

Technical Credits

Neil Young   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Audio Production,Choir Arrangement
Niko Bolas   Producer,Audio Production
Darrell Brown   Choir Arrangement
Larry Cragg   Guitar Techician
John Hausman   Engineer
Jimmy Hoyson   Engineer
L.A. Johnson   Producer
John Nowland   Engineer
Elliot Roberts   Direction
Steve Genewick   Engineer
Harry Sitam   Engineer

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Living with War 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For countless musical generations, Neil Young has been writing songs that are timeless and always relevant. On his latest disc, "Living with War," the 60-year-old singer-songwriter not only delivers his finest batch of songs since 1992's "Harvest Moon," but he has crafted an album that is truthfully groundbreaking. Backed by a 100-voice chorus on most of the songs, there is an epic quality here. From the 1960s-styled protest rant "Let's Impeach the President" to the fiery "Shock and Awe" and rollicking "Lookin' for a Leader," this is a masterpiece. Gospel, rock, Americana, alt country and all kinds of styles that Neil has explored before are blended artfully and authentically.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Neil Young has always had an interesting take on things. That's what I like about him. As an extreme liberal, I can't wait to hear what Neil Young has to say. I am especially anxious to hear the songs "Living With War" "Let's Impeach The President" "Lookin' For A Leader" and "America The Beautiful" And when I heard that this is going to be an electric album instead of an acoustic, that was the topper. I love all of Neil's stuff but I especially love his electric stuff. I know I am going to get the album, I hope you do the same. This is going to be great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
While ultimately it will be called a "period piece" a year from now, it's an amazing sign of the times we live in. Musically it recalls Neil's classic "Ragged Glory" album, lyrically he's never been so blunt or so non-poetic. Some of the best tunes he's written in years. I don't really agree with Neil politically, but it's hard not to get swept up in the emotion of these new songs. And it'll be great to see these songs performed live as with any Neil lately, the live performance is always better than the album. Great stuff.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've listened to this album in its entirety online. Neil Young's approach to the pressing matters of the day on 100% right on. It's about time the music industry talents enlightens through song about the impending disasters (i.e. global warming) (war with Iran) (homelessness) to the commong man. Thank you Neil... Looking forward to getting your CD on the 8th.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Neil Young has done it again with his love letter to W. Two truly great albums in the past year: the very personal "Prairie Wind" and now "Living with War". From the opening "After the Garden" ("Won't need no shadow man runnin' the government, Won't need no stinkin' war....")through the closing chorus of "America the Beautiful", the listener is drawn in and it never lets up. "Let's Impeach the President" has gotten the press, but there is much more to this album. Think of this as a cross between "Ohio" and "Rockin' in the Free World" - every song. It's edgy, both lyrically and musically. The only thing missing is Crazy Horse, but still no complaints. Buy it - NOW!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Neil Young, but won't buy this. I'm always amazed that entertainers think I need to know their politics. If I went to work and spewed forth my political viewpoint, I'd be fired. I realize this is something a person can choose not to buy, but you can be certain this will show up as part of a set at a concert. If I pay good money for a concert, keep your political views, conservative or liberal, to yourself!
Guest More than 1 year ago
OK, I have to admit - I'm a Neil Young fan. That being said, his latest release is just too much for me, and I'm not even a fan of the current administration. The music is lathargic and at times downright dull. The lyrcis are predictable from someone who is so obviously against "the war" so to speak. It's probably time Neil hung up his guitar and called it a day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As I grew up listening to Neil Young, and to this day even, I used to always picture myself singing whatever song of his I was rocking out to in front of all the people I admire, them admiring me in return. T'was adolescent and awesome, I tell ya! But with this album, all I can picture, in the same dream-like idealogical sense, is a gaggle of angry mobs singing and shouting every song here towards the White House. Ah to dream a dream....yes I'm a dreaming man, and yes that's my problem.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was unfortunate enough to be caught in a car with a friend that had this masterpiece. He really should have retired, this is a collection of some of the most trite garbage ever assembled. I don't like Bush but I would think about supporting him if this is the best our music industry has to offer. Let there be no mistake, this isn't the 60's and the music coming out against the Prez and war are not 60's quality. It seems more like someone trying to cash in on dissent as opposed to actually making a viable statement.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you don't respond to this disc you are probably not alive. The moral quality of Neil's LWW includes but also transcends the political dimension. If you do not understand this you must be in some state of extreme and willful denial. This is great, powerful music.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Classic Neil Protometal Gut-Wrenching Protest Music. Angry thrashing guitar, thumping bass, and piledriver drums complement the emotional impact of this recording perfectly. Finally a true artist has the guts to stand up and SCREAM "this freaking emperor has no clothes.. at all!" Thank you. I feel the rage on "Shock and Awe," the righteousness on "Let's Impeach the President," and the sorrow on "Roger and Out." Neil finishes it off tastefully with a soulful choir's rendition of "America the Beautiful." No matter where he was born, Neil Young is a TRUE American patriot, and he speaks FOR ME! The most important piece of music this millenium (so far). Neocons may not appreciate or agree, however...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone in this country needs to listen to this CD! Neil Young has always been a hero of mine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was never a Neil Young fan - in fact I'd never even known who Neil Young was until i heard "Far from Home" on the radio. I was facinated and bought Prairie Wind, and no mistake that album is amazing. I had assumed he would take a break, but in less than half a year he released Living with War. Remembering songs I had loved like "Far from Home" and "He was the King", I wasted $18 on the new album. Alright, this album is aweful. You can tell he was just jumping on the antibush bandwagon (others would include Dixie Chicks, Green Day, Pink, Madonna, and Bruce Springstein)because the entire album was made in less than a month. All the rhythms and beats are the same, just with different lyrics and titles (known of which are even remotely good). The only song with even a little potential is 'Looking for a Leader'. Bush has been a disaster to our nation, but so is this album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You just alienated have of whatever audience you have left. The shut up and sing guy had it right. I've bought almost every Neil album up until now. You might as well shout out "I love Satan" in a church setting. There are those of us who believe that unwanted war (and all war is unwanted) strikes fear in the all the would be evil people in the world who would turn into followers of evil if it were not for brave people fighting evil because it's right to punish evil and all of it's bands. The side benefit is that just like all local police departments, they're a strong deterant to more evil in the community even if there are people who cry out what a shame and crime against humanity for us to punish and put fellow humans in jail. Neil Young has so much money he probably could care less if I buy anymore of his cd's, but at least it will save me from having to spend any further. The sad thing is it sours the great music of his past. Now I'll never be able to sit down and have a relaxing listen to Harvest in the same way again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
after making an exquisite album of acoustic based music- Prairie Wind - Neil releases this slab of righteous country metal. He's been changing styles and covering a wide range of sound since the 60's, and still people get confused when he does something surprising or different. I've seen Neil in interviews about this album and it seems he treasures the right of free speech we enjoy in this country, as well as the freedom of the artist to create and express without limit. He wasn't afraid to express his support of Reagan when 'hippies' weren't supposed to do that (even I was confused there), and he's not afraid now to express his disgust with Bush. I think the album has a deliberately 'dirty' sound- which is cool, But those who love Prairie Wind, Harvest-Moon-style Neil may find it hard to relate. I relate to Neil because I also can dig ALL styles of music, Coltrane, Hank Williams, Hendrix, Nirvana & punk rock all being equally valid music in my book. Thanks to Neil for still keeping it fresh and real. Let's Impeach, Restless Consumer, looking for a leader are all great songs and Neil still ROCKS 'em at 61! It's great to hear an artist give voice to what so many of us are feeling. Let's Impeach indeed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't get it out of my head - I'm living with war everyday. The music is stand alone great Neil Young. The lyrics speak to my heart. Thank you Neil.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Neil Young tells it like it is. Many artists have begun to speak out against Bush, but none have the raw power and talent that Young brings to this album. "Shock and Awe" and "Let's Impeach the President" are two extremely powerful songs that rival Young's previous works, "Ohio" and "Rockin' in the Free World". You can tell this man is a true patriot and his lyrics come from the heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thank you Neil for demonstrating the moral character that you have demonstrated in the past when you have recognized something is totally wrong and needs fixing. It is astounding to me that the children of this generation are not out in the streets, en masse, while George and his cohorts are sending their peers off to die for a futile cause. Perhaps our generation was an anomoly and the kids of today would rather be plugged in to their i pods than work for change. Michael
Anonymous More than 1 year ago