It might as well be Neil Young, whose ideological vicissitudes defy all reason. He is like a hurricane, to borrow a simile from one of his songs. The right-wing bloggers call him a moonbat, but the term is inapt: A moonbat, as defined by Adriana Cronin-Lukas, is "someone who sacrifices sanity for the sake of consistency." Only through the most abstruse calculations of advanced chaos theory could anyone discern a consistent pattern in Young's political opinions. In the '70s, he went from condemning Richard Nixon ("Ohio") to excusing him ("Campaigner"). In the '80s, he embraced nukes and Reaganomics and fretted about AIDS-infected "faggots" fouling the supermarket produce. By the end of that decade, he was ragging on Bush p & egrave;re with "Rockin' in the Free World" ("We got a thousand points of light for the homeless man/We got a kinder, gentler machine-gun hand"). Like so many others, he freaked out after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, endorsing the Patriot Act and releasing the hawkish "Let's Roll." Last year, he began trippin' down the hippie highway again: Living with War, was a 10-track indictment of Bush Jr.'s presidency, the misadventure in Iraq, and the malignancy of consumer culture. To top it all off, Young, who has lived in this country since the late '60s and whose children were born here, remains a Canadian citizen. He can't even vote! The Fox News diatribes pretty much write themselves.
But maybe this zeitgeist-coasting, whiplash-inducing impulsivity makes Young the ideal American everyman. Like Walt Whitman, he contradicts himself because he is large and contains multitudes. Leave Michelle Malkin and her small-minded minions to carp about consistency; Neil sounds his barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. There's something indescribably thrilling in the way he preaches to the choir with the help of a literal choir, the way those bellicose trumpets bolster his trademark six-string snarl, the way his sorrowful yelp subsides into a sea of anonymous gospel voices. Who cares if he bit most of the melodies from his own back catalog? Who cares if the album's centerpiece, "Let's Impeach the President," with its bridge cobbled together from Bush sound bites and its gleeful fillips of "flip" and "flop," is more like a bumper-sticker collage than a finished song? The entire CD was written and recorded in a mere two weeks this past April, and it sounds like it -- all ragged glory, reckless ranting and righteous outrage. Even if we know from hard experience that it's only temporary -- his new album Chrome Dreams II, set to drop Oct. 23, is apolitical -- having him on our side again feels too damn good to resist.
Neil Young at the Spokane Arena on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7:30 pm. $67-$132. Visit www.ticketswest.com or call 325-SEAT.