In case you haven’t been following, Neil Young has been adapting to coronavirus lockdowns rather well. At 74, he’s fully embraced the digital realm, creating his own streamed performance series, Fireside Sessions.
The series has seen him perform in various locations around his Colorado property, with all videos filmed by wife and acclaimed actress, Daryl Hannah. Now, in the sixth edition, the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter has taken on a legend of his own ilk: Bob Dylan.
From one legend to another: Neil Young performed a host of protest songs in his latest Fireside Sessions, including Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’.
This Porch Episode focuses solely on political songs by Young and others, opening with Alabama from 1972’s Harvest, a song which confronts Southern racism, before playing the Richard Nixon-critical Campaigner, a rarity from the 1977 triple album, Decade, which he hasn’t performed since 2008. Next, he played the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young protest song, Ohio.
Yet perhaps the highlight was when Young took to his teepee – marked with the words “Water is life” – to perform a cover of Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’. Young has only performed the cover once before, during a 1988 set when he joined Dylan; however, this is the first time Young has performed it solo.
Following this, Young gave a rendition of Lookin’ for a Leader from 2006’s Living with War, pertinently re-writing the lyrics:
“Yeah, we had Barack Obama, and we really need him now/ The man who stood behind him has to take his place somehow/ America has a leader building walls around our house/ Who don’t know Black lives matter, and it’s time to vote him out.”
It’s no secret that Young is a critic of Donald Trump, and he recently penned an essay in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Finally, he finished up the set with Southern Man, from 1970’s After the Gold Rush, and Little Wing, taken from his 40th studio album, Homegrown, released just last month, 45 years after its recording. Coincidentally, Bob Dylan also released his 39th studio album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, on the same day.
Young also encouraged viewers of the Porch Episode to donate to the Navajo Water Project, an organisation which aims to provide clean, running water to the 30% of the Navajo population that live without it.
Head to the Neil Young Archives to watch the performance in full.