The Canadian rocker and master storyteller, Neil Young, says: “Music is a universal language.” Yes, and when created by a people’s champion like him, music can bring down the high and mighty, just as Joshua’s trumpeters brought down the walls of Jericho.
Or, in Neil’s case, the walls of Monsanto. He has issued a powerful new album titled The Monsanto Years, taking on the arrogant gene manipulator and avaricious pesticide merchant for its relentless attempt to profiteer at the expense of family farmers, consumers, people’s democratic rights and nature itself. On the title track, Young sings this verse: “The farmer knows he’s got to grow what he can sell, Monsanto, Monsanto/ So he signs a deal for GMOs that makes life hell with Monsanto, Monsanto/ Every year he buys the patented seeds/ Poison-ready, they’re what the corporation needs, Monsanto.”
Poor Monsanto — it says that Young’s lyrical truth has hurt its feelings. (Actually, Monsanto has no feelings, since it’s a corporation, a paper construct created solely for the purpose of maximizing the profits and minimizing the obligations of its big shareholders.) Nonetheless, the global giant whined in an official corpo rate statement that Young’s song ignores “what we do every day to help make agriculture more sustainable.”
But “sustainable” for whom? By its actions every day, Monsanto shows that the answer is: Sustainable for the corporate exploiter. As Young put it: “Corporations don’t have children. They don’t have feeling or soul. They don’t depend on uncontaminated water, clean air or healthy food to survive. They are beholden to one thing — The bottom line. I choose to speak Truth to this Economic Power.”
In Neil Young’s music, mighty Monsanto has met a freewheeling cultural power it can’t intimidate, buy out, censor or escape from.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.