Ever seen Neil Young and the band blow doors on Saturday Night Live in 1989?

It’s a gripping, hairs-on-end performance that’ll leave you riveted or up and swinging at the screen, for rock and roll and the freedom underscored by the lyrics to “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Those lyrics hold up, if not remarkably well then because we should expect such proud dissent from Uncle Neil.

His stance on Spotify, not so much. It’s a sound position, and right, if bumpered by ads for his radio show on Sirius and in a letter written in the name of Truth bemoaning the fidelity of Spotify that reads like the press release it is. Otherwise, he doesn’t make a damn to me.

Ever been enchanted by the “divine genius” of Joni Mitchell? Who hasn’t? Regardless of her accolades, Joni Mitchell has affected and probably changed me for the better. There’s a vein of blue like a mineral or river running through me always thanks to Joni. Whether she’s the “most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century(AllMusic) or not—she’s got pipes and balls. Her statement on Spotify rings more virtuous than even Neil Young’s. But I don’t expect what Joni Mitchell feels is right will enhance or change my life either.

And the list goes on…throw in Graham Nash and Nils Lofgren and you’ve a perfect mix of celebrities and figures of culture I am nonplussed with and even repulsed by.

David Crosby WIKIPEDIA

Ever been enlightened by Joe Rogan? Me neither. Besides the advancement of the long-form interview, I am unmoved by the Joe Rogan Experience. His contribution to the form and medium of the spoken word isn’t anything Marc Maron or Dave Chapelle haven’t done (though I suppose the latter isn’t the best example of compassion or morality either). He’s an unfunny comic who leads intellectual discourse that disputes science and features hatemongers like Alex Jones and Jordan Petersen on his show.

We can agree with writer Michael Tallon that Rogan’s “aggressively toxic,” and Devin Gordon is right—the Joe Rogan Experience is a safe space for retrograde assholes. I don’t suppose you need The Guardian to point out the inaccuracies on COVID he’s spouted. Neither would I expect you need to be told what’s right by David Crosby. They don’t make a damn to me. The wealthy class of fame is in itself a sham but, post-COVID and in the Anthropocene, grotesque.

In my own state of Texas, the blinkering power in another world’s-end winter storm interrupted work on this article. Not 200 miles from where I sat working, our state Governor, who’s made it easier to carry a gun than get an abortion, was booed off stage at a Trump rally in Conroe for being too liberal. In my hometown of Philly on Friday, a fight broke out in the buffet line at the Golden Corral due to a lack of steak.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, WIKIPEDIA

”You better pray there is no God.”
Edward Hamell

I was wrapping a 28-hour work weekend when I woke up with what felt like COVID on Sunday morning. I had a negative test while drinking Cafe Bustello and doing the research for this piece. For my double, I drove straight through, parked in the mega lot of the HEB, and downed hot gumbo and sweet tea while listening to Psalmships on Bandcamp before reporting to the night shift.

I listened on Bandcamp because I couldn’t listen to Another Tongue, an album that I own, from my library. I can’t share it with anyone who doesn’t use the same streaming service I do either. At a point when our access to media is unprecedented, we’ve less control over it than when we could hold it in our hands. Many of the artists who created the indelible work that’s sustained me for years aren’t doing great either. David Lowery’s gleaned some victory against the murky licensing practices of access-based music services but as recently as last week HiPiece was caught selling the rights to NFTs of Spotify’s entire catalog.

“Ghost Folk” from Philadelphia BANDCAMP

The power went out again, just after I checked—Spotify’s shares were down 15.64%, but I don’t suppose Daniel Ek is losing sleep or relying on Ibuprofen to get him through the workweek. What’s more, electricity and heat and health insurance aren’t on his, or Joe Rogan and Neil Young’s minds. Certainly not President Biden’s either as he hunkers down with the Chancellor of Germany over his own personal chessboard of the globe.

“It won’t move any sort of needle but I removed my podcast from Spotify,” Roxanne Gay tweeted in the middle of it all, and you ain’t lyin, Roxanne. Will these millionaire arbiters set us to rights and steer us toward decency? Will we be enabled by game show hosts and OG punk rockers to think critically and gaze upon a different and better future? Probably not. I suppose you could take Will Dunn’s advice and go somewhere with a little more class than Spotify. Like the underground. It’ll be like you never left, motherfucker.

Making a living does not a living make.  (Author’s work gloves, 2017)

 

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