aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, October 21, 2005
I didn’t buy; maybe I’ll buy some songs instead. Maybe not.
It’s hard to imagine someone on the cusp of 60 with nearly 40 albums to his name growing more inscrutable with age. But Young’s head, cluttered with marooned ideals and other people’s voices, has grown more fascinating over time, particularly on the three albums he has made since 9/11: the bizarre and unsettlingly frank Are You Passionate?; the gnarled, folkloric Greendale; and now the wispy, history-beaten Prairie Wind.
The appeal of Neil Young has always been mysterious. His voice is neither pretty nor strong, resembling the insistent, unsettled whine of a kettle whistle. He writes songs steeped in American Studies 101, yet he grew up in Canada, imbibing those notions at arm’s length. He has been a model of iconoclasm, nearly letting his career implode many, many times-most notably in the early-1980s, when he leaped from punk-approved arena rock to isolationist country to synth-pop to rockabilly, all while supporting Reagan.
Here Young talks about the new album with Scott Simon.
Should you have a right to running water?
I don’t know if it’s precisely a right, but we all agree it’s a necessity. Long ago I said telecom was too. How can we be citizens if we don’t get the information necessary to participate? So I was not fond of the move away, by the broadcast networks, from coverage of national political events with the reasoning being that “Cable covers them.”
Cable is not available to all. Neither is broadband:
The big change on the horizon is the move to enshrine access to a broadband connection as a basic right of citizenship. The slogan is being picked up here and abroad by a collection of interest groups and policy makers who view broadband as just too important to leave anymore to the vagaries of the private sector.
That’s not an argument that will sell. So there’s always this one:
With the United States’ ranking for broadband penetration plummeting from third place to sixteenth in just four years, this is more than an academic concern. The fear is this will translate into massive job losses to other nations.
Ultimately the question boils down to whether you believe broadband is so important that it should get treated like a public utility, in the much the same way as water or power. There’s no consensus about that and it’s doubtful the issue will be put on the national agenda before the next presidential election.