Neil Young Objects to Donald Trump’s Use of ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’

Neil Young Donald Trump
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When Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy at Trump Tower on Tuesday morning, he took the stage to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

The problem: Young is objecting to Trump’s use of his 1989 work. In fact, Young is endorsing a candidate on the other side of the political spectrum, Bernie Sanders.

“Donald Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ in his presidential candidacy announcement,” said a statement from Young’s manager, Elliot Roberts of Lookout Management. “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for president of the United States of America.”

But Trump’s campaign says they did secure authorization, but they won’t use it again.

A Trump campaign spokeswoman said, “Through a license agreement with ASCAP, Mr. Trump’s campaign paid for and obtained the legal right to use Neil Young’s recording of ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ at today’s event. Nevertheless, we won’t be using it again — there are plenty of songs to choose from. Despite Neil’s differing political views, Mr. Trump likes Neil very much.” 

At his announcement, Trump tried to distinguish himself from a crowded GOP field.

But he’s joining a long line of Republican candidates who have stirred the ire of musicians objecting to their choice of music. In the last cycle, Steve Perry objected to Newt Gingrich’s use of “Don’t Stop Believin'” at campaign events, and Tom Petty objected to Michele Bachmann’s use of “American Girl.” In 2008 Jackson Browne sued over the use of his song “Running on Empty” in a pro-John McCain campaign video.

“Rockin’ in the Free World” debuted in 1989 as part of Young’s album “Freedom.”


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    1. June says:

      Donald Trump running for president should be the source of many laughs. Hillary Clinton running for president should the source of many tears. They are both TERRIBLE candidates.

    2. Clarke says:

      Neil Young should be ECSTATIC that anyone is playing one of his 2 “hits” culled over a lifetime of mediocre music.

    3. IT 2 IT says:

      4 decades of RED CHINA handover?

      6 decades of MACY Group social engineering, franchise slums and mind control?

      BEHOLD you “EYE—CONs’!


    4. Linda says:

      Neil Young is a old socialist Canadian goat. It’s a free country and Trump can use those words if he wants.

      • cyn inoregon says:

        So, which is the characteristic that costs Neil Young his rights under international intellectual property laws—his status as “old?” Do you become a free market where people can just walk into your life and help themselves when you get old? Or is it being socialist (I wonder where you get the idea Neil is a socialist? I’ve never heard him say any such thing…he talks a lot about his farm–but there is no commune there… Is it the fact he is Canadian that makes you think he should forfeit his property rights in his music? Or whatever you think is a “goat?”

        This election feels like an IQ test where the dumbest and most uninformed citizens (used loosely) are trying to trash the country and economy in revenge for what they see as educated or successful people abusing them–when, in reality, it is their own sad and stupid use of their right to vote that has screwed them!

        They voted for Reagan even though we warned them repeatedly that he wanted to destroy unions–collective bargaining–and that would mean they’d lose the great jobs with great pay, benefits… Before that, I remember them attacking us college kids for “wasting” our time in school–they earned more than us, after all! Well, they will never admit we were right, but they did lose everything starting in 1980, even though we voted in THEIR best interest, not our own! They doubled down and voted for Bush 41, blamed Clinton alone for NAFTA even though Bush negotiated it, Clinton signed it, and everyone thought it would help every job and the economy. These folks never voted for anti-Trade Agreement candidates. They again voted against self-interest in 2000, 2004. Dems warned them but they were proud to vote for the guy they wanted to share a beer or a barbecue with, another rich kid who never held a job in his life. And he gave them more Trickle Down, a war in the wrong country in response to terrorism he did not prevent, and the worst economic crash of our lives. When will they learn? Now their guy, Trump, wants to give his rich buddies a tax break that is over 19% of their much higher taxes to begin with–while workers–Trump’s voter’s–are to get a break of just 4.6% of their much lower taxes!

        It’s scandalous to me that he’d offer them peanuts while damaging the entire economy with these huge tax breaks for the richest people–which has statistically never worked to create jobs or higher income! There is one way that works to create jobs–that is to create more jobs for working class people. When a worker (not an executive) gets a job–say a construction worker, teacher, firefighter, police–get a job, they spend every dime on kids clothing and school supplies, computers, bicycles, car repairs, education, etc. And this fact creates more jobs which in turn create yet more jobs in a pattern that is undeniable–and called a stimulus. And what Republicans blocked Obama from passing for the last 8 years! Willing to trash the people of the U.S. to try to make the President’s record worse. But do Republican voters see this? Of course not. They blame the President….

        Just like the stimulus of creating working class jobs creates more jobs, raising the minimum wage raises wages of every worker. Giving the treasury to the richest Americans is not what raises wages for regular people! We know that. Otherwise, WalMart would have the highest wages in America. But they have some of the lowest. Taxpayers subsidize their medical care with MedicAid, subsidizes their food budgets with food stamps, and helps them with rent under the Section 8 housing assistance. And WalMart heirs are as wealthy, combined, as the bottom (in wealth) 40 to 50% of Americans. Making rich people richer only helps sell Jet aircraft, European cars that cost more than other peoples’ homes, like Trump’s $600,000 Mercedes. Yet the Republican voters vote for failing ideas and even after they unbalance the budget, quadruple the debt, and destroy the economy and the planet’s peace. It is bizarre.

        I love this song, and was so shocked to hear Trump–the most pathetic and uninformed to the point of dangerous–excuse for a leader or a statesman ever to enter the political stage–when this hideous horrid man stole this great song–if there is anyone who does not epitomize Neil, it is Trump! Finally, “free country” does not mean we lose our rights in either physical, real, or intellectual property. Do you think it means I can drive away in your pick-up? Or help myself to anything in your house? We may have solved Trump’s crazy crime statistic here! Do you think being a “free country” entitles you to steal? Is this idea shared by your political cronies? Or does your hatred for those who disagree with you politically color your beliefs and respect so dramatically, like those who insult his music–one of the most popular singer-songwriters in our history?

    5. Mike says:

      Neil’s cool..I always like his tunes…Donald is cool…I like his comb over and bonbastic attitude…they should get along famously..

      • cyn inoregon says:

        There is nothing “cool” about Trump–a racist, a pathological liar with narcissistic anti-social personality disorder, a pathological liar who asked an expert trying to teach him about security issues and international relations why couldn’t he use nuclear weapons? After all, if he were President, he’d have access to nukes….what was wrong with using them? Three times he brought this out, each time the expert tried to explain the concept of deterrence, but it never permeated….just as the concept that perhaps he may want to take Europe off the map of places he’d ever use nuclear weapons….but NO! He never could understand why to limit himself….

    6. Someone please use Neil Young’s new song against Monsanto and GMOs song.

    7. jazz says:

      and let’s not forget the ignorance of the reagan campaign, using bruce spiringsteen’s ‘born in the u.s.a.’ as their theme song, without even paying attention to the lyrics, which do not actually reflect well on the u.s. at all…

    8. Munkiman says:

      It happened to Obama twice: Both Cyndi Lauper and Sam Moore asked Democrats and the Obama campaign to stop using their songs, but not on philosophical grounds.

      In the 2012 Obama campaign, Lauper’s “True Colors ” was used in commercials to go after Mitt Romney. Lauper, who supported Obama, was upset she was not asked for approval and stated, “Mr. Romney can discredit himself without the use of my work.”

      During the 2008 campaign, Sam & Dave’s “Hold On! I’m Coming was used at Obama rallies. But Moore had not been consulted about its use.

    9. I predicted right away that Neil would object. A confirmed progressive, NY is as much as supporter of Trump as I am of driving the wrong way on Broadway. Egomaniac Trump will get no closer to the Oval Office than the Naked Cowboy. Notice that The Donald’s people hijacked Rockin in the Free World from ASCAP but seemingly never contacted Neil himself. Trump just assumed it was OK to appropriate someone’s IP. That about tells you his plans for the working citizens of the USA — fire first, ask questions later.

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