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

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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.”