Neil Young to Donald Trump: Don’t use my song.

Donald Trump announcing his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination (Photo courtesy of CNN)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Want to see Springsteen Mellencamp, Sting and Foo Fighters perform?  Don’t go to a Republican campaign event.

Now, Neil Young joins a long roster of rockers who don’t want to share their music with candidates.

Take one candidate, one big announcement by none other than Donald Trump, and you have the fastest way to anger a liberal rock star.

Neil Young is none too pleased with Donald Trump’s song choice Tuesday when he announced he’s running for the GOP presidential nomination.

Young’s manager released a statement saying, “Donald Trump was not authorized to use “Rockin’ In The Free World” in his presidential candidacy announcement. Neil Young is a supporter of Bernie Sanders.”

Trump’s Republican opponent Marco Rubio isn’t faring much better.  He angered the Swedish group Axwell and Ingrosso by using their song “Something New” in his announcement.

The group has since released a statement saying they don’t wish to be affiliated with a political party.

None of this is new.

The list of rock stars riled up by the misuse of their music reads like a roster at the rock and roll hall of fame: Tom Petty, Sting and John Mellencamp.  That’s the enviable lineup for Just George W. Bush’s acoustic offenses.

John McCain’s playlist of miffed musicians after his presidential bid includes Van Halen, the Foo Fighters and Jackson Browne who actually sued the senator for using his song  “Running on Empty” without permission. He settled with McCain.

Jackson Browne says using someone song without their permission is wrong. “You can’t take someone’s song and used it without paying them.”

In the 2016 contest, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wasn’t sued but received this blunt tweet from rockers The Dropkick Murphy’s after he used their music:  “Stop using our music in any way” they wrote in January saying,  “We literally hate you.”

As for Trump, Keep on Rockin in the Free World didn’t make much sense anyway – it’s a protest song against 80’s Republican politics and consumer culture.

In that way, at least, Trump is following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan who 31 years ago referenced “Born in the USA” to boost his message, much to the frustration of Bruce Springsteen who wrote the song about America’s problems, not its political promise.


Democrats aren’t immune from similar ruffling of rockers’ feathers.    But, it does seem the GOP has more of a track record when it comes to appropriating pop music for politics.

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