One Track Mind: Neil Young, “Who’s Gonna Stand Up” (2014)

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This call to action begins as it should, as it must — with a scalding, confrontational lick. Neil Young’s newly released “Who’s Gonna Stand Up” never takes its foot off the gas, either. He enters the lyric with a head wind, scowling through a series of declamations against commerce’s encroachments on nature.

Young isn’t walking a new path here, as he’s been a leading voice on these issues for some time, career be damned. He has a white-knuckle belief system (as enunciated in his rousing chorus here, “it all starts with you and me”) that goes beyond any PR concerns, or — sometimes — even any musical ones.

Still, as “Who’s Gonna Stand Up” keeps building towards its churchy conclusion, adding muscular horns and a swaying group of voices to that furious riff, it moves beyond its screed-like lyrics, becoming a classically gnarled Young rocker — but with a bit of a gospel twist. Where ever you find yourself on these issues, he’s come up with music that we can all agree returns him to a ragged glory.

This theme, by the way, dovetails with a new documentary Young has been championing, called Under The Influence, though this version of “Who’s Gonna Stand Up” dates back to a show in Liverpool from last July.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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