Arts

Neil Young wants Donald Trump to stop using ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’

Donald Trump is not the first presidential candidate to be admonished for using an artist’s song without permission.
KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
Donald Trump is not the first presidential candidate to be admonished for using an artist’s song without permission.

Donald Trump wants to rock in the free world, but Neil Young is not having it.

Trump, the billionaire businessman, drew Young’s rebuke Tuesday when he strode across the stage at Trump Tower to declare his presidential candidacy backed by Young’s song “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

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

Advertisement

That Young would take Trump to task for using his rock anthem and endorse someone more liberal could have been foreseen. After all, the song is famously liberal, having been written as an indictment of the poverty policies of the elder President George Bush’s administration. Trump is a Republican.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

He is not the first presidential candidate to be admonished for using an artist’s song without permission. In April, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., declared his candidacy to the electronic tune “Something New,” drawing disapproval from the Swedish duo Axwell and Ingrosso. Mitt Romney was a three-time offender during his 2012 campaign, drawing scorn for using K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag,” the Silversun Pickups’ “Panic Switch,” and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”

Nor is Trump the first conservative to use music with a mismatched message. Ronald Reagan praised Bruce Springsteen’s “message of hope” after Springsteen released the album “Born in the U.S.A.” The title song was written to protest broken government, the vast military-industrial complex and the mistreatment of U.S. war veterans, but it has become a patriotic anthem, and politicians of all stripes continue rocking to it.