Graham Reid | | 1 min read
An artist, sportsperson or public figure who doesn't accept, let alone solicit, corporate money these days is a rarity, possibly even considered somewhat odd -- and maybe even suspect.
But back when people like Michael Jackson and Madonna were lining up for Pepsi/Coke dollars and rap stars were schilling for shoes, Neil Young stepped out and said, "Ain't singin' for Pepsi, ain't singin' for Coke, I don't sing for nobody, makes me look like a joke".
The Julien Temple-directed clip for this deliberate poke at Jackson and the like (see below) initially went unaired by MTV after Jackson's lawyers made threats, but it went on to win an MTV award -- and ironically lost out at the Grammys in its category to Weird Al Yankovich's Fat . . . Al's parody of Jackson's Bad.
No wonder Jackson felt folks was agin hm.
And some were agin Neil, notably Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes who insisted he not use his chosen band name. Subsequently the album appeared just under Young's name.
The Young/Bluenotes album was a mostly middling affair (the quieter numbers like Coupe De Ville and Twilight were among the better tracks, and in a typical bite/hand/feed on the track Hey Hey he says "get off that couch, turn off that MTV").
But it marked something of the end to Young's crazy decade where he turned in albums which slewed from rock to techno-rock (Trans), rockabilly (Everybody's Rockin') and country (Old Ways). His label Geffen got litigious, Young returned to Reprise for This Note's For You.
Young didn't stay long on this "power swing" kick with a horn section and in interviews acknowledged his position against sponsorship was idealistic "because when you get right down to it I have to play the Budweiser concert series because they make a deal with the promoter".
"I can't get around it, but I want people to know it's not me making the deal with Budweiser or Miller".
He also said Sinatra could have sung some of the songs on the Bluenotes' album.
That bears thinking about too.
For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.