It’s hard to imagine two public gatherings more diametrically opposed than the Bridge School Benefit at Shoreline Amphitheater and Donald Trump’s 2020 rally at the foot of Mt. Rushmore. However, both events shared at least one thing in common: Renditions of some of Neil Young’s most popular songs, including “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk.”
Young won’t stand for it any longer.
After years of complaining about Trump using his music — along with artists ranging from Bruce Springstein to Rihanna — Young filed a lawsuit against the Trump campaign on Aug. 4, claiming that the President’s use of his songs at rallies violates copyright law.
In the suit, Young says he cannot “in good conscience … allow his music to be used as a ‘theme song’ for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate.” Young is seeking $150,000 in damages, in addition to demanding that Trump stop playing his music.
Young frequently performs at charity concerts, and for decades helped to organize the annual Bridge School Benefit at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, which supported the special education school that he and his late wife, Peggi, founded for children with disabilities.
Young may have a “Heart of Gold,” but his lawsuit is anything but a sure thing. It could be a long, expensive battle over complicated licensing agreements that may not be resolved until after the campaign has ended.
Whatever happens, it looks like Neil Young has opened yet another front in the culture war between the Bay Area and the Trump.