Neil Young has spent his long career penning songs about the things that irk him, both politically and personally, but for the past few decades he's opted to drag out his complaints in a longer form—the rock opera. There was Living with War, Young's 2006 anti-Iraq War album, then his 2009 record about green energy and electric cars, Fork in the Road.
This year, he's decided to extend a grizzled finger and call out some corporate giants that he believes need to be taken to task for their GMO farming policies and general depravity. Young's new album, The Monstanto Years, due out June 29, sets its sights on the titular agricultural behemoth as well as Starbucks, Chevron, and Walmart, with songs like the single "Rock Starbucks" (recently retitled with the punnier "A Rock Star Bucks a Coffee Shop").
In the sake of inclusiveness, Billboard decided to send lyrics from The Monsanto Years to the corporations Young attacked to see what they had to say in response. Chevron declined to comment, but Walmart countered Neil's lyrical assertion that "People working part time at Walmart never get the benefits for sure / Might not make it to full-time at Walmart."
"As you might have seen recently," a Walmart spokesman wrote, "Walmart raised its lowest starting wage to $9 an hour. We're proud of the opportunity we provide people to build a career and have a chance at a better life."
Monsanto also took the opportunity to speak out, and did so with a little more earnestness than Walmart's canned PR response.
"Many of us at Monsanto have been and are fans of Neil Young," they told Billboard. "Unfortunately, for some of us, his current album may fail to reflect our strong beliefs in what we do every day to help make agriculture more sustainable. We recognize there is a lot of misinformation about who we are and what we do—and unfortunately several of those myths seem to be captured in these lyrics."
See, Neil? Monsanto are good guys, just trying to do the best they can. Why don't you all have some corn and make up?
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