70s Neil Young and Joni Mitchell Discuss Joe Rogan and Spotify
1970s Neil Young and Joni Mitchell time traveling to the future
Joni: Hey Neil, I mean old Neil. Are you following this Spotify thing?
Neil: What’s Spotify?
Joni: Oh, um, well how much do you know about 2022 America?
Neil: How much do YOU know about 2022 America?
Joni: I just watch it when there’s nothing else on, when I get tired of Law and Order SVU reruns and Pioneer Woman. But lately, I’ve been spending way too much time on Twitter. Remember that whole save the world thing? Twitter makes a pretty good case against that.
Neil: Wow, Joni, that’s dark.
Joni: It gets darker.
Neil: So what’s Spotify?
Joni: Oh how to explain it. No one buys their music as records anymore. Records as we once knew them don’t exist. Everything is electronic and people just pay for a music service and listen to any songs they want.
Neil: Whoa. Man. No. That can’t be.
Joni: Ya, it is. Same for movies. People don’t really go to the movies anymore. They watch them at home. And there aren’t bookstores either much. They’re around, here or there but almost everyone buys their books online.
Joni: We’re going to be here all day. Yes, there’s this thing called the internet. People connect to it - almost everyone on the planet connects to it with their phones or their computers.
Neil: Phones connect to an internet? People have computers?
Joni: Yes, look, I don’t have time to explain it all to you.
Neil: How does the musician get paid?
Joni: Well, that’s the thing. They don’t really. Not the way they used to. Well we know record companies have always screwed over artists but now? We’re in the churn. We basically are part of someone’s road trip oldies playlist or no one listens to us at all. The days when people rushed out to buy our records - man, those days are GONE. So now, on top of that, 2022 you has dragged me off of Spotify so now I can’t even on some Zoomer’s oldies playlist.
Joni: In 2022 you want this guy — Joe Rogan — dropped from Spotify. “It’s him or me,” you said. “You can’t have both.” Now look man, this Rogan - he’s basically a stoner dude who shoots the shit with people on his show. It’s wildly popular. Hundreds of millions of people listen to him. He thinks I’m Rickie Lee Jones but he really likes you. Anyway, the Biden administration is failing across the board to stop the spread of the Coronavirus - and because of that, they’re trying to blame anyone they can for why so many people have died on Biden’s watch. They refuse to get vaccinated is why. So they think Joe Rogan is the main reason for that and that is why 2022 you want him off of Spotify.
Joni: Bad pandemic, lab grown virus probably half-funded by our own government. Anyway, it has killed almost a million people in the US. The vaccine can helps save lives but people have been afraid to take it. 1970s you would be out in the street protesting the cover-up of the lab leak. 2022 you is on the internet demanding Spotify ban Joe Rogan. The times, they have a-changed. You might want to re-think the Rocking in the Free World lyrics.
Neil: Wait, so why does 2022 me think it’s all Joe Rogan’s fault?
Joni: I mean he — you — probably watch too much CNN. Or Rachel Maddow. That’s the case they’re making because they are running out of people to blame. Certainly not themselves for saying nothing when hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets to protest in the Summer of 2020 wearing — and only barely wearing — cloth masks. It’s okay it’s outside, they said. It’s okay they’re wearing cloth masks, they said. But the CDC knew cloth masks did not prevent the spread and still they said nothing. It’s only now after more than a year that they have finally admitted cloth masks do not stop the spread of COVID. Do you think any of them will be punished for not being honest to a vulnerable public? Nope.
Neil: I don’t see how 2022 me would demand some guy be taken off the air. I’m for free speech, man.
Joni: You WERE for free speech. That was before Trump. Before the Coronavirus. Before the left lost its mind.
Neil: Oh come on, the left was always crazy.
Joni: No, no, no, no. We’re not talking cults in the desert crazy. We’re not talking living in a van on Venice beach crazy. We’re not even talking naked grape stomps crazy. We’re talking a whole new level of crazy now. We’re talking Stalin’s Soviet Union here. Mao’s China.
Neil: Hey man, ain’t nothing wrong with communism. It’s how you feed the people.
Joni: Forget about the feeding the people part. Think about the totalitarian part.
Neil: Well so what do we do now, sell records again?
Joni: No, man, that ship has sailed. We have to figure out how to get back on Spotify. Apple isn’t going to cut it.
Neil: Apple? What the hell is Apple?
Joni: It’s a massive corporation like all of the massive corporations that control all American life now. They consolidated. They are so big that one of them banned the President of the United States. They have rendered the US Constitution null and void. Who needs the First Amendment when the gatekeepers to free speech are large corporations that almost everyone depends on to make a living. They are all connected - banks, credit card companies, internet service providers, publishing houses. If a company like Time Warner owns many other companies they can practice top-down authoritarianism and you have no choice but to comply.
Neil: But aren’t we having a conversation on Substack?
Joni: Yes, Substack is one of the few prominent places that allows for conversations that can’t be had anywhere else. Thank god for Substack.
Neil: So what do you want me to do?
Joni: I want you to remember who you used to be. I mean, to remind your old self of who you used to be, someone who stands up for human rights and freedom of expression and free speech and the rights for citizens to make their own choices.
Neil: But wait a minute, didn’t the whole thing start because that Rogan guy was spreading misinformation or disinformation?
Joni: You can’t support authoritarianism. You can’t demand they fire Rogan for his thoughts. It ain’t right, man. It ain’t right.
Neil: I’m sure 2022 Neil had his reasons for leaving Spotify. They obviously didn’t value him…me…enough to toss out Rogan instead.
Joni: They gave Rogan a $100 million contract. His is the most popular podcast in the country. Probably his contract stipulates that they can’t micromanage his content. If they fire him I’m sure he would sue the pants off of them and not only win a substantial settlement but then turn around and go on Sirus or some other podcasting service, all would be begging for his content - people would crawl across cut glass to listen to his show. You know why? Because his show is one of the few places where people still talk about things without fear. Hardly anyone else does. They’re all like thought robots because everyone is connected and everyone has to agree and if anyone doesn’t agree they’re attacked, shunned, or fired. They have to come here, to Substack.
Neil: Man, this is all really heavy, Joni. Can’t we just go back to, you know, the Last Waltz when you sang back-up vocals on Helpless? Remember that? It was so beautiful.
Joni: We don’t live in that kind of world anymore, Neil! Wake up! It’s gone! It’s all GONE! That kind of fire, that kind of spirit does not exist anymore. We used to be the side defending the right to have your own opinion in America! We used to be the side that stood up for free speech! 1970s you would be on Rogan’s side! It is destroying art, music, science, journalism. You have these frozen faces of people who are deathly afraid of saying one wrong thing. They’re so afraid of being called out for getting something wrong you can see it on their faces, you can hear it in their music, you can see it in their movies. FEAR. They’re afraid of each other. They’re afraid of their fans. They're afraid of the corporations that control their careers. Everyone is afraid.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the art that has replaced actual art is propaganda. I remember how songs, movies and art used to be more universal because it was subversive and celebrated for that. Now it is celebrated if it is compliant. It has to check the boxes. It has to meet the requirements of our modern utopian ideal. It has to name the “right” villains, and reward the “right” heroes. Step out of line and you’re done.
Neil: So what are you saying, Joni? You want back on Spotify because you want to support freedom of expression and you want to support their standing by Rogan or because you need the money?
Joni: Well both, if I’m honest. Both. Except Spotify pay’s crap. What else is new.
Neil: I’m not really sure where it went all wrong for us. I know we have the best of intentions, to keep people safe and trusting of the vaccine.
Joni: Do we though? Is that what this is about? I think it’s about a show of power. Ban Trump from Twitter is a show of power by the alliance of powerful corporations with the new religion on the Left. Firing Joe Rogan would be a show of power. They would be able to continue to threaten people to comply or else. It isn’t even about the vaccine. It is a war on free and independent thinking, which is now verboten. You are told what you should think. You are told how you should think. You are severely punished if you commit … wait or it … thought crimes.
Neil: Yes, Joni, I know you read 1984. You only have been talking about it for 40 years now.
Joni: Well, it finally came true.
Neil: I can’t go back on my righteous act.
Joni: Wait a few days. Twitter will be onto some new hysteria-driven controversy. That’s our reality now. Lurching from one outrage to the next. Who will get the axe in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. Who will be forced to love Big Brother or else.
Neil: Jeez, I know you read, Joni.
Joni: Love you Neil.
Neil: Love you, Joni.