Neil Young at Farm Aid 2007

Earlier this month, the 22nd Farm Aid benefit concert took place at Randall’s Island in New York. As usual, Willie Nelson and Farm Aid's other three famous board members, Dave Matthews, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp headlined this year's concert.

“We’ll be doing Farm Aid until we die,” Mellencamp told the New York Times. “We had no idea that this would last 22 years. Last time we got together, we looked at each other and started laughing. ‘Can you believe we’re still here?’ ”

Farm Aid grew out of a remark Bob Dylan made at the Live Aid concert in 1985: “Wouldn’t it be great if we did something for our own farmers right here in America?” Nelson liked that idea and contacted Young and Mellencamp, who was about to release his album Scarecrow, with a song about a farmer losing his land to a foreclosure. In six weeks they put together what turned out to be the first Farm Aid on Sept. 22, 1985, in Champaign, Ill.

Neil Young’s set, the subject of today’s post, drew decent reviews from Rolling Stone: “Neil Young, as usual, completely walked away with the show. Joined only by his wife Pegi on acoustic guitar and pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith, Young did an eight-song set of hits (“Heart of Gold”), obscurities (”Human Highway”) and Farm Aid staples (”Homegrown”). It was his first set in nearly a year but he sounded like he had been perfecting his show on the road for months.”

There were some, though, who wanted Young to tone down his politics: “As Young introduced his Farm Aid staple ‘Homegrown,’ explaining that the meaning of the song had changed over the years from a flippant marijuana reference to a plea for the purchasing of family farm-generated products, one drunken voiced interrupted, urging him to ‘just sing, Neil.’” (from Bad News Beat)

This is an audience recording, so the sound quality’s not A+, but it’s pretty decent.

Human Highway.mp3
Silver and Gold.mp3
Beautiful Bluebird.mp3
Too Far Gone.mp3
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.mp3
Heart of Gold.mp3
Enter Willie Nelson and Mickey Raphael.mp3
Four Strong Winds.mp3

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