Living With War
After watching a news item about US soldiers in Iraq, Young responded by writing nine songs in a week. He recorded them quickly with the same power trio of Rick Rosas and Chad Cromwell who performed on Freedom in 1989, and backed them up with a 100 person choir. Young purposely wrote Living With War as a coherent whole, allowing it to stream only as a full work, and ending it with a cover of ‘America The Beautiful’. It’s certainly provocative, with songs titles like ‘Let’s Impeach The President’ and ‘The Restless Consumer’.
Musically it’s better arranged than some of Young’s quickly developed recent albums – the three piece band sounds terrific, and ‘After The Garden’ is one of my favourite Young album openers ever with its splashy feel and harmonised chorus. ‘The Restless Consumer’ lands some telling lines (“How do you pay for war/And leave us dyin’?/When you could do so much more/You’re not even tryin'”). But as a quickly written, spontaneous creation, Living With War feels melodically lazy sometimes; ‘Flags of Freedom’ is transparently a rewrite of Dylan’s ‘Chimes of Freedom’, and there aren’t quite enough memorable songs to sustain it.
But Young’s heart is in right place, and Living With War is a likeable, if slight, late career effort.