Neil Young
Neil Young at Farm Aid 30. Photo © Paul Natkin/Image Direct

Against the Grain Podcast | December 20, 2023

Against the Grain BONUS Episode – Neil Young: Truth to Power

We know some of you may be traveling in the next week or two, so we created this bonus episode as our holiday gift to you. In this episode we’ll highlight one of our Farm Aid board members, the legendary Neil Young. 

Listen to our first BONUS episode below, and make sure to subscribe in your podcast app of choice!


Episode Guest


Neil Young

Neil Young, who has been with Farm Aid since the beginning in 1985, has a career that can only be classified as unclassifiable. Each new dusty path he’s taken us on has been joyously unpredictable. As an artist, he’s risen to prominence as a musician, filmmaker, producer, director, author, activist, humanitarian and visionary who’s helped advance the formats with which we listen to music.

Young’s recording career began with The Squires in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1963. After moving to Los Angeles in the mid-60’s to find success with the band Buffalo Springfield, Young focused his attention on a solo career and found popularity that began with a steady stream of classic albums including 1970’s After the Gold Rush and 1972’s “Harvest.”

Young’s musical career has yielded numerous awards and accolades including an Oscar nomination, induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1982, and two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (for his solo work and as a member of Buffalo Springfield). In 2010, he won his first GRAMMY, and in 2011 he won his second. In 2010, he received the GRAMMY’s MusiCares Person of the Year award for his artistic and philanthropic accomplishments. Neil Young & Crazy Horse were nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award on for “Best Rock Album” for their album “Psychedelic Pill,” released by Reprise Records on November 19th, 2012.

Young has shared his passion for visual mediums by directing films and releasing them through his production company Shakey Pictures. Young’s filmography includes Rust Never Sleeps (1979) and the documentary CSNY/Déjà vu (2008). In June 2012, Sony Pictures Classics released Journeys, Jonathan Demme’s third film documenting Neil Young’s music (following Heart of Gold and Trunk Show).

Young remains an indefatigable recording and touring artist with several projects in the works at present. 2015’s “The Monsanto Years,” Neil’s 36th studio album is a collaboration with Lukas and Michal Nelson, Willie Nelson’s sons, and Lukas’ band Promise of the Real. His 2016 album,”EARTH,”flows as 13 live songs about the nature of life on our shared planet, spanning the breadth of Neil Young’s music. In this rocking revelatory cellular experience Neil Young + Promise of the Real and the audience are unexpectedly joined by a legion of Earth’s living things.


Watch Videos Featured in this Episode


Check out Neil Young performing “Heart of Gold” at the very first Farm Aid in Champaign, Illinois on September 22, 1985.


Neil Young performs “Harvest Moon” at the Farm Aid concert in Seattle, Washington on September 18, 2004.



Neil Young & Promise of the Real perform “Harvest Moon” at Farm Aid 2019 at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin, on September 21.


Click here to check out our music playlists.


Episode Transcript
Click here to read the full transcript!


KURN: Hello and welcome to Against the Grain, the Farm Aid podcast. I’m Jessica Ilyse Kurn

FOLEY: And I’m Michael Stewart Foley and this is a special bonus episode.

KURN: That’s right. We know some of you may be traveling in the next week or two. So we created this bonus episode as our holiday gift to you in this episode. We’ll highlight one of our Farm Aid board members, the legendary Neil Young.

FOLEY: We hope this keeps you entertained and informed while on the road again… Well, that’s Willie Nelson. But you get the idea. Anyway, in addition to our full length episodes, we’ll be sharing more of these mini bonus episodes from time to time. They’ll focus on a particular artist, farmer activist or cause.

KURN: They are quick to enjoy and easy to share, and we hope you’ll do just that. Our next full length episode will be dropping after the holiday rush and you will not want to miss it. But for now travel with us to the very first Farm Aid concert in Champaign, Illinois on September 22nd, 1985.

[Neil Young sings “Heart of Gold” at Farm Aid in Champaign, Illinois on September 22, 1985]

FOLEY: Over the years, Neil has used his Farm Aid platform to speak truth to power on the interrelated causes of family farms, good food and the environment.

YOUNG: It’s about where it came from and how it was grown. Farm Aid’s greatest accomplishment I believe is in the spirit. It’s the fact that we represent the spirit of the good fight to keep something good happening and it’s just keeps getting stronger and stronger

KURN: When digging through our archives to find materials. For episode two, we found this next clip of Neil contrasting family farms with factory farms. And if you haven’t listened yet to episode two, it’s all about corporate dominance of our farm system and how it relates to your food.

YOUNG: Land is a beautiful, it’s just a beautiful thing. The natural way everything works the way the dew is on the grass in the morning when you wake up and you walk barefoot across your lawn or wherever you are, the way the animals behave throughout the day in their normal way of living. It’s so peaceful and so balanced and that is the way of life of the American farmer. In the tradition of this land, their spirit is so great that the corporations agribusiness packages their food to look like a farm. You’ll see the animals in the little red farmhouse and everything and that’s just like a total mistruth. It’s totally misleading everyone.

What they really should be looking at is a galvanized steel building with rows and rows and rows of trays with animals on trays piled on top of each other with feeding systems, all the waste from the animals goes down to the, to the bottom and goes out these shoots into these lagoons that are behind the place. And you can always tell a factory farm, especially a factory hog farm or a meat producing farm by the unbelievable smell. The whole thing is so uh so out of balance and we just have to keep focused and we have to keep talking about it and people have to keep eating uh good food because along with you dance again.

If you’d like to say thank you to me. That’s OK. If you could do it, you could do it a special way for me. Just go and buy some, go and buy some food grown by family farms.

Next time you go out to buy some food, just go somewhere where they got some food grown by some people, not by some factories and grown by some families, not by some board of directors grown, grown by people living in a house, not living at the top of a building in Chicago.

KURN: That was Neil Young in 2004 and here he is 15 years later expressing that same sentiment.

YOUNG: If you’re liking this show tonight, never drive by a farmer’s market again without stopping. We’ve been losing farms for too many years straight. It’s time for us to start going the other way and that’s really important for our planet because farmers are the protectors of the soil. They’re the ones who are going to bring the regenerative farming practices back across this country and make it so obvious we have to do this.

[Neil Young & Promise of the Real perform “Harvest Moon” at Farm Aid 2019]

FOLEY: That last clip was Neil speaking after he and the Promise of the Real performed Harvest Moon at Farm Aid 2019 in East Troy, Wisconsin. You can find all of the videos from which these clips were harvested and a whole lot more on our website.

KURN: We have loads of playlists for your holiday travel and beyond from past festivals and some compilations that we’ve created. Find a link to them at our website If you haven’t listened to episodes one and two, you can find those there as well or in your favorite podcast app and please don’t forget to subscribe!

FOLEY: In January, we’ll be back with an episode about Black and Indigenous land loss and farming stemming from generations of systemic racism. It’s an important episode and we can’t wait to share the interviews we’ve been conducting with you. This bonus episode of Against The Grain was written and produced by us with sound editing by Blurry Cowboy media. Many thanks as always to Micah Nelson for composing and performing our awesome theme music. And many thanks to the amazing Neil Young.

KURN: Also thanks to all the Farmers and all of you for listening. Special thanks to our founding partner Patagonia Workwear built for folks who bust us on the daily to leave our home planet better than they found it. Happy New Year from all of us at Farm Aid!


Special thanks to our founding partner, Patagonia Workwear.



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