Neil Young becomes an American citizen

January 24, 2020 • 8:15 am

I didn’t realize that one of my music heroes, Neil Young, had crossed into America illegally many years ago—in, as Rolling Stone reports, a Pontiac hearse—but I suppose his status has since been legalized. But it took until yesterday, 54 years since he came to this country, for him to become an American citizen. (Young is now 74.)

“I’m happy to report I’m in!” the Canadian-born musician wrote on his website after months of struggle to obtain his dual citizenship. Young explained to fans that the process had been delayed because of the “good moral character” provision on the immigrant application — meaning he admitted to smoking weed.

On Wednesday afternoon, Young and his wife, actress Daryl Hannah, obtained his naturalization documents at the Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles. He celebrated in a video on his Instagram, singing “I’m proud to be a Canarican” in the tune of “God Bless the U.S.A.” while waving around miniature American and Canadian flags.

Young kicked off 2020 by detailing upcoming archive releases on his website, including concert films like 1990’s Way Down in the Rust Bucket and 2003’s Greendale Live. He’s also planning to release the long-awaited legendary LP Homegrown, and a live album with his 1977 Santa Cruz supergroup, the Ducks.

The Ducks!

Here’s Young’s announcement on Instagram (click on screenshot to see it on the original site):

Don’t be fooled by the salute into thinking he’s any kind of Republican. Young has been quite critical of Trump, and note where he’s standing.

And another one in which he sings “I’m proud to be a Canarican” to the tune of “God Bless the U.S.A.” while waving miniature American and Canadian flags.  (Click on screenshot to go to the site and hear his singing).

As Bari Weiss tweeted, paraphrasing the play Hamilton: “Immigrants—they get the job done.” Weiss was excoriated by the woke for that, since the woman she was praising, Olympic skater Mirai Nagasu, wasn’t really a first-generation immigrant but the daughter of immigrants from Japan. What a tempest in a teapot! (Weiss’s response to woke kvetching is here.)

But I digress. Young really is an immigrant, and he did get the job done—that is, producing superb music that will last for decades. (Another great immigrant was Christopher Hithchens.) Welcome to America, Neil, and join us at the polls this November! Long may you run, much longer than Trump, I hope!

39 thoughts on “Neil Young becomes an American citizen

  1. Well I’ll be – you mean that whole time, he was… he wasn’t… I mean…

    This is great, great news for a Friday afternoon in the universe… in the free world….

    I mean how honest a guy – to admit that back then.

  2. I am curious. So was he legally in the US for 54 years? I am just assuming he has been living in the US since the Buffalo Springfield days.

      1. According to Wikipedia, yes, he has had a green card since 1970. “Young admitted in a 2009 interview that he was in the United States illegally until he received a “green card” (permanent residency permit) in 1970″. Many of his most famous hits were recorded before that. Which I guess only goes to show that even people that are in the US illegally can make impressive contributions.

    1. Canarican is redundant since Canadians are Americans. The people from the United States always steal things from Canada including our American identity. The defining characteristic of the USA is that there are states that are united, the states happen to be in the Americas. There are other states in the Americas that aren’t united together. I’d suggest we call these people “The United Ones” or “USians”.

      (I’m just joking in case that wasn’t obvious)

      1. Yeah but they have to take back Bieber. He was all nice and sweet when he went to the US then he became a PITA and came back to Canada. You broke it you bought it.

          1. Hey–the Bieb’s a huge Leafs fan, and a buddy of Auston Matthews, so the kid’s alright [sic] in my book!

  3. I have been lucky enough to see Neil Young in concert eight times. First time was back around 1976. He played two show in one night at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. We had tickets to the second show which was supposed to start at 10pm. It actually started started around 12:45am. Neil started the show by saying it takes a special kind of person to come to a concert that starts at 1am.

    My favorite Young show was October of 1978 at the old Chicago Stadium. Yes, it was possible to do a great show in a cavernous hockey rink. This was the “Rust Never Sleeps” tour. The album was not released yet – did not come out until after the tour. A great album. But it was all new material at that time. Some people were expecting his classics but it was mostly Rust. It was very well received. He did do Tonight’s the Night for an encore.

    Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) used to do pregame videos set to various songs. Back in the day, Neil’s father Scott was a broadcaster on HNIC. In 2013, during the Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins, (won by the Hawks – 17 seconds baby) one of the videos was set to Young’s Out of the Blue and Into the Black from Rust. In addition to great hockey action, it features father and son, Scott and Neil.

    1. Every hockey team should have it’s own MD and dentist. 😎

      I used to play as a kid in Toronto, but we never let the puck go higher than waist-high.

    2. “Hockey Night in Canada” — when couples across the great white north do it doggy style so they can both keep watching the game on teevee, eh? 🙂

  4. Some interesting stuff getting released from Neil’s archives at the moment. Here’s an electric version of ‘New Mama’ (from Tonight’s the Night’ album).

    Or this weird and amusing song, ‘Hawaii’, from an album he intended to release in 1977, but his record company refused — the whole thing was recorded in one session, more or less, with just Neil playing guitar. Not ‘produced’ enough for the tastes of the record company, but contained some classics recorded again later.

    Readers here might find this interesting — from 2014, from an album of old American folk songs performed as grunge (!!!) — here he is with Crazy Horse, doing a song he
    renamed ‘Jesus’ Chariot’ and emphasised the usually ignored chicken-sacrificing aspects of it

    (He’d wanted to record an album with the Horse, but they hadn’t been practising and sounded dreadful when they turned to record, so he did this stuff to warm them up– the album is called ‘Americana’, and the song used to be called ‘She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain’.)

  5. As a graduate of the University of Oregon, I can now say, “Go Ducks!” with added meaning. When Rocky the flying squirrel asked Bullwinkle the moose what to do whenever they got into trouble, Bullwinkle would always respond, “Move to Canada”. Isn’t Neil going the wrong way?

  6. Wow, that you’re a Neil Young fan blows my mind. I now have another reason to keep recommending your blog to others. I’ve recently returned to the guitar and learned the chords to, “Cinnamon Girl”. The lazy opening guitar notes to, “Cortez the Killer” are still a favorite too—not least after having partaken of one herb or another.

  7. I love Neil Young. I always thought of him as American, since he sings so much about America, and the imagery of his songs is so quintessentially American. It was relatively late that I found out he was Canadian.

    About the age of sixteen I just hoovered up everything he released in the sixties and seventies. There was a mail-order service called Sister Ray that sold ‘classic albums’ for £6.99, an absolutely huge list of them, and they’d advertise at the back of the NME. I just bought everything in that list and educated myself(I lived in a small village, and didn’t really have any friends that were into music). It was typical stuff: all the great albums by the Velvets, The Clash, Sonic Youth, Television, The Smiths, Prince, etc.

    Eventually I got around to Neil Young and the first album I bought was After The Goldrush, and that was it really. I was in love. I still think that’s his apogee, but the 70s trio of Zuma, Rust Never Sleeps and Tonight’s The Night have been soundtracking my life ever since I heard them. He’s just one of those artists that gets into your bones.

    1. I think Neil Peart also had dual citizenship as he lived in LA and was married to an American, who he had a daughter with. The important thing is Peart was born in Hamilton. 🙂

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