...I'll give you another example: We had my song, "Teach Your Children," inYup - stand up, have courage, give a shit - I'm in.
the middle of 1970, bolting up the charts. It was like 18 or something and then
Kent State happened. We went down to Los Angeles and we recorded [Ohio], mixed
it, recorded Find the Cost of Freedom for the b-side and we said we want it out
"Well, you can't do that - you've got a hit moving up-" We want it out
right fucking now! We put that out in 12 days and the fucking cover for the 45
was a picture of the Constitution with 4 bullet holes in it. We killed our own
single. You don't do that - you're not supposed to do that.
We didn't give a shit. We thought the slaughter of these 4 kids, which the
government still hasn't apologized for, was more important. And that's what I'm
saying, that that simple understanding doesn't seem to be part of contemporary
culture anymore, particularly when it comes to the arts community and the
musicians who have historically been so effective in communicating that
But they are there.
What about the Beastie Boys? What about their Tibetan campaign?
How about Green Day?
Well, all right - Green Day is a good example.
Let me tell you something - I have never met them, right? And as I was
leaving the after party [for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony]
at the Bull and Bear, in this hotel, I see Billy Joe as I'm headed up the stairs
and I don't stop, you know, I just wave respectfully, and he parts the people
around him and comes up and he hugs me for 2 minutes, babbling about what a
great songwriter I am and how he wanted to be like me and write melodies that
are in people's hearts all the time and I said, "Wait a second - you have to
understand, I am really proud of you." Wait a minute, why's that? "Because
you're doing what we did - you're standing up there and fucking telling it like
it is! American Idiot was brilliant!" It kind of shocked him a little bit.
But there is this chain of musicians who really do give a shit. They are
there, maybe few and far between, but they are there. Tom Morello from Rage
Against the Machine is a fucking brilliant man. And we're trying to influence
those people - me, people like James Taylor, we're all trying to influence those
musicians who are coming up and following us because we're dropping off the
other end of this diving board, we can't help it. It's called old age and
eventually death. But we want to encourage people to stand up and to give a shit
and to have courage.