Neil Young’s next record, The Monsanto Years, is a concept album of sorts about how various evil corporations are killing us/controlling our lives/preparing to kill us by controlling our lives. It includes songs like “A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop” (about Young’s claim that Starbucks refuses to disclose which of its ingredients are GMOs), “Big Box” (about how much giant retail chains suck), and the title track, “Monsanto Years” (which is about how a certain agricultural company is slowly taking control of all the food we eat). Ever invested in giving companies burned by Neil Young lyrics a chance to defend themselves, Billboard reached out to Chevron, Walmart, Starbucks, and—of course—Monsanto to get their side of the story.
Chevron is the only one that refused to respond, giving Billboard nothing but a terse “we are not going to participate in the interview.” Starbucks offered only slightly more, saying that it hasn’t officially taken a position on labeling GMOs, and that, “As a company with stores and a product presence in every state, we prefer a national solution.”
Walmart, on the other hand, saw a good change to promote just how good it really is, telling Billboard, “As you might have seen recently, Walmart raised its lowest starting wage to $9 an hour. We’re proud of the opportunity we provide people to build a career and have a chance at a better life.” Damn right! Walmart is practically making a new generation of millionaires with that $9 an hour. Monsanto itself, though, didn’t want to directly comment on Young’s claims. Instead, it just wants him to know that he hurt its feelings:
Many of us at Monsanto have been and are fans of Neil Young. Unfortunately, for some of us, his current album may fail to reflect our strong beliefs in what we do every day to help make agriculture more sustainable. We recognize there is a lot of misinformation about who we are and what we do—and unfortunately several of those myths seem to be captured in these lyrics.
We hope you’re proud, Neil Young. You made Monsanto cry. Just for that, we’re all going to get punished with another 1,000 years toiling away in the underground wheat mines.