Less than a month after Farm Aid 2021 was announced, one of the founders of the fundraiser, Neil Young, has withdrawn from the concert over concerns about COVID-19. In a statement on the Neil Young Archives, the venerable songwriter wrote, “My soul tells me it would be wrong.”
Young is a Farm Aid board member alongside Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews, all of whom are expected to perform. “While I respect Willie, John and Dave’s decisions to stick with it and play, I am not of the same mind,” Young wrote. “It is a tough call.”
As he explained his thinking, “I find myself wondering whether Farmaid will be safe for everyone with the Covid pandemic surging. I worry about that. I don’t want to let anybody down, but still can’t shake the feeling that it might not be safe for everyone. I worry about audiences coming together in these times. The show is sold out.”
Young expressed solidarity with the immunocompromised and those merely cautious. “All you people who can’t go to a concert because you still don’t feel safe, I stand with you,” he said. “I don’t want you to see me playing and think it’s safe now. I don’t want to play until you feel safe, and it is indeed, safe.
“My soul tells me it would be wrong to risk having anyone die because they wanted to hear music and be with friends.”
Young joins a growing list of artists pulling out of performances due to the pandemic’s summer surge. Earlier today Garth Brooks cancelled the rest of his 2021 tour dates, last week Limp Bizkit did the same, and acts who’ve missed stops due to positive COVID-19 tests include Fall Out Boy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, and Korn.