Neil Young’s Battle with Polio May Have Colored His Stand Against COVID Misinformation

At the age of five, Young contracted polio and was hospitalized

neil young spotify battle joe rogan covid-19 disinformation polio child
Neil Young, photo by Ryan Peterman

    Neil Young has taken a stand against Spotify and Joe Rogan over COVID-19 falsehoods, following through on his ultimatum to leave the streaming giant if it continued to platform The Joe Rogan Experience. This will come as no surprise to longtime fans; Young has long been a proponent of vaccination, going back to his battle with polio when he was about five years old.

    According to his 2012 memoir Waging Heavy Peace, the “Harvest Moon” singer was diagnosed with polio in 1951 and spent time in Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital as he battled the life-threatening disease. He ultimately recovered, though the disease left him with a slight limp.

    The polio vaccine was first widely disseminated in 1955, and Young was one of the beneficiaries. As he recently wrote on his website, “I was vaccinated for POLIO at my school in Canada. Nothing new about vaccines. They have been there for a long time. Like me! Trust Science.”


    Young also delivered a new statement on Friday after his music had been scrubbed from the streaming platform. “When I left Spotify, I felt better,” he wrote. “Amazon, Apple Music and Qobuz deliver up to 100% of the music today and it sounds a lot better than the shitty degraded and neutered sound of Spotify. If you support Spotify, you are destroying an art form. Business over art. Spotify plays artist’s music at 5% of its quality and charges you like it was the real thing.”

    The singer went on to urge readers to switch to one of Spotify’s competitors, and ended the note by speaking out in defense of free speech, writing, “I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information. I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the front line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others. As an unexpected bonus, I sound better everywhere else.”

    While the artist’s music may no longer be available on Spotify, his entire back catalog can still be streamed via Apple Music, Amazon Music, and elsewhere.