Neil Young hasn’t changed his mind about concerts in the era of COVID-19, answering a fan letter on his Neil Young Archives to say that he will not be playing live shows any time soon because “I don’t think it is safe in the pandemic.”
Probably the first and last time that most Americans agreed about the novel coronavirus was March of 2020 during the initial wave of lockdowns. In 2021, as vaccines became widely available and the world began to open up, Young continued to sound the alarm about the dangers posed by breakthrough infections and long COVID. He withdrew from Farm Aid and criticized concerts as “super-spreader events,” saying he wouldn’t tour again until we “beat” COVID-19, which might be never, considering that most public health officials expect the virus to become endemic, much like how variants of the 1918 Spanish Flu continue to circulate today.
Young briefly addressed these concerns in a letter to 21-year-old Tyler, who hoped to see old Shakey at Farm Aid 2022. “Thanks Tyler. Much appreciated,” Young wrote. “I will not be at Farmaid this year. I am not ready for that yet. I don’t think it is safe in the pandemic.”
He added, “I miss it very much.”
Farm-Aid, which Young usually helps organize alongside Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews, is set for September 24th. The full lineup is expected in the coming weeks.
In lieu of touring, Young has been leading a fight against vaccine misinformation at Spotify, prompting a mass exodus of artists from the catalog. He’s also been curating his own discography, recently releasing the shelved 2001 album, Toast, and next month his band Promise of the Real will release a live album called Noise & Flowers, which was recorded during a 2019 European tour.