Neil Young is rock's great floating voter. As befits a man nicknamed Shakey, his political vacillations are legendary. In the early 1970s, he savaged Nixon on Ohio and Ambulance Blues, then decided he felt sorry for the disgraced president and, two years later, wrote Campaigner to prove it. This turned out to be merely an amuse bouche for the main course of the 1980s, when Young unexpectedly metamorphosed into Norman Tebbit.
In a move that deliberately echoes the rush release of "Ohio" in the wake of the Kent State shootings, Neil Young bashed out his 2006 protest record Living with War in a matter of days, sometimes recording songs the day they were written, and then seized the opportunities of the digital age by streaming the entire album on his website only weeks after it was recorded, with the official digital and CD releases trailing several days later. It's the best use yet of the instant, widespread distribution that the Web has to offer, and it also hearkens back to the days when folk music was topical, turning the news into song. But if the ballads of the 19th century were passed along gradually, growing along the way, or if the protest tunes of the folk revival of the 1950s and '60s grew in stature being performed regularly, gaining strength as singer after singer sang them, Living with War captures a specific moment in time: early 2006, when George W.