Neil Young Gives Surprise Performance During Logging Protest

Billed as a “special guest,” Neil Young surprised the crowd at an old-growth logging protest in British Columbia to show his support and perform two of his classic songs.

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Stepping out with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, for his first time on stage since 2019, Young performed two songs. The first was the 1978 title track of his ninth album, “Comes a Time,” which references trees in its chorus — Oh, this old world keeps spinnin’ ’round // It’s a wonder, tall trees ain’t layin’ down / There comes a time.

After “Comes a Time,” Young went into his 1972 Harvest classic, “Heart of Gold,” while protesters, many dressed as trees and wild animals to represent the nature being impacted by logging, cheered and sang along.

“Thank you Canada,” said Young to the crowd. “You know I’m only here for those trees up there. And it’s a beautiful, and it’s a precious, sacred thing, these old trees because they show us the power of nature when we are being threatened. They show us the past, and they show us our future.”

Young added, “That’s something I hope our Canadian government and business section will recognize, that this has to do with Canada. It has to do with the ages, if we are lucky enough to have ages. These trees have lasted so long they deserve Canada’s respect.”

Before his performance, Young was introduced by his wife, actress Daryl Hannah. “Despite the complexities, the necessary and simple answer is do no harm,” said Hannah. “No further destruction. Love, support, and respect your elders.” Hannah added, “Please lend your support to another type of elder, your fellow Canadian from a small town in Ontario.”

The government of B.C. recently introduced new approaches to help manage timber resources and protect old-growth trees from logging.

Under the Forest Act, old-growth deferral areas were established to protect 2.6 million hectares, or more than 6.4 million acres, of the most at-risk old-growth forests and ecosystems within British Columbia. These areas will be deferred from logging until a later date or not logged at all.

There are nearly 11.1 million hectares (27.4 million acres) of old-growth forest in B.C. A majority of the coastal forests are considered to be old-growth if they contain trees that are more than 250 years old. 

Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns

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