Neil Young's latest album, Storytone, contains a song titled "Who's Gonna Stand Up." "Who's gonna take on the big machine?" Young wonders. "Who's gonna stand up and save the earth?" For some musicians, political songs may be more about posturing than actual commitment. But not Young.
In a letter recently posted to his website, Young declares his intention to boycott Starbucks and asks for support from fans.
The letter focuses on the connection between Starbucks and the company Monsanto, who filed a suit against the state of Vermont.
"Starbucks is supporting a lawsuit that's aiming to block a landmark law that requires genetically-modified ingredients be labeled," writes Young. "Amazingly, [Starbucks] claims that the law is an assault on corporations' right to free speech. Monsanto might not care what we think -- but as a public-facing company, Starbucks does. If we can generate enough attention, we can push Starbucks to withdraw its support for the lawsuit, and then pressure other companies to do the same."
Young's tone is reasoned and thoughtful. He notes that he's a longtime Starbucks latte drinker, and that he has been impressed with the company's progressive stances "on LGBT and labor issues in the past." His letter also considers the long-run implications of this lawsuit. "There's much more at stake here than just whether GMO foods will be labeled in a single U.S. state. Vermont is the very first state in the U.S. to require labeling. Dozens of other states have said that they will follow this path -- in order to encourage this, we need to ensure that Vermont's law stands strong."
So does this mean Neil Young will be forced to switch to Dunkin' Donuts?