Neil Young Addresses Why He Isn’t Playing Farm Aid: ‘Don’t Think It Is Very Safe’

by Tia Bailey

Farm Aid, an annual music festival held for American farmers, is set to take place this fall. Musician Neil Young will not be in attendance, despite being on the lineup.

The festival, which was first organized by Young, Willie Nelson, and John Mellencamp, gives back to farmers. This year’s focus of the festival is on climate-resilent agriculture. Performers on this year’s lineup include Chris Stapleton, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, Allison Russell, and more.

Young, a singer-songwriter and filmmaker, has been outspoken about being uncomfortable with performing live due to the pandemic. Young’s name appeared on the Farm Aid lineup, but he confirmed himself that he will not be performing this year.

Young responded to a 21-year-old fan who left a query on his archives website. The query said: “Hi Neil. I’m not sure if this will reach you directly, but if it does, hi! My name is Tyler and I’m 21 years old. For the last three or so years I started listening to your music and exploring your library of records. I just wanted to tell you how much of an inspiration you are to me.

I grew up in the Bay Area in South San Francisco, later moving to Belmont. I never realized you also lived in the Bay Area until last year. Your message you give about music quality and the environment are so wonderful and mean a lot to me. Sound quality is so important, and for years now I’ve been adding on to my record and CD collection, a large majority of it being your work. Anyways, I appreciate all you do, and ik always looking forward to your new music. I heard you are playing at Farm Aid this year, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to go!”

Neil Young Not Playing Farm Aid this Year Due to Covid

Young responded to the fan, saying: “Thanks Tyler. Much appreciated. 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. I miss it very much. love be well neil.”

Young withdrew from Farm Aid in 2021 for the same reason, and has been open about his caution during the pandemic. He shared his thoughts on his archives site last year as well, addressing those who are immunocompromised. “All you people who can’t go to the concert because you still don’t feel safe, I stand with you. I don’t want you to see me playing and think it’s safe now. I don’t want to play until you feel safe, and it is indeed, safe,” he wrote.

Young also shared he will not be performing any concerts this year for the same reason, and he previously called the events “super-spreaders.”