Neil Young Seemingly Responds to Cover of His Song Being Used in NFL Commercial

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)

If you’re an NFL fan, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen the latest Sunday Night Football ad. The ad is hyping up the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs and focuses on the teams’ quarterbacks – Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. The short clip features Beck singing a stripped-down rendition of Neil Young’s “Old Man.”

Many assumed that having a cover of the 1972 classic in a commercial wouldn’t sit right with Neil Young. He has been open about his disdain for the commercialization of rock music in general. More importantly, Young always shot down offers to use his music in advertising.

In recent years, Neil Young has been very outspoken about the use of his music. For instance, he pulled his catalog from Spotify because he didn’t agree with the misinformation that Joe Rogan’s guests were spreading on his podcast. So, many fans have been waiting to see what Young would say about Beck’s cover of “Old Man” being used in the NFL ad.

Neil Young (Maybe) Responds to “Old Man” NFL Ad

Yesterday, Neil Young’s official Instagram account posted a still from the “This Note’s for You” music video. In the image, we see Young holding a bottle with a plain label that says “Sponsored by Nobody” in bold, black letters. The song is a straightforward criticism of the commercialization of rock music and musicians who appeared in TV ads.

Neil Young posted the above image without comment. However, the lyrics of the song drive the point home better than any social media post could. Lines like “Ain’t singin’ for Pepsi / Ain’t singin’ for Coke / I don’t sing for nobody / Makes me look like a joke / This note’s for you,” say plenty. If the lyrics don’t get the point across the video will. It’s a parody of late-80s Michelob ads featuring musicians as well as Michael Jackson’s Pepsi commercial. You can check it out below.

While he didn’t come out and say anything, the post makes it seem as if Neil Young isn’t happy about this turn of events. However, according to Stereogum, Neil Young sold half of his catalog to the Hipgnosis Songs Fund. The British investment company has been paying artists huge sums of money for their discographies in recent years. Hipgnosis founder Merk Mercuriadis said that his company would work with the rocker to make sure that everyone gets to hear Young’s music “on Neil’s terms.”

Young and the firm didn’t share the specifics of their deal. It is possible that the agreement allows Hipgnosis to license covers for commercial use. Because they own the music, they’re not required to get Neil Young’s permission before licensing those songs.