Caught the cover of Old Man by Beck in a NFL commercial last weekend? So did Neil Young, who’s apparently not the happiest about it.
On Sunday (September 25), Beck’s newly commissioned cover of Young’s 1972 song was used as the soundtrack in an NBC advert during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Kansas City Chiefs NFL game.
While the rocker did not explicitly comment on the track’s usage, he shared a picture onto his Instagram account that seemed to say it all.
The picture in question is a still from Young’s 1988 music video for This Note’s for You, an anti-sponsorship anthem reflective of the singer’s famous anti-corporate stance. In it, Young holds up a bottle with the label “SPONSORED BY NOBODY” plastered front and centre.
Featuring lyrics like “Ain’t singin’ for Pepsi / Ain’t singin’ for Coke / I don’t sing for nobody / Makes me look like a joke,” the music video pokes fun at the commercialism of rock ‘n’ roll with impersonators of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.
How did a song by the poster boy for anti-corporatism end up in an NFL ad then? Well, in 2021, Young sold half of his entire song catalogue to British investment firm Hipgnosis Songs Fund, which might have cost him the right to decide whether or not his music is licensed for commercials going forward.
While the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed at the time, Hipgnosis co-founder Merck Mercuriadis assured that Young’s integrity would remain intact.
“There will never be a ‘Burger Of Gold’ but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear [Young’s songs] on Neil’s terms,” he said in a statement, adding that the Heart Of Gold hitmaker and Hipgnosis share a “common integrity, ethos and passion”.
Based on Young’s latest Instagram post though, things probably took a turn somewhere down the line.
Check out the cover below.