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“Sponsored by Nobody”: Neil Young Responds to Beck Cover Being Used in NFL Commercial

Young apparently doesn't approve of Beck's cover of "Old Man" appearing in a spot for NBC's Sunday Night Football

neil young beck old man nfl commercial
Beck (photo by Philip Cosores) and Neil Young (photo by Debi Del Grande)

    The famously anti-corporate Neil Young once sang, “I don’t sing for nobody” in 1988’s “This Note’s for You,” so it makes sense that he wouldn’t be happy about Beck’s cover of his 1972 song “Old Man” being used in a commercial for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

    In an Instagram post, Young shared an old black and white photo of him holding up a beer bottle with “sponsored by nobody” written on it. Letting the image speak for itself, he didn’t bother writing a caption to accompany it.

    The post is a callback to his “This Note’s for You” video, which ended with him holding up a beer can with that same message. In addition to parodying Budweiser’s “This Bud’s for You” campaign, the clip also poked fun at corporate music commercials with impersonators of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. After initially being banned by MTV for legal reasons, it actually ended up winning Video of the Year in 1989.

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    Fast forward to this past weekend, when Beck’s cover of “Old Man” appeared in a somewhat corny commercial for next week’s matchup between Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs. Centering around the lyrics “Old man, look at my life/ 24, and there’s so much more,” the song was used to soundtrack highlights of both quarterbacks’ careers.

    It’s worth noting that Young may not have any say in the cover being used in the ad. Back in January 2021, he signed away 50% of the rights to his entire song catalog to the British investment company Hipgnosis Songs Fund.

    In a statement, Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis said, “There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’ but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear them on Neil’s terms.” “Burger of Gold” is a reference to a 1973 concert in which Young revealed that an unnamed company asked to use his song “Heart of Gold” in a commercial and he joked he would have to rename it to “Burger of Gold” if he agreed.

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    See Neil Young’s Instagram post and the commercial containing Beck’s “Old Man” cover below.

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