US Secretary of State Blinken performs ‘Rockin in the Free World’ on guitar in Kyiv bar

America’s top diplomat covers Neil Young anthem during visit to Ukrainian capital

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Wednesday 15 May 2024 05:49 BST
Blinken sings 'Keep on rocking in the free world' at Kyiv night club

In a bar in Kyiv, America’s top diplomat used a guitar to deliver a message for Ukraine and the world with a performance of a classic tune by Canadian-American singer Neil Young.

Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to the war-torn Ukrainian capital this week as a show of continued support for the US ally amid intensified Russian missile attacks. On Tuesday, he took to the stage at a basement watering hole called Barman Dictat to perform with a band called 19.99.

The song? Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World”.

Before taking the stage, Mr Blinken told the crowd at the bar that he recognized Ukrainian forces and citizens were still suffering and pledged support from the US and the rest of the world.

“Your soldiers, your citizens — particularly in the northeast, in Kharkiv — are suffering tremendously. But they need to know — you need to know — the United States is with you, so much of the world is with you and they’re fighting not just for a free Ukraine, but for the free world. And the free world is with you, too,” he said.

Following the performance, the band’s lead singer, Dmitry Temnyi, told Reuters he’d been impressed by the Secretary of State’s axe-handling skills.

“He played well,” Mr Temnyi said.

The US diplomat is well-known around the American capital as an amateur musician who isn’t shy about performing in public when the mood takes him. Mr Blinken’s guitar habit drew some attention late last year when video emerged of him with a band at State Department headquarters, where he covered a Muddy Waters tune at the launch of the US Global Music Diplomacy Initiative.

He has also released his own music on Spotify under the name “ABlinken”.

In 2021, he told Rolling Stone he owns “six or seven” guitars and recalled experiences playing with several rock luminaries, including singer-songwriter Aimee Mann and the late Husker Du drummer/singer Grant Hart.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in