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Young's Theme

Having been musically relevant since the mid ‘60s, Neil Young has sought to keep himself atop the ever shifting pile of dudes with guitars for almost fifty years at this point. And even if he’s a Canadian (Manitoba to be exact), he’s inserted himself into American politics, voicing a left leaning biased for almost as long as he’s been playing music.

Everything works in cycles and when Young began his career all those years back, it would have seemed that some sort of permanent and substantial change was taking place. It didn’t. Some aspects of the American life changed, but not enough to keep our political system and financial structure too far away from the ledge of failure. And because of this, Young has maintained a vociferous opposition to anything that the government foolishly turns to.

Young has long been an avid car aficionado, being associated with older makes and models considered American classics – which again is pretty funny, since he’s a Canadian. But with a new disc due out the second week of April, Fork in the Road directly addresses the energy crisis that the world is slated to face within the next half century of so. And as a part of the never ending nod to Americana, Young has fitted a 1959 Lincoln Continental with newly minted hybrid technologies and plans to take it on down the road to Washington DC. Of course this plan seems rooted in ‘60s idealism that states, change begins with you. And it does, but driving this car probably won’t have all too great an impact on the greater culture.

Lyrically, Fork in the Road focuses on solely this car and the problems that either stem from or can be solved by addressing the automotive industry in the country. Overtly topical could be an apt description of this work. After all, when we’re all flying around in some pseudo-Jetson’s car, it won’t make a difference how much of the earth’s supply of oil we desecrated. But Woody Guthrie talk a great deal about the Dust Bowl, Okies and the like and he’s considered an indispensible part of the American experience – as well he should.

In listening to Young’s latest full length, it’s startling how well his voice still comes off. And really, most fans would be hard pressed to distinguish between Young now and twenty five years past. His disheveled guitar solos sound the same as they ever did with Crazy Horse or even Crosby, Stills and Nash. So, really not too much has changed over the career of this musician. He’s still involved in a discussion of social and political ills. And while seeking to right them, Young has embarked on a sort of personal campaign to better himself as well as the place in which he lives. Not too many other performers can say that after such a long career in the game. Dylan’s slated to turn in a new disc shortly, and without question, there’ll be some political tinted work there. But probably it won’t be an environmentally themed concept disc.