Neil Young kicks into high gear
Although he’s currently touring North America behind his Chrome Dreams II album, and performing a tightly packed set of hits from his entire catalogue, Neil Young continues to sift through his storied unreleased material.
And while the long awaited Archives Vol. 1 box set is set for release early in 2009, Young recently released Sugar Mountain — Live At Canterbury House 1968, a record containing some of the gems he would issue on his debut solo effort.
Oh and then there’s Toast, a Crazy Horse album Young completed but ditched in 2000. “It’s a mind-blowing record, very moody, kind of jazzy,” Young told Rolling Stone last month. “The whole thing has got a massive sound.”
Added to that, Young announced he’d be playing as a sideman — along with roots rock group Drive-By Truckers — to Booker T. Jones, front man for the legendary Booker T. and The MGs. That album is also set for a 2009 release.
But what seems to be piquing Young’s curiosity most these days could be dubbed Chrome Dreams III, namely insisting the big three car manufacturers in North America (Ford, Chrysler and General Motors) get their heads out of the proverbial sand and adapt to changing times.
In a lengthy piece released through his publicist on Nov. 13, Young, performing tonight and tomorrow at the Air Canada Centre, proposed a way to save a “major automobile company.”
“We need forward looking people who are not restricted by the existing culture in Detroit,” he wrote. “We can no long afford to continue down Detroit’s old road. The people have spoken. They do not want gas guzzlers (although they still like big cars and trucks).”
Believing the big three must reduce their output to a sedan, sports car, large family sedan, SUV and truck, Young said new vehicles called “transition rollers” could be built now with the large car manufacturers avoiding massive layoffs.
Young is so devoted to the idea that he’s created his own initiative, Linc Volt Technology, to begin refurbishing current cars to run on cleaner gas and other means of energy including electric engines.
The company, which includes experts from around the world, is also vying for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize with the winner getting a $10-million prize to create a vehicle getting 100 miles per gallon or better by 2009.
Images of Young on the Linc Volt website show the singer, 63, standing in the front of a 1959 Lincoln Continental minus the engine, a vehicle Young mentioned in an interview with David Letterman that would get “nine or ten miles to the gallon.”
A documentary on Young’s plan is currently in the works, but Young and his group currently have the automobile running up to 65 miles per gallon in early informal testing using an electric motor.
“It’s not something that everybody could do but it’s something that Ford or GM or Chrysler could do,” Young told Letterman earlier this year. “If I fail, who cares? Who expects me to succeed? So I’m not afraid of failure, I just want to eliminate roadside refueling.”
As long as the albums and tours keep rolling out of Young’s seemingly endless musical production line, fans probably won’t have much problem with eco-friendly and efficient vehicles rolling out of another.
Neil Young kicks into high gear