Neil Young has inspired generations of musicians musically, now he's hoping he can do the same environmentally. While promoting his latest album, the ecology-minded Greendale, and new film of the same name, the veteran rocker is filling his tour buses with Biodiesel, a cleaner burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources such as soybean oil and recycled cooking oil.
Young is using B20, twenty percent Biodiesel mixed with eighty-percent diesel, which is the most common blend, to power the fifteen diesel trucks and buses it takes to carry the tour from city to city.
"I think it is incumbent upon me to do everything that I can to try to live up to Sun Green's version of what the world should be like," Young says, referencing one of his album's characters, "and the kind of changes people should make. Biodiesel has seventy-five to eighty percent less pollution than normal diesel. We're just trying to make a statement: 'Hey, this is something you can do right now. I could be driving around in my SUV or Hummer burning vegetable oil.'"
Young joins a list of rockers trying to raise awareness of the alternative fuel, including Bonnie Raitt, the Indigo Girls, Jonathan Richman and Jane's Addiction. At last year's Lollapalooza, Jane's used the fuel to power the tour's generators.
Joe Jobe, executive director of the National Biodiesel Board, says that having someone with Young's environmental track record use the fuel is a boon for the organization. "Neil has been a leader on a number of issues, and if he believes in something he will become a hardcore advocate," Jobe says. "He's proven time and time again that he is successful at it."
In addition to the environmental advantages, Young believes the alternative fuel offers a solution for the plight of the American farmers, a cause he's been actively involved in for a number of years with the Farm Aid concerts. "You're out there putting American farmers to work with a renewable fuel and taking away our dependence on foreign oil and our need to go through all these wars and tap dances we do over economics in the Middle East," he says. "Why should we do that when you have everything we need right here and we can put our own people to work?"
Greendale theatrical openings:
2/27: Los Angeles; Irvine, CA; Austin
3/5: St. Louis, MO; Denver (tentative)
3/12: San Francisco, Berkeley, CA; Milwaukee (tentative)
3/19: New York, Washington, DC; Baltimore; Pleasantville, NY; Cleveland; Atlanta; Montclair, NJ
3/26: Boston; Amherst, MA
4/2: Portland, OR; Providence, RI; Great Barrington, MA
4/9: Cincinnati (tentative); Gainesville, FL
4/16: Chapel Hill, NC; Eugene, OR
Neil Young tour dates:
2/28: Albuquerque, NM, Tingley Coliseum
2/29: Colorado Springs, CO, World Arena
3/2: Milwaukee, WI, Milwaukee Theater
3/4-5: Rosemont, IL, Rosemont Theater
3/7: Moline, IL, Mark of the Quad Cities
3/9: Detroit, Fox Theater
3/11: Cleveland, CSU Convocation Center
3/12: Hershey, PA, Giant Center
3/14: Camden, NJ, Tweeter Center
3/15: Wallingford, CT, Oakdale Theater
3/17-18: New York, Lincoln Center
3/21 Amherst, MA, Mullins Center