Neil Young shocked fans at the 300-capacity Johnny D’s in Somerville, Massachusetts, last night when he debuted a new song, apparently titled “Drive My Car,” while playing in his wife Pegi’s backing band. The band, the Survivors, features veterans of past Neil Young tours, including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame keyboardist Spooner Oldham and bassist Rick Rosas. The new song is very similar in tone and content to material on Fork in the Road, Young’s 2009 LP devoted almost entirely devoted to songs about his electric car project.
Pegi Young and the Survivors are on tour promoting their 2011 LP Bracing for Impact. They played some of the festivals that Neil Young and Crazy Horse were scheduled to play before guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro broke his hand. Neil has played with his wife at many gigs in the past, but this is the first time it’s happened this year.
Neil Young has spent the past few weeks driving cross-country in LincVolt, a 1959 Lincoln Continental that’s powered by electricity and cellulosic ethanol. Earlier this week, he spoke at a press conference in Washington D.C. with Sens. Harry Reid and Debbie Stabenow. “I am against the Keystone pipeline in a big way,” Young said in comments posted on his website. “The fact is, Fort McMurray [Alberta] looks like Hiroshima. Fort McMurray is a wasteland. The Indians up there and the native peoples are dying. People are sick. People are dying of cancer because of this. All of the First Nations peoples up there are threatened by this. Their food supply is wasted, their treaties are no good. They have the right to live on the land, like they always did, but there’s no land left that they can live on. All the animals are dying.”
The comments angered many in Canada. “When people say [Fort McMurray] is a wasteland, it really and truly isn’t,” Melissa Blake, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, an area that includes Fort McMurray, told The Globe and Mail. “When it comes to the community of Fort McMurray, you’re overwhelmed frankly by the beauty of it. You’ve got an incredible boreal environment that’s all around you. You proceed further north into the oil sands and inevitably, there’s mining operations that will draw your attention because they take up large chunks of land.”
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Young’s cross-continent journey is being chronicled on a Tumblr account called “The Passenger Chronicles.” The trip generated headlines when the car broke down in Truckee, California. In November of 2010, the car caused significantly more trouble when the engine exploded at Young’s warehouse in San Carlos, California, causing a three-alarm fire that severely damaged the vehicle and other items stored in the warehouse.
Now that the Crazy Horse tour is done, rumors are beginning to swirl that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young will reunite for a tour in 2014. The quartet is playing at the Bridge School Benefit at the end of October. It will mark their first public appearance since 2006.
“Neil called me a few weeks ago and asked if CSN would be willing to do a benefit concert with him for the Bridge School in October,” Graham Nash recently told the The Wall Street Journal. “Neil doesn’t like wasting words. When he asks about us playing together, he’s really saying: ‘Come on up here and let’s see how we sound. Maybe we can do something later.’ If it feels good when we play as a group, I’m sure it will be the four of us next year.”