Neil Young’s penchant for writing socially conscious lyrics is well-demonstrated and his latest album Fork In The Road continues such talent – here documenting his concerns for social and ecological issues. Young wrote the album while working on the Lincvolt Project with biodiesel pioneer Johnathan Goodwin, where they transformed Young’s 1959 Lincoln Continental to run solely on alternative energy.
“Fuel Line” is directly inspired by the Lincvolt Project. Young sings that “Her engine’s running and the fuel is clean/ She only uses it ’cause she’s a machine,” and that his car is smart because of “The awesome power of electricity/ Stored for you in a giant battery.” Even though this song and many others on the album may be a little too literal, they do get the point across. Keeping the theme constant, Young wrote a song about his Lincvolt partner, Goodwin. “Johnny Magic” talks about the creation of the vehicle in Wichita. Now, after the car’s completion, “she goes long range on domestic green fuel/ 100 miles per gallon is the Continental Rule.”
While Young’s 2006 release, Living With War, had the recurring political theme pointing fingers at former President Bush for the war in Iraq, the songs had an emotional value that isn’t found on Fork In The Road. The topic of war is heavier subject matter than that of a Lincoln Continental, but the lack of emotion on Fork makes the album preachy.
On the third track, “Just Singin’ A Song,” Young explains that simply talking about an issue isn’t putting forth enough effort. People need to become involved and actually do things to start making change. Not everyone has the means to change their car to run on biodiesel or electricity, but people do have the means to consider purchasing a hybrid vehicle when shopping for a new car. Young took charge and transformed his car because “just singing a song won’t change the world.”