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173 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NEIL YOUNG BEING NEIL YOUNG-GOING ANYWHERE HE WANTS TO GO, September 25, 2012
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This review is from: Waging Heavy Peace (Hardcover)
"Writing this book, there seems to be no end to the information flowing through me."
"The past is such a big place." Neil Young.

Here it is in a nutshell. If you're a Neil Young fan, and want to read a book written in a conversational style, and want to know more about Young-straight from the well-buy this book. It's 497 pages of Young talking about just about everything he sees fit to talk about.

There's no Contents page, no Introduction, the Preface is two sentences in length, there's a Dedication Page (to his son Ben, "my warrior", and Young's family), and there's no Index. There's a black and white photo at the head of most chapters and a few others here and there (including a spaghetti recipe belonging to Young's father), but no separate section of photos. There's 68 chapters, most of them a few pages in length. The end papers have a photograph of a guitar that's been graphically altered four different ways. All in all, this is a simply produced looking book that fits Young the man/musician, and his writing style. His story is laid out simply, almost in a matter of fact style-like you hoped it would be written. Along the way there are many side roads that add depth and interest to Young's story.

Beginning at his ranch in 2011, with Young talking about his model train collection, and sharing it with his quadriplegic son, Ben, the story shifts to David Crosby and Graham Nash coming over to make some music shortly after Crosby got straight-"...still prone to taking naps between takes." Then it shifts to Young's love of old cars and anything dealing with transportation. His cars sit in a garage, where Young sits and thinks about his record company, and how he wants to improve the sound we hear on recordings. And that's just the first few pages.

From that point Young writes about a collection of Crazy Horse recordings that he's been working on ("The Early Daze"), that will tell the band's story. He also relates that he has recently quit drinking and smoking weed for his health. It's interesting to read that Young liked writing this book because it kept him (gladly) off the performing stage-he says he needs to "replenish". This isn't Young's life laid out chronologically-he goes back and forth depending on what's on his mind as he writes.

The entire book is like that. It flows along from one era, one set of circumstances, the people he comes into contact with along the way, what happened and what he thinks of it all. In some ways this is similar to Dylan's "Chronicles"-yet obviously different in many ways. It's a book you'd expect from Neil Young. For an inside look at the various stages of Young's life and career (growing up in Ontario, The Squires, The Mynah Birds, Buffalo Springfield, CSN&Y, Crazy Horse), the people (his father, his wives/children, Danny Whitten, Elliott Roberts for example), the music ("Thinking is the worst thing for writing a song."), his medical challenges ("They make me who I am. I am thankful for them. They scare me."), including walking ("Maybe I should call this book 'The Shoe Chronicles'."), and a lot of other major and minor happenings along the way, sometimes bordering on minutiae, the book is always interesting.

And in the end, after reading this book-it really is the story of Neil Young. This is Neil Young being Neil Young.

With all the books of late (Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Pete Townshend, et al), by living legends, you might also want to check out "The John Lennon Letters", edited by the well known Hunter Davies (whose writing on The Beatles was largely disowned by the band). It's 386 pages of Lennon's writings from throughout his life and career,divided into 23 parts, "Part one-Early Years, 1951-58", "Part three-Beatlemania Begins, 1963", "Part five-family and Friends, 1965-66", "Part twenty-Letters to Derek Taylor, 1973-78", and so on. The book is stuffed with good reproductions of hand/type-written notes/letters/postcards/telegrams/etc.-with the oftentimes hard to read pieces printed in full next to each for legibility- along with many drawings by Lennon, and a number of photographs throughout. Also included is a very brief biography (11 pages) on Lennon's life. Davies occasionally adds short texts to help put things in correct context. One minor drawback (if you like keeping your books nice looking), is the stark white cover, printed on a fairly rough paper stock that attracts dirt and smudges like a magnet. But combined with the minimal graphics-it is cool looking. I immediately covered my copy in a clear plastic bookcover. Hardcore fans of Lennon (especially) will no doubt find some interesting pieces in this nicely presented book. Others will see this as another attempt to drain more $ from the Lennon name. To each his own.
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 25, 2012 8:04:50 AM PDT
Outstanding review. I enjoy and appreciate your work. Very much looking forward to receiving my copy from Amazon.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2012 8:13:38 AM PDT
Richard-thanks for the very kind words. Enjoy the book! Cheers.

Posted on Sep 25, 2012 8:32:13 AM PDT
J. J Spina says:
What an absolutely outstanding review. Cannot thank you enough. Read and absorbed your every word.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2012 10:14:52 AM PDT
J.J.-you're welcome. The book is worth reading for both style and content.

Posted on Sep 26, 2012 3:35:24 AM PDT
Agree with Richard....I've been an avid Neil fan since I first heard Comes A Time when I was about 14...been hooked on the man and his music ever since...can't wait for my copy of the book to find it's way all the way to here in Western Australia. Just hope he tours Australia again sometime soon.


In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2012 8:08:37 AM PDT
Shane-thanks, long time fans like you will find some interesting stories in the book that will add to your enjoyment of Young's music. Hope the wait won't be long. Cheers.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 10:00:47 AM PDT
JoniJ says:
I don't think I've ever posted about a review before but yours was outstanding. Everything I wanted to know about the book. Was going to Kindle but your review made me decide I have to have the book. Love Neil Young & he's always been somewhat mysterious and introverted. Excited to get an idea of what made Neil, well Neil. Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 10:43:25 AM PDT
Joan-a very nice thing to say about my review. I hope you enjoy the book. I'm a bit of a troglodyte-I prefer the feel of an actual physical book-but I can see some advantages to Kindle. Whichever way people (and you) read this book-it's pretty cool. Cheers.

Posted on Oct 1, 2012 12:48:32 PM PDT
Greetings Stuart; I received this book last Friday afternoon and finished it Saturday afternoon, only stopping when I had to do so. I had planned on writing a review of it myself, but after reading yours, I realized that you had already written much of what I had mentally formulated to write, and didn't feel I could improve upon it. Excellent review and spot on.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 2, 2012 9:58:24 PM PDT
Dennis-thanks for the kind words. I know what you mean about deciding not to review something. That same thing has happened to me in the past and no doubt will happen in the future.
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