Friday, October 12, 2012

'Shakey' and 'Neil Young Nation'!

Oh so many Neil Young biographies.. which one to choose?? Every time I look there is a new book with his face on it and it seems most differ in their facts at least a little. I guess no two people will get all the facts straight. Regardless I get a pretty good idea behind Neil’s life and career as I read the majority of them.


Finally the book I have always been hoping for has arrived! Neil finally released an autobiography and I cannot wait to get my hands on it! It’s called “Waging Heavy Peace”. I have never anticipated a music autobiography more.


All I have to do is clear my nightstand of the half dozen other books I already have lined up to read. But then I’m on my way inside Neil’s head!

I finished reading Neil’s biography “Shakey” a few weeks back. I am never one to usually pick up a biography rather than an autobiography but there are always exceptions. I actually purchased this book a few years ago when there was no Neil Young autobiography in sight.


Neil Young albums would definitely be on my desert island list (however don’t ask me to pick one.. that’s a tough one!). About three times a years I always end up in a Neil Young kick that lasts for weeks. Usually I change up my music throughout the day and week but ever so often it’s all Neil.


The reason it’s been two years since I bought this and have only now gotten to reading it is because I found it such a rough book to get into. I tried when I first bought it but could not stay interested. A year or so later I tried again and failed again. Finally I managed to struggle through the beginning and make it into the core of the book.

Once I got into Neil’s career it was a bit easier to follow. However the author “Jimmy McDonough” just couldn’t get my undivided attention. It seemed like every long chapter always had a few pages worth of just boring writing. I don’t know how to really put my finger on why it was boring but to me it was. Just rambling about things that don’t really matter or that could have been summed up in a sentence rather than a paragraph. I just don’t think I have the attention span to get so deep into details. That’s why I’m reading music related books rather than history. However, these slow boring parts I’m talking about may actually be the best part of the book to others.


Regardless of this Jimmy McDonough sure did his research and came out with a great biography on Neil. He spent years of his life researching him and it paid off. The facts seem to be consistent with anything else I read and the details and interviews he did were very detailed and thorough.


Once I got through “Shakey” I read for the second time another book in my collection. It’s called “Neil Young Nation” written by “Kevin Chong”.

Now this is not your typical Neil Young book. It is not a biography and does not try to pass as a biography. This is Kevin’s book about being a Neil Young fan.

Kevin and his buddies go on a journey retracing the path that Neil Young made in his hearse back in the 60’s on his way to California where he finally formed a band with Stephen Stills.

Sure it touches on parts of Neil’s life and relates to the events Neil encountered when they showed up at the various locations on their trip. But these Neil stories are vague and far between.


This book is for the true Neil Young fan only. It takes into account that you have some Neil knowledge and you understand what being a Neil fan is all about.


Kevin meets many member of Neil Young fans online community called “Rusties”. He interviews these fans about being a Neil Young fan, not about Neil Young.

He ended the book and trip by seeing Neil Young at Farm Aid. He stood 15 feet away from Neil Young at a press conference but he never met him. He never wanted to. It was irrelevant to this book. This book was about being a Neil fan, not about Neil (did I mention that already?).


It seems that he never wanted to meet Neil as he does not want to mess with the illusion he has of him.


I can strongly relate to this. I have almost always regretted any time I have met a musician I am a fan of. Either they couldn’t be bothered with you, they just give you some fake “Hi how are you” or are just plain rude. Sure there are exceptions but a lot of the time this is how it is.


And I can’t blame them. Why do they want to talk to me? They don’t know me and I don’t know them. Just because I read a book doesn’t mean I need to meet the author.

I swear if Neil Young, Pete Townshend and Paul McCartney were sitting at the other end of the restaurant I was in, I would not try to say hello. Years ago I would have, but not now. I don’t need to intrude on their lives and I don’t need to meet them to enjoy their music.

I was a huge “Big Sugar” fan when I was younger. I met Gordie Johnson after one of his shows and he couldn’t be bothered to even say hello. He acted like a real asshole actually. Because of this I have never listened to a “Big Sugar” album since and I was a HUGE fan.


I don’t really blame him for not wanting to talk to me. I’m sure it was nothing personal, he had a lineup of people trying to say hello. But it ruined my illusion of the cool person I though Gordie Johnson was. Situations like this prevent me from wanting to meet any of my favorite musicians.


Whew.. I got off track!


Anyways! “Neil Young Nation” was a great read however I don’t think many people would enjoy it unless they are a big Neil Young fan with some knowledge of his career.

Me being a big Neil fan with some knowledge of his career….. I loved it!

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