I started reading this book I found a lot of interesting material here as I read about the life of Neil Young Unfortunately, despite the good material, this book just goes on and on and on, with the meanderings of an obvious fanboy who really needs the services of a good editor.The book would probably be really interesting at about half its length, but even though reading a biography implies that you re looking for information about the subject, this one really goes into the stage of TMI to the point of becoming tiring and not enjoyable. I really wanted to like this book, and for the first third of it, I really did The problem is McDonough is about my age, so by the early 70 s he s reviewing the music and putting his personal context on it, instead of putting in a biographical context only Eventually it starts to read like a book written by Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons Albums he likes, a qualified okay Albums he doesn t like hint anything to do with CSNY, or just S Worst Album Ever The best tracks from one period Unreleased and only available as a bootleg Homegrown The best tracks recorded with a pretty good album American Stars N Bars Never released, again except on bootleg.His first live album Live Rust A little surprising to hear after reading a couple of hundred pages about the dark period from 1972 to 1975 of Time Fades Away ahem, a live album , On the Beach and Tonight s the Night and the deaths of Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry The best music he did in 1992 On someone else s album Who cares that you bought Zuma just because of the cover He also holds back on the tough questions when Young s second son was born with severe CP he disappeared for almost two years to be a dad and raise a young child with serious health problems and told no one outside his immediate circle why An admirable decision for anyone, for someone in the music industry, really brave So when the first album after that period comes out is Trans, and you re surface to tour and promote it, it s a little odd to say Fuck you to people who don t get that some of the songs are a tribute to your son We re supposed to understand the connection to something you have gone out of your way to keep private Maybe you could have asked him about that Jimmy.All in all, some interesting insights into Young, but too much of a piece of work by a fanboy who starts to think his idol take his opinion as seriously as people he has worked with for 30 years. Neil Young Is One Of Rock And Roll S Most Important And Enigmatic Figures, A Legend From The Sixties Who Is Still Hugely Influential Today He Has Never Granted A Writer Access To His Inner Life Until Now Based On Six Years Of Interviews With Than Three Hundred Of Young S Associates, And On Than Fifty Hours Of Interviews With Young Himself, Shakey Is A Fascinating, Prodigious Account Of The Singer S Life And Career Jimmy McDonough Follows Young From His Childhood In Canada To His Cofounding Of Buffalo Springfield To The Huge Success Of Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young To His Comeback In The Nineties Filled With Never Before Published Words Directly From The Artist Himself, Shakey Is An Essential Addition To The Top Shelf Of Rock Biographies Jimmy McDonough does an amazing job going through the ups and downs of a very complicated and unpredictable artist A good book enthralls you with it s story, while a great book truly inspires youSHAKEY is a great book, It delves so deep into Neil Young s persona that you truly believe you know him like you know yourself My understanding and appreciation of Young s music is now not only enhanced, but ingrained in my system Even the structure of McDonough s book is a knockout In each chapter, the author goes into detail about various events in Neil Young s professional and personal lifefrom The Squires and The Mynah Birds, to Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash Young to Crazy Horse and to the many solo albums Yet just when you think the story can t get any compelling than it already iswe hear from Neil Young himself, in conversation with the author, commenting on his actionsand inactions What s also great, is that Jimmy McDonough is a true fan of Young s musicyet also is Young s biggest critic, and often challenges Young directly if he feels Young s music, or performance is below par I was sad finishing the book Who knew I meanI ve never been a big Neil Young fan in the past I had one or two of his records when I was a teenager, I think Being a concert whore in my younger yearsI first saw Young perform at Live Aid in 1985, then attended three Neil Young concerts in 1986, 1988 1991 Plus I saw him perform at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary show in 1992 Last time I saw him was 9 years ago at a Crosby, Stills, Nash Young concert in Los Angeles which sadly was an extremely unpleasant experience for me, due to a disruptive audience At the start of 2009, I owned a total of two Neil Young CDsand only one of them I bought for Neil Young s sake the 1970 classic AFTER THE GOLDRUSH The other CD, MIRRORBALL, I only bought because it featured Pearl Jam as Neil s backing band on the entire album What changed Books I d been trying to change my reading habits for years I d been very attached to a series of small, pocket books called 33 1 3a series of books focusing on individual records, by a variety of musicians and bands I ve read over 30 of these bookseverything from The Beatles LET IT BE to David Bowie s LOW to Guns N Roses USE YOUR ILLUSION 12 Granted, not all of the books are good, and some are just plain awful Jethro Tull AQUALUNG is among the worst Despite this, I love these books so muchand have even been inspired to buy an album, just so I can read the 33 1 3 book My rule isI won t read a 33 1 3 book unless I have the album So, with that in mindI bought Neil Young s HARVEST album which is great as well as the 33 1 3 book The book, by Sam Inglis, was just okayhampered by the fact that Inglis didn t seem to like the album very muchmaking a point to let people know that TONIGHT S THE NIGHT is Neil Young greatest album Nonetheless, the book got me thinking about Neil Youngand soon enough, I bought a few Neil Young albums Which lead me to picking up SHAKEY on a whim at a Borders book store in Century Citywhich lead to even albums I now have close to 20 Neil Young albums, and counting So in essencethe music inspired the books, which inspired the music Who knew reading could be so much fun if you have any interest in the history of, fate of, or reason for american music in any sense, then you should pick this book up even if you aren t an obsessive fan of ned young, this is a fascinating insight into a driven maniacs passive aggressive propulsion into super fame shakey n young s nickname made moves that alienated him from his fans and friends alike, perhaps not even knowing that he hurt anyone in the process, and came out one of the most respected and admired american musicians ever even if you re just curious about what it feels like to drink tequila for two months straight from morning till morning, all the while taking speed and doing a thing called honey slides burnt weed mixed with honey and if you are a songwriter that likes to mentally and verbally abuse the musicians that he works with, this book will probably make you feel better about yourself. Neil Young deserves a better biography than this massive piece of shit The obnoxious author insists on inserting himself and his less than insightful critical assessments into every step of Neil Young s life The man possess not one ounce of objectivity While I have a lot of respect for Neil Young and love many of his earlier songs which constitute much of what I have heard of him , I have never been a fanatic This lack of fanaticism has limited my degree of fascination with his musical journey and I must admit that the book would be compelling if I were a devotee However, I suspect that even if I were one of the major Neil Young fans on the planet, I would be disappointed in this book It contains some interesting biographical information and it illuminated my lack of knowledge of most things Young That, coupled with my stubborn insistence not to give up on any book once I get past the half way point, is the primary reason I plowed through to the end This author is entitled to his opinion which includes a dismissal of virtually all of Crosby, Stills Nash s work together and with Young, not to mention considering their own solo work inconsequential but his arrogance not only regarding Young s contemporaries but also Young himself is truly repellent The book possesses a journeyman prose style and a Gonzo like Aren t I hip self consciousness that prompts one to seek someone with a reasonable, even handed assessment I recommend the book only for those who really want to know the essential facts of Neil Young s life although, to be honest, one could save time and suffer negligible lack of insight into what makes Young tick, by consulting a Wikipedia article. Gave up on page 559 I only persevered that far because I m a Neil Young fan Love the music The book doesn t describe him as a very likeable character, which from all the interviews and such I ve read over the years on Young, collectively paints a better and accurate overview of the man s character as an artist and a person.A book of this length, 778 pages, had to give some interesting details, if one wants to wade through it. Being a huge fan of Neil Young, someday I am going to return to this book This is an enjoyable biography of a true musical master and one not necessarily required for just fans Though, a fan s appreciation of Young will increase after reading this biography The book details everything from Young s incredible hearing to his infuriating behavior toward his fellow musicians. I d started out with this in a state of exhilaration, and found myself carrying it in airports, reading it in cabs and generally just gripped by Young s story, but it began to fade for me, just like Young s music can There was a stretch in his career when I found that every side he laid down was essential stuff, then, like Dylan, he went through a prolonged drought, then he bounced back, and was essential again Some time ago six years ago, thereabouts I cracked that if we were going to have a Bush in the White House we could take consolation in the fact that at least we d get some decent music out of Neil Young unfortunately it hasn t happened yet.I was surprised at how much I knew about Young, and how much I d known but forgotten Part of the initial rush of the book came from seeing this enigmatic figure come into focus and part of the letdown came from the fact that once he is in focus, it is clear that he is really kind of a jerk In fairness to Young, McDonough s portrait injects a great deal of McDonough into the process, and McDonough seems pretty burnt out about Neil Young by the time Young is into his fourth or fifth renaissance At first McDonough s strategy of injecting himself into the narrative seems brilliant He often starts chapters about a portion of Young s life off by describing his contemporary impression of some person who was important to Young at some time in the past He then weaves that individual s recollection into a narrative that also includes excerpts from his interviews with Young conducted over the course of the project, other third party accounts, and omniscient narrative drawn from other sources This works well for a while, but gradually McDonough becomes a and important character, and we find that we are reading about McDonough s impressions of a particular gig or recording than we are about anyone else Since these impressions are frequently negative, the appeal of reading them pales pretty quickly.Another problem is that quite a few people who you d think would be important to talk to declined to be interviewed Bob Dylan might or might not have something interesting to say Stephen Stills would certainly Robbie Robertson John Lyndon Young s wife Pegi is virtually absent McDonough cites her desire for privacy, then moves on, and we are left with a void David Geffen is not heard from McDonough provides a list of these and others, and probably anyone who is interested enough in the subject could supplement the list themselves Where s Bill Graham, for example Not too many people come off well Nils Lofgren does, which makes the absence of his Spindizzy catalogue from print feel all the painful My copies reside in the Antipodes, except for Nils final Grin album, Gone Crazy , recorded at about the same time as Tonight s the Night and concerning or less the same things Stills comes off badly, hardly a surprise David Crosby is not particularly vivid I get the sense that he was pretty strung out when most of this was written, but it is just as likely that he is a self absorbed jerk Graham Nash is a wimp but that is hardly stop the presses stuff Jack Nitzsche seems distant and dangerous, also hardly a surprise.Young s first wife, Carrie Snodgrass, who died last year comes off as a sad case a bright, talented and attractive person who got sucked into the worst of the Sixties Young divorced her because he felt she was unfaithful, she denies it, weakly, and Young s infidelities are glossed over hey, that s rock n roll, baby.Similarly, the incredible amount of drug use is just staggering It is not glamorized, particularly, but it is plain that the drugs took their toll on everyone Norman Mailer talks about how drugs affected his creative process in Advertisements for Myself in a knowing way, essentially concluding that drug use is borrowing from the future at a high rate of interest It isn t hard to conclude that the same conclusion can be drawn with Young, but McDonough doesn t draw it or any other real conclusion, for that matter.Finally, how a book like this can exist without even a stab at a discography is a mystery For that matter, very little effort is put into noting what the critical response to particular albums was, which would have been interesting Shakey will be a good starting place for the definitive Neil Young bio, but that book is a long way from being written. If you re a music fanatic there s something about a well written artist biography you re already familiar with the music and seeing the human side of the artist come through gives you a great deal of insight into your own mental attitudes that can t quite be put into words The feeling of the music is there Then you see the human that created it really see him through good writing To me all music is highly spiritual Maybe that s corny but that s the way I ve always felt and the love of music as a fan and what it s meant to me as a career has been hugely foundational to how I experience life There s so much of Young s music I haven t even fully digested and I ve known his music for decades He s one of a handful of the type of prolific artist that I wonder might be a thing of the past Of North Americans only Bob Dylan comes close among the living and I think Young might even be prolific and consistent than Dylan These guys fill the role that the great poets would have in past centuries And as rock bios go the writing in this one is outstanding with the bonus of being told from a true fan s perspective.