A ven­er­a­ble rock star

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Iain Shed­den

flit­ting from the 50s to the 90s and re­peat­edly to his list of cur­rent bug­bears with a style that makes easy read­ing but that, the fur­ther you get into the book, be­comes frus­trat­ing, not least when he mounts one of the sev­eral hobby horses to which he is so de­voted.

Th­ese are, in no par­tic­u­lar or­der, Pono; the ar­chives of his work that he lov­ingly col­lates, a sec­ond vol­ume of which is due for re­lease next year; a pas­sion for movie-mak­ing that has re­sulted in a rash of films doc­u­ment­ing most of his ca­reer; his love of the many rare cars he owns and the lengths he has gone to ac­quire them; his model trains, an­other life­long ob­ses­sion re­alised and main­tained on a track in a pur­pose-built build­ing on his ranch; the Linc­volt, an eco-friendly car that Young has spent hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars de­vel­op­ing and that he hopes will re­sult in all mo­tor ve­hi­cles be­ing kinder to the en­vi­ron­ment.

Young em­barked on this au­to­bi­og­ra­phy last year. He broke his toe walking on the ranch and fig­ured he needed some­thing to oc­cupy his time while he re­cu­per­ated. This co­in­cided with him stop­ping drink­ing and smok­ing pot, which he says made him more fo­cused but raised doubts in him about whether he could still write songs. If noth­ing else, Psy­che­delic Pill proves there is life — and art — with­out weed.

How­ever, if Wag­ing Heavy Peace is Young at his most fo­cused, one can hardly imag­ine what a ram­ble it would have been had he been un­der the in­flu­ence. Its dis­joint­ed­ness has a cer­tain warmth, mak­ing the writer more lik­able for those who feel they al­ready know him, to a de­gree, through his work.

Yet too of­ten his random thoughts, par­tic­u­larly the ones prais­ing the many mu­si­cians and pro­duc­ers with whom he has worked, are coloured by medi­ocre anec­dotes and fin­ished with corny ex­cla­ma­tions along the lines of: ‘‘ Thanks, Jimmy!’’

In his ac­knowl­edg­ments, Young thanks all the peo­ple who ap­pear in the book and who are go­ing to be in his next one. Yes, his next one. ‘‘ There can never be enough pages for you,’’ he tells them. Some of us not men­tioned in dis­patches may view this gen­eros­ity with trep­i­da­tion.

Neil Young wrote his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy while re­cov­er­ing from a bro­ken toe last year

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