Friday, October 19, 2012

Neil Young and Meta-Memoir

I've been quite curious about the new Neil Young memoir since it came out earlier this month. I have been a Neil Young fan for a long time - Rust Never Sleeps is easily one of the best rock & roll records of all time; Harvest, Harvest Moon, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere - the list goes on. As well, the concert film Heart of Gold is fantastic, and a new concert film, Neil Young Journeys, is also out this month. He released Neil Young Archives, Vol 1: 1963-1972 a few years ago - home recordings, early demos, personal stuff. So it is natural to think that his memoir would be illuminating - Young is looking back on his life and career, and has the desire to share it with his fans.

I listened to Neil Young on NPR's Fresh Air a couple of weeks ago - and however astute and interviewer Terry Gross is, Neil Young was still, well, Neil Young, as mysterious and reluctant to share as ever. Perhaps he isn't reluctant to share, just reluctant to submit to someone else's terms. Levi Asher at Literary Kicks thinks so, too. His latest blog post is titled "Neil Young's Book Is Not a Great Memoir, But It's a Great Something":
A memoir? Waging Heavy Peace is a stream-of-consciousness, sucking in to itself like a vortex every thought, idea, opinion, business plan, musical memory, old grudge, old friendship or hilarious observation that flits past Neil's eyes as he sits there trying to write. Heavy Peace is a highly self-conscious work -- meta-memoir, to be sure -- and Neil does not seem happy about the fact that he has committed to writing an autobiography, even though he did so of his own free will. He swerves crazily, like a drunken bus driver on a mountain trail, between past and present tense, between the 1960s and the 1980s and now, between technology talk and random memories and musical explanations and tributes to his long-lost friends. The book will keep you awake and amused, but it won't deliver the punch of truth and honesty that a great memoir should deliver, and that recent books by Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Patti Smith all delivered.
The rest of the article is a great review of the book - I am still intrigued about the book; however, when I read it, I won't be looking for answers.

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