I heard ‘Rocking In The Free World’ this week on the radio and forgot how good it really is. Neil Young is now 65 and has seen so many changes in music. Forty years in the business and 34 studio albums has shown his diversity from folk singer to grunge guitar hero and in his first book Waging Heavy Peace (Viking, £25), he took a year out to talk about his life.
Not a chronology you understand, this multi-chapter hardback tells of his family life, his obsessions with model trains and cars and of course his musical friends and collaborations and there are many.
Early success was with Stephen Stills in the short lived Buffalo Springfield but they would meet again for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young becoming legends overnight after Woodstock 1969. His prolific solo work reached greater heights too beginning with albums ‘After The Goldrus’h and ‘Harvest’ the latter spawning his defining ‘Heart Of Gold’ single.
All these episodes are included as is his acknowledgement of Kurt Cobain’s suicide note quoting his ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ lyrics.
In 68 chapters there are many insights and inner thoughts and I suspect just a sample of what could be a series.
The perfect compliment to the book is the new album Psychedelic Pill (Reprise), and for those who have followed ‘ol Neil this is just another chapter. Not one to shy away from guitar solos and extended songs he opens with ‘Driftin’ Away’ clocking in at over 26 minutes. In his past he has meandered with Cortez The Killer
and Like A Hurricane but never
as long as this. His simple Crazy Horse band reunion sounds like they always did with garage rhythm and guitar exploring new melodies. The band harmonise too and this continues on Ramada Inn which has more characteristic riffs but is over in a mere 16 minutes as is ‘For The Love Of Man’ with an extended metallic ending; all vintage Neil and too much for a single CD, we are now on disc two. Still cooking still active the old hippie is still rockin’.