The Neil Young Nation is Here
It's always extremely gratifying when a fellow Neil fan follows his heart and dreams and realizes his vision.
While I haven't actually picked up the new book Neil Young Nation by Kevin Chong as of yet, I have every intention to. Mainly because it seems that Kevin & Thrasher have something in common. Specifically the book's sub-title: "A Quest, an Obsession (and a True Story)".
It was a year or so ago that Kevin contacted Thrasher and asked for some recollections on Neil's music and what it means to be a Neil Young fan.
Since then, Kevin set out on an adventure to discover what it really means to be a Neil fan making this a definitive account.
Kevin writes in Neil Young Nation on Neil's music:
"He bristles against expectations; he chooses spontaneity over precision, passion over perfection. This was exactly what I wanted in my life, in my art. What Young called reckless abandon."
Crisscrossing the continent, he follows the route that led Young to become a music legend. He visits Winnipeg, where Young formed his first band, the Squires; Omeemee, Young`s childhood home; Los Angeles, where Young became a rock star; and many more of Young`s former haunts. He meets rabid Neil fans, talks to people who knew Young as a kid, and puzzles over Young`s strange, sometimes contradictory pronouncements.
From The Toronto Star review by Patricia Robertson:
"It's a terrific account of one writer's wavering self-confidence, resurrected creativity and enduring passion. Neil Young Nation confirms Chong's instinctive decision to embrace Neil Young's example and head out on the open road - instead of simply assuming the fetal position in his Vancouver apartment."
From a highly coveted New York Times Book Review By GARY KAMIYA:
"Hero worship is kind of embarrassing. We've all groveled before various idols, and if we're lucky we never entirely lose whatever was real in our goo-gooing. But we usually don't talk about it in public once we grow up. The Beatle fan magazines, the posters of Joe Montana or Diana Rigg, the volumes of Ayn Rand - these things don't age well in the cask. Being starry-eyed is suitable for sonnet writers and teenagers, but at some point most of us either transform our infatuation into something deeper - like scholarship or obsession - or kiss it goodbye.
Kevin Chong, the author of "Neil Young Nation," falls somewhere between adolescent awe and mature appreciation. He's a modest and savvy enough guy that one suspects he doesn't really think that driving all over North America retracing the steps of a mythical Neil Young road trip is going to yield some kind of epiphany. But he does it anyway. The result is like watching an endless home movie in which a not very close friend visits all the houses he grew up in."
In a review in Las Vegas City LifeBY TOD GOLDBERG:
"Rust never sleeps, Neil Young sang, and in the case of Chong's book, that's never more apparent. Chong's narrative invariably slips into the ether of road song sentimentality -- visions of long, twisting highways and Neil Young on heavy rotation would do that to any writer -- yet his engaging voice, casual humor and fine ability to conjure character from the people he meets along the way (everyone from Young family friends, to wheelchair-bound tribute band drummers, to a woman who made the original hearse trip from Canada to America with Young himself) manages to pull Neil Young Nation from a point of obvious reverence to something close to understanding both of the book's subject and the author himself. When Chong finally encounters Young -- albeit on stage at Farm Aid -- the author finally is able to make the connection, that to be forever young is possible in song, but not always in life.
Neil Young Nation is love letter from a fan to his idol, and in the end that truth, that realization, carries the book beyond its sentimentality and makes it an endearing look at two artists."
From a review in the Calgary Herald by Chris Ewart (19 November 2005):
"Neil Young Nation serves as a lesson in having a good time, and also finishing what one starts. The affable Chong found following Young's road map to youthfulness a cathartic experience.
"There's this great little quote from Scott Young (Neil's father and a writer) that's in the book. What Neil learned from Scott was to 'lay yourself bare' and keep things simple. To choose passion over precision.
That's a very important lesson."
Chong is currently working on a second novel, and wants to write another book involving a road trip so he can take his friends along again. Let's hope Young figures in somehow, as Chong proves the man is far too important to leave by the side of the highway.
"Neil Young saved me from being an accountant or lawyer, so in a way, he saved my life."
As for our review? We'll just say that NYN is THE definitive Neil Young fan book.
Support Neil Young Nation by Kevin Chong. (Thanks! You'll also be supporting Thrasher's Wheat).
In other Neil Young Nation news, the Cultural Affairs Officer at the Canadian Consulate in New York is looking for some help. On November 16, Neil Young Nation author Kevin Chong will be at "The Writer`s Voice Visiting Author Series" at West Side YMCA, 5 W. 63rd Street (between Central Park West and Broadway).
The series is looking for someone who would like to volunteer to play a Neil Young song on guitar to begin the evening reading and discussion.
If you can help out, contact:
Cultural Affairs Officer
Political/Economic Relations and Public Affairs
Consulate General of Canada - New York
More on other books about Neil Young.