Review and Contest - Long May You Run: The Illustrated History of Neil Young
A new book on Neil Young arrived a few weeks ago and we would like to share our impressions.
Long May You Run: The Illustrated History of Neil Young by veteran rock journalists Daniel Durchholz (Rolling Stone) and Gary Graff (New York Times) is -- without a doubt -- pretty much of an essential item for the Neil Young library.
Los Angles, CA - 11/4/76
Photo by Doug Allsop
The first impression one gets from leafing through the pages is the high quality of the printing and presentation by the publisher Voyageur Press. It's a coffee table type of book with 224 large pages, nice grade paper stock, and fine reproductions of photos and memorabilia.
It would seem that for even those Neil fans who've read everything from Jimmy McDonough's Shakey: A Neil Young Biography to the Neil Young Archives Journal book will find something new and eye catching in The Illustrated History.
Everybody's Rockin' - August, 1983
Young's long, storied career is lovingly assembled in this tome which covers five decades with accurate research and many never-before-seen photos. There are numerous photographs from the 1960s to the present, with concert posters, memorabilia and other assorted intriguing oddities and one-offs.
Also, there's an extensive discography, filmography, sideman listing, and many other resource indexes.
The book is organized into 8 chapters covering various segments of Neil's career, such as "Tired Eyes, 1972-1975" and "Freedom, 1988-1997". There are several other organizing themes which are put together quite nicely -- one of which we find to be particularly interesting surrounding Neil's focus on the "muse". The fact that the authors are able to recognize, distill, and capture this trait is noteworthy in that so much of what is written on Young often fails to coherently address this key distinguishing trait.
International Harvesters Tour, Costa Mesa, CA - 10/24/84
Photo by Robert Matheu
Another nice feature are the various sub-chapters on key events and themes. There's a nice little section titled "Cowgirls in the Sand" that details Young's music with Emmylou Harris, Nicolette Larson, Linda Ronstadt, Astrid Young and Pegi Young.
Other sub-chapters include "The Crazy Horse Story", "The Making of Ohio", and our favorite subject "Southern Man - Neil Young's Feud with Lynyrd Skynyrd".
Regular readers of Thrasher's Wheat have read about our analysis of Ronnie and Neil probably more than they ever care to. However, we are here to report that we found what has to be some of the most startlingly new information in the book. According to Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist) Ronnie Van Zant was actually buried in a "Tonight's The Night" t-shirt which Young had given to him prior to the band's fatal plane crash.
We have always been highly skeptical of the rumors that Van Zant was buried in a TTN t-shirt and it just seemed to be a myth to perpetuate a tragic legend. And maybe it still is just a myth but a mighty fine one indeed.
CSNY Tour, Oakland, CA - 7/13 or 14/74
Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot
Which brings us to a criticism of the book, which is that it lacks footnotes, endnotes and other detailed documentation of such assertions as the TTN t-shirt legend.
Which is not to say that the book lacks factual integrity which it clearly does indicate it was written by authors with keen knowledge of Young's music. From an interview with author Daniel Durchholz in St. Louis Today BY KEVIN C. JOHNSON who asked what was the most challenging part of the book:
Durchholz: I think the main thing is we wanted to cram everything in there. There was so much material to deal with. What was cool about this is normally in my life as a freelancer, I'm writing about two or three different things every day. The ability to take a break from that and dive into one artist's catalog is a luxury, even when it's the rough parts, like his movies like "Journey Through the Past," which makes no sense whatsoever, or "Human Highway," a train wreck of a movie.
Being able to do that was really fun, but we still had to make sure we had all the bases covered, and that's a tall order.
Neil Young's got fans who are fans of every period he has done. He's got fans of just early Neil Young, just his acoustic music, and just the electric Neil. We wanted to pay attention to all of that.
Nevertheless, the book will certainly hold a lot of surprises and revelations for the more casual fan. In fact this is the type of book you hand someone who says "I just don't get Neil Young".
Ragged Glory Tour, Los Angeles, CA - 4/26/91
Photo by Robert Matheu
In the book's introduction authors Durchholz and Graff capture the essence of Neil Young and his music:
But what's certain is that almost no other popular musician--of Young's vintage or before or since--is as fascinating and fun to track. He's on a marathon of unpredictable terrain that seems far from over as of this writing. The story is ongoing, and it's still a great one to tell.
That tantalizing little morsel only serves to whet the appetite for what is about to unfold in the long run yet to come.
To view more page samples, see Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History on Amazon.com.
CONTEST: Win a free copy of Long May You Run: The Illustrated History of Neil Young
Thanks to the publisher Voyageur Press, we are pleased to be able to announce that we have five (5) copies to give away in a contest.
To enter the contest for a free copy of Long May You Run: The Illustrated History of Neil Young, you must correctly provide the answer to following question: What albums comprise Neil Young's "Ditch Trilogy"?
As a bonus tie breaker, answer to following question: What is the specific derivation of the phrase "Ditch Trilogy"?
Entries must be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org with SUBJECT line: Contest - Long May You Run: The Illustrated History of Neil Young
Include name, postal mailing address with country.
Voyageur Press and Thrasher's Wheat have agreed that winners will be selected from the entire planet earth including Canada, Europe, and countries other than the U.S.A. (CLARIFICATION: That last rule was not intended to mean that USA entries are ineligible. USA entries are eligible.)
Deadline: June 10, 2010