Review and Contest - Neil Young FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker
Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker
by Glen Boyd
(To win a free copy, see contest details below)
One of the challenges of reviewing books on Neil Young is figuring out whether they are truly ground breaking into new territory versus being just simply another re-hash.
It would seem that for even those Neil Young fans who've read everything from Jimmy McDonough's deeply flawed but rather definitive Shakey: A Neil Young Biography to Long May You Run: The Illustrated History of Neil Young will find something new and eye catching in Neil Young FAQ.
The just published Neil Young FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker by Glen Boyd manages that challenge by taking much of what we know about Neil Young and his music and packaging it into a compelling and indispensable reference book for your rock & roll library.
The first impression one gets from leafing through the pages is the breadth and depth of the FAQ's format with 385 pages covering Young's long, storied career. The FAQ covers five decades with accurate research, photos (many never before published) from the 1960s to the present, with concert posters, memorabilia and other assorted intriguing oddities and one-offs.
Poster courtesy of Neil Fleisher/Heritage Auctions
(Click photo to enlarge)
In the interest of full disclosure here, we must state upfront that we provided research assistance and wrote the book's Foreword. When author (and fellow music blogger) Glen Boyd asked us to help out on this book we admit that we were a bit hesitant. Not that we thought a Neil Young FAQ was a bad idea or anything. It was just thinking about the daunting task of trying to catalog the virtually uncategorizable Neil Young. But author Boyd has done just that -- categorized the uncategorizable .
As author Boyd posted recently, "After a two-year journey of blood, sweat, tears, and more all-nighters writing furiously until the sun came up than I care to remember, my first full-length book as a music journalist was finally released this week."
The book is organized into 42 chapters covering various segments of Neil's career, such as "Like An Ocean Fish Who Swam Upstream: Chrome Dreams, American Stars And Bars, The Ducks, Decade, And Comes A Time" and "More To The Picture Than Meets The Eye: Human Highway, Rust Never Sleeps, And The Punk Rock Connection." In mixing a variety of approaches, such as reviews, lists, and anecdotes, The Neil Young FAQ keeps the reader turning the pages in anticipation of where we'll go next -- whether the ditch or the middle of the road -- much like Young's quixotic career itself.
Courtesy of Tom Therme collection
(Click photo to enlarge)
The Neil Young FAQ is an up to date and definitive guide to the music and covers every song and album, as well as, unreleased legendary recordings such as Homegrown, Chrome Dreams, Toast, Oceanside, Countryside and Meadow Dusk.
In an interview with author Glen Boyd, he says that the effort took nearly two years together and adds:
"I'm a huge fan of his, going way way back. I know an awful lot about him and I'm very aware of his entire history. Once you actually start writing something like this though and you start researching it, there's so much that you find out you didn't know.
The most remarkable thing about Young is that he remains relevant and vital well into his fifth decade of making music."
The Neil Young FAQ has quite a few memorable items that even some of his die-hard fans may not be aware of. For example, because of pressing problems with the album 'Comes A Time', Young purchased the entire production run of 200,000 copies and shot bullet holes through them. He did not want the album released until the problems with the recording were corrected.
1974-08-25, Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tennessee
Photo by Mary Andrews
(Click photo to enlarge)
In addition to pulling together so many disparate threads of Young's career, Boyd manages to breath new life into well known criticisms like Young's genre hopping 1980's period. He writes:
Of all the genre-hopping wackiness that Neil Young became somewhat infamous for during the eighties though, there are certainly any number of examples one could point towards as being less sincere, more misguided efforts than Trans (Everybody’s Rocking, anyone?).
But Trans alone remains the most visible reminder from that strangest of periods in Neil Young’s long career. Fairly or otherwise, the album that marked Neil Young’s brief flirtation with a Kraftwerk influenced, synthesized brand of rock continues to be a flashpoint in the so-called “eighties debate” even now.
Even so, the album performed much better on the Billboard charts at the time than you might expect, peaking at a rather respectful #19. The fact that this happened despite a lack of any real support, either at radio or from the record company (even though the album represented his Geffen Records debut), has to be considered somewhat remarkable in retrospect today.
The fact is, the techno-pop flavored sounds of Neil Young’s then newly synthesized music would have fit right in with MTV’s playlist at the time – heavy on videos from British syntho-pop acts like Soft Cell and Duran Duran as it was.
These types of observations are woven throughout the FAQ which provides context for the more casual fan, yet sufficient analysis for a diehard rustie to find some new life breathed into a familiar topic.
In terms of minor criticism, we would have liked to have seen more use of color images but that's likely due to publishing economics. And some may not have that keen an interest in rare record covers and labels while many Neil vinyl junkies will likely revel in the detail.
Nevertheless, the book will certainly hold a lot of surprises and revelations for the more casual fan. After watching Boyd’s vision to comprehensively document Young’s forty-plus-year career come together -— all the while juggling all of the other challenges that come with following this rock-’n’-roll scene on a daily basis -— the Neil Young FAQ will hopefully be an essential reference book in your own music library. And just maybe it will provide some clues to unlocking the mysteries of Young’s vast canon of work over some five decades and counting.
CONTEST: Win a free copy of Neil Young FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker by Glen Boyd
Thanks to the publisher BackBeat Books, 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 Neil Young FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker, follow these steps:
#1) Subscribe (or be already subscribed) to one of our blogfeed channels either via Facebook (LIKE us), Twitter (FOLLOW us) and/or subscribe to our email list.
2) Then just email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name, postal mailing address, and which blogfeed channel you signed up for (Facebook, Twitter, email list options noted above in Step #1). *Be sure to identify your complete Facebook ID, Twitter handle, or email address.*
Entries must be emailed with SUBJECT line: Contest - Neil Young FAQ
Include name, postal mailing address with *country*.
Deadline: June 8, 2012
We'll then randomly select Thrasher's Wheat readers as winners. Publisher BackBeat Books 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.)
You can meet author Glen Boyd in person at a book signing being held in on Friday, June 1, 2012 in Seattle, WA. Details at Neil Young FAQ - Book Signing to Benefit Bridge School.
If you wish to purchase a copy of the book Neil Young FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker (via Amazon.com) now, please know that Thrasher's Wheat will be donating all proceeds from our Amazon commissions directly to benefit the Bridge School.
The Bridge School
The Bridge School is an alternative learning institution for children with severe learning and communication disabilities. Being the parent of two children with such disabilities, Neil Young is a longtime supporter, and headlines an all-star benefit concert each year for the Bridge School, while Neil's wife Pegi sits on the board of directors.
(Also, note that there is an additional discount when ordering the Neil Young FAQ and Waging Heavy Peace, Neil Young's upcoming auto biography on Amazon.com : Books.)