Neil Young is one of rock and roll’s most important, influential and enigmatic figures, an intensely reticent artist who has granted no writer access to his inner sanctum -- until now. In Shakey, Jimmy McDonough tells the whole story of Young’s incredible life and career: from his childhood in Canada to the founding of folk-rock pioneers Buffalo Springfield; to the bleary conglomeration of Crazy Horse and simultaneous monstrous success of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; to the depths of the Tonight’s the Night depravity and the strange changes of the Geffen years; and Young’s unprecedented nineties “comeback” with Ragged Glory and Harvest Moon. No detail is spared -- not the sex, drugs, relationships, breakups, births, deaths, nor the variety of chameleon-like transformations that have enabled Young to remain one of the most revered musical forces of our time.
Shakey (the title refers to one of Young’s many aliases) is not only a detailed chronicle of the rock era told through the life of one uncompromising artist, but the compelling human story of a lonely kid for whom music was the only outlet; a driven yet tortured figure who learned to control his epilepsy via “mind over matter”; an oddly passionate model train mogul who -- inspired by his own son’s struggle with cerebral palsy -- became a major activist in the quest to help those with the condition.
Based on interviews with hundreds of Young’s associates (many speaking freely for the first time), as well as extensive exclusive interviews with Young himself, Shakey is a story told through the interwoven voices of McDonough -- biographer, critic, historian, obsessive fan -- and the ever-cantankerous (but slyly funny) Young himself, who puts his biographer through some unforgettable paces while answering the question: Is it better to burn out than to fade away?
From the Trade Paperback edition.