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Shakey: Neil Young's Biography [Format Kindle]

Jimmy McDonough
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Cantankerous and secretive, Neil Young has banished authors from his inner sanctum--until now. In Shakey, Jimmy McDonough distills more than 300 interviews (including guarded yet revealing interrogations of Young himself) into the definitive biography: the skyrocket success, willful disasters, health horrors and triumphs, stunning comebacks, and highly colorful scuffles with equally impossible characters like Stephen Stills, David Crosby, and the incompetent yet brilliant musicians of Crazy Horse. Young is not quite the noble soul some thought--he's an astounding control freak. But he is never less than fascinating. "As ruthless as I may seem to be," Young tells McDonough, "you gotta do what ya gotta do. Just like a f-----' vampire. Heh heh heh." --Tim Appelo

Extrait

Innaresting characters

–Who gave you the Nixon mask?

I can’t recall, as John Dean would say. I’ll always tell ya if I remember, Jimmy. You talk about things and it comes back.

–Every question seems to stir up something in you.

Not the answers you were looking for . . . but they’re answers, heh heh. Hard to remember things. It’s all there, though. Maybe we oughta go into hypnotherapy, fuckin’ go right back. Take like, six months to get zoned in on the Tonight’s the Night sessions -- exactly what was happening? “Okay, we’re gonna go back a little further today, Neil. . . .”

–I’m frustrated.

Hey, well, you’ve been frustrated since the beginning, heh heh. You’re not frustrated because of this–we’re doing it. You’re asking questions and I’m answering them. What could be less frustrating than THAT?

–Maybe I should tell people in the intro you don’t wanna do the book.

You can tell ’em if you want. The bottom line is if it went against the grain so hard, I wouldn’t be doin’ it. The thing is, it’s not necessarily my first love. I think that’s a subtle way of puttin’ it. Heh heh.

The first time Jon McKeig really encountered Shakey he was under a car. Shakey’s a nickname–from alter ego Bernard Shakey, sometime moviemaker. It’s just one of many aliases: Joe Yankee, overdubber; Shakey Deal, blues singer; Phil Perspective, producer.

The world knows him as Neil Young.

McKeig had been toiling away on Nanoo, a blue and white ’59 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible of Young’s, for months without actually seeing him. The car was a mess, but McKeig would soon realize that this was Shakey’s M.O., buying beyond-dead wrecks for peanuts, then sparing no expense to bring them back to life. “I can name five automobiles he has that the parts cars were in better shape than the cars that were restored.” McKeig shook his head. “That’s extreme. I don’t believe anybody anywhere goes to that length. If the car smells wrong, you’re screwed; if it squeaks, it’s not cool . . . he’s fanatical.”

One day Neil happened in for a personal inspection. “Neil came right over to the car, looked at it and -- I’ll be damned -- all of a sudden he went down to the concrete and slid right underneath. All you could see was his tennis shoes.”

McKeig asked Young how far he wanted to go with the thrashed Cadillac. “Neil looked me straight in the eye and said calmly, ‘As long as it’s museum quality.’ ” McKeig shuddered. “I never heard it said like that -- ‘museum quality.’ Then he left. That’s all that was said. I never saw him -- for years after.” Decades later, Nanoo still isn’t finished.

Cars are a major part of Shakey’s world. He’s written countless songs in them and they figure into more than a few of his lyrics: “Trans Am,” “Long May You Run,” “Motor City,” “Like an Inca (Hitchhiker),” “Drifter,” “Roll Another Number (For the Road),” “Sedan Delivery,” “Get Gone”; the list goes on.

Young would even advise me on touch-up paint and carburetor problems -- until I flipped my ’66 Falcon Futura twice off the side of a two-lane, nearly killing myself. Out on the road in his bus, Young called me a few days after. “See, Neil?” I said. “You tried to bump me off, but I’m still here. Now I gotta finish the book.’’ Unnerved, he immediately called back after we hung up. “Jimmy,” he said, his voice awash in cellular static, “just want ya to know I’m glad ya didn’t die in the wreck.” Shakey and I had a colorful relationship. But that was all in the future.

Right now it was April 1991, and I was in Los Angeles, watching McKeig -- now Young’s live-in auto restorer and maintenance man -- pilot members of Neil’s family through the service areas of the L.A. Sports Arena in a sleek black ’54 Caddy that Young called Pearl: He nicknames everything. It was a stunning vehicle. He had paid $400 for the car in 1974 and spent years and a fortune restoring it. Legend has it that some rich Arab saw Young tooling Pearl through Hollywood and offered him a pile of loot on the spot.

Out of the Caddy’s backseat emerged Neil’s wife, Pegi, a striking blonde and a powerful force in her own right. She and Neil have two children, Ben and Amber. Family is a priority to both of them. Ben, born spastic, nonoral and quadriplegic, went everywhere with his mom and pop. It wasn’t unusual to see him at the side of the stage in his wheelchair, watching his father work.

“Spud,” Ben’s nickname, graced the door of Pocahontas, which was parked not far from Pearl. A huge, Belgian-made ’70 Silver Eagle, forty feet long and sporting a souped-up mill, the bus had been Young’s home on the road since 1976. Young had gone to outlandish lengths in customizing it. Down one side was an extravagant stained-glass comet circling the earth; the roof was domed with vintage Hudson Hornet/Studebaker Starlight Coupe cartops that acted as skylights. The interior of the bus -- designed under Young’s supervision to resemble the skeletal structure of a giant bird -- was lavish with hand-carved wood, down to the door handle of the microwave. Above the big front windows hung a large brass eagle’s eye. “This bus is so fucked up and over the top,” Young would tell me with a grin. “Which is just how I was back in the mid-seventies when I built it.”

Bus driver Joe McKenna was making sure Pocahontas was shipshape for Neil’s arrival. An Irishman with a low-slung belly, a silver pompadour and a voice lower than a frog’s, Joe loved the golf course and let little faze him. He seemed to have a calming effect on Young, who once dubbed him “The Lucky Leprechaun.” McKenna would beat cancer after Young helped him get alternative medical help. “Neil Young saved my life,” he told me. “Put that in your book.”

Next to the steering wheel hung a sign that read in bold block letters, don’t spill the soup.

I wouldn’t have driven that bus for love, money or drugs. When it came to Pocahontas, Shakey was like a hawk. He knew every ding and dimple and wanted the ones he didn’t know explained immediately.

An intense relationship with his bus drivers, I mused, but tour manager Bob Sterne set me straight. “In all honesty, I think the intense relationship is with the bus,” said Sterne, a big, bearded, no-nonsense monolith with a constantly peeling nose and sporting a Cruex jock itch ointment T-shirt. Sterne and Joe McKenna weren’t exactly the best of pals.

Sterne was forever seeking info on Young’s elusive doings and one of McKenna’s jobs was to keep the world away.

Bob was no stranger to that task -- his makeshift office inside the sports arena was plastered with signs like if you want a backstage pass, get lost. Sterne was hard-core. It came with the territory. “Neil’s not gonna do what you think he’s gonna do or what he said last week -- it’s not a good place for the average person to be. The people who are looking for a paycheck don’t last long.”

Young likes to keep everyone on their toes. “Neil’s come to me and said, ‘Go get all the set lists and throw ’em in the trash can’ -- and he said this to me fifteen minutes before the show,” said Sterne. “He’s not just talking about the band’s set list, he’s talking about the lighting guys, the sound guys -- every single set list in the building.”

Sitting in the office not far from Sterne was Tim Foster, Young’s stage manager and primary roadie. Foster had worked for Young off and on -- mostly on -- since 1973. With a Dick Tracy chin, a mustache and a baseball cap pulled down to his eyes, Foster saw everything and said little. “Tim never gets flustered,” said Sterne. “He understands Neil has no schedule.”

Making his way through the backstage maze out to the arena’s mixing station was Tim Mulligan, his long hair, mustache and shades making him look like the world’s most sullen Doobie Brother. Nothing impresses Mulligan. He’s been working on Young’s albums and mixing his live sound for decades. “Producers, engineers come and go,” said Sterne. “Mulligan hangs in there. He doesn’t have an opinion.” Tim lives alone on Young’s ranch, without a phone. “Mulligan has this incredible allegiance,” said longtime Young associate “Ranger Dave” Cline. “He lives and breathes Neil. It’s his whole life.”

It took years for Mulligan to warm to me, and even then he wouldn’t give me an interview, just tersely answered a few questions. Getting any one of Young’s crew to talk was like breaking into the Mafia. They were fiercely devoted, and although they’d all been subject to the ferocious twists and turns of Neil’s psyche, most had been around for decades. And every one of them was an individual. “Innaresting characters,” as Young would put it. “They’re all Neil,” said Graham Nash. “They all represent a slice of Neil’s personality.”

“Neil likes quirky people around him,” said Elliot Roberts, Young’s manager since the late sixties. “I think having quirky people around him lessens -- in his mind -- his own quirkiness. ‘Yes, I am standing on my head, but look at these two other guys nude standing on their head.’ ”
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Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 3226 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 800 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage Digital; Édition : New Ed (7 juin 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00D48F1ZY
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°384.078 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Don't Be Denied 30 juin 2009
Format:Broché
Près de 800 pages, huit ans de travail, six ans d'interviews, 300 témoignages...
Et les chiffres ne prouvent rien...ici il faut lire.
Cette biographie de Neil Young est remarquable en tous points.
Jimmy Mc Donough ne vise pas à percer un mystère, mais à l'exposer sous toutes ses facettes, multiples, souvent contradictoires (a "cross of himself and a fox"). Mais quand la contradiction devient chez un artiste la preuve même, et sur le long terme, de la cohérence, cette approche est la seule qui vaille.
Les grandes biographies sont souvent d'origine américaine...Une spécialité. Mais l'amoncellement des faits, des plus ténus aux plus officialisés par la notoriété ne suffit pas à l'exploration des choses de l'art...Et quand celui-ci noue inexorablement le brut de décoffrage et une sophistication jamais précieuse, mais imposée par une voie intérieure dont la mouvance est la continuité même, çà se complique...C'est néammoins réussi.
Dans ce bouquin, il y a la musique.
De l'enfance à Toronto, à Winnipeg avec le divorce des parents ("When I was a young boy/ ma mama said to me/ Your father 's left home today / I think he's gone to stay/ We drove back to Winnipeg"...), de Thunder Bay avec les Squires, de Toronto en passant par New York...du voyage mythique jusqu'à LA à la suite qui se pousuit encore aujourd'hui...on trouvera tout.
Plus tous les portraits obligatoires, vivants,y compris pour les morts...Le Loner a été bien accompagné par ceux qui lui ont offert sa solitude ( Rassy, David Briggs, Elliot Roberts, Danny Whitten, le Crazy Horse et on en passe ...
Lire la suite ›
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Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  179 commentaires
78 internautes sur 88 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Well researched, but poorly edited and in the end, bombastic 9 juin 2002
Par Dan Ryan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
For Neil Young fans only. Read with patience.
McDonough deserves credit for researching Neil Young's life, particularly his early days. His early days in Canada are particularly revealing, showing how Neil's hard-driven personality propelled into great success.
McDonough also deserves credit for getting the always obscure Neil to be about as open as he gets. The interviews are at their best when Neil is describing events in the past. Neil is at times very candid about his failings in his personal life (two divorces) and in his professional life (over-producing "Mr. Soul").
Unfortunately, the book suffers on a few fronts.
First of all, it is poorly edited. The length of the book could have easily been cut 200 pages without much loss. Several times the book will describe events, then have length quotes from Neil exactly describing the same event.
Second, McDonough's status as a hard-core Neil Young fan makes some of his prose rather silly. His exhaltations of "Tonight's the Night" just seem silly. For Pete's sake, Jimmy, it's just Rock and Roll, not the second coming of Jesus.
Finally, the last 100 pages or so are really regrettable. McDonough inserts himself into the biography. Suddenly, it's Jimmy teaching Neil about Nirvana, Jimmy trying to save Neil from the evils of being a Lionel Trains Tycoon. Most annoying is McDonough's whining about Neil giving lots of interviews. Oh, boo hoo, Jimmy's interviews with Niel aren't that exclusive.
But, for a Neil Young fan, this book is indispensible. After reading this book, I have a better understanding of the folks in Neil's sometime backup band, "Crazy Horse". I understand more what is involved with producing an album, and what impact producer David Briggs had on Neil's work. I now know that Neil's unique sound is the result of an ancient guitar dubbed "Ol' Black".
I now have an idea of who Carrie Snodgrass is, although, to be honest, I think McDonough is very unfair with her, along with Neil's first wife. Neil himself seems to be more even-handed with his ex-wives. McDonough seems to hold any woman in who didn't put up with Neil's shenanigans in contempt.
65 internautes sur 74 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A Whole Lot of "Shakey" Goin' On 26 juin 2002
Par Brian D. Rubendall - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I'm a huge Neil Young fan, with over two dozen of his albums in my collection. But I'm not a fanatic, and as a result I found his biography, "Shakey" to be as stimulating, but as frustratingly erratic as the artist himself. One thing Neil Young could never be accused of is self-censorship, and author Jimmy McDonough writes about him in the same vein, telling in nearly 800 pages a stoory that could have been more succinctly and powerfully conveyed in about half that number. McDonough spent over ten years working on the book, however, and I guess he felt that his huge investment of time justifies the book's length.
The book is a rambling narrative of Young's life, mainly as seen through the eyes of his closest associates, but is told in the Hunter S. Thompson "gonzo" style of journalism as McDonough frequently inserts himself into the story. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this approach, in may have in fact been necessary, but it ends up padding the length. The main story is interspersed with a hundred or so pages of text from McDonough's various interviews with Young in which the artist is quoted verbaitim. It is a fascinating and unprecedented look into Young's mind, but again it starts to become wearing after awhile. Lengthy passages about such relatively uninteresting subjects as Young's passion for model trains slow things down even further.
Ultimately, "Shakey" is likely to be endured only by Young's most ardent fans and will not win the artist any new converts. But I get the feeling that Young would prefer it that way. As McDonough recounts, the quickest way to get Young to drop a song from an album is to tell him its going to be a surefire hit. He is that rare rock star who actually eschews popularity. Young remains a startlingly original talent after nearly four decades in the recording busines and for all of its flaws, "Shakey" manages to capture his essence.
20 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Flawed but fascinating 6 septembre 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This book seems to polarize readers--they usually love it or hate it. I lean toward the former, but it's far from a perfect book. But as a lifelong Neil Young fan, I couldn't put it down, even when it annoyed me. The depth of McDonough's research is impressive, and he comes up with scores of fascinating facts and quotes about Neil's past. I've read books on Young before, and was surprised by how much I *didn't* know about him before reading this book. The accounts of recording sessions--often from David Briggs, engineers, and musicians--provide important insight into the finished products. And they helped me understand why Neil never releases "perfect" albums.
But it's hard to ignore the shift in the tone of the book when the story gets to the point where McDonough entered the picture (late '80s). While earlier in the book the author revealed his opinions on the music, CSNY, Neil's treatment of people in his life, etc., he kept the narrative moving in a relatively objective way. But that gets thrown out the window later, making the book read like two different manuscripts merged awkwardly. The latter part of the book isn't necessarily bad (though I could live without some of the author's more ignorant rants, like saying Pearl Jam is Jethro Tull without the flute), and it's often fun to read his attempts to antagonize Neil by playing devil's advocate, but the more objective biographical account of the first three-quarters of the book is better.
As for Neil the human being--he's an artist, not necessarily a nice person. We already knew that, but this book captures it in much more detail. I came away thinking no less of him (but also no more), but understanding his artistry better. And, his frankness about how the creative muse is not always there is a significant admission that explains some of the weaker periods of his career. For example, though the book was written before their release, I now understand why "Silver and Gold" and "Are You Passionate?" are so tepid compared to his great work--the songwriting well is dry at the moment. Before reading this book, I was positive it was over for Neil...his creative muse was gone for good. Now I'm not so sure. I think it'll come back.
Overall, a worthy book. If you're interested in Neil Young at all, you must read it. You won't love all of it, but it's well worth the time and money.
34 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 A mediocre biography at best 14 juin 2002
Par SteveR - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Although I did enjoy reading a lot of Shakey, I ended up disappointed. The early chapters which describe Neil's battles with polio, his parents divorce, and epileptic seizures I found extremely interesting. Unfortunately once you get to his professional music career, Jimmy McDonough spends more time trying to psychoanalyze what Neil's intentions were instead of just focusing on how things came about. He offers up his personal reviews of albums (many of which I disagree with) that seem like they were taken from his archives as a journalist for Spin magazine. He also picks apart lyrics describing his great interpretation of the heavy symbolism in the songs. Dude, "Homegrown" isn't about man's struggle with the universe, it's about pot! I also found his constant returning to the "Tonight's The Night" album as Neil's greatest accomplishment and the measurment of everything else he's ever done annoying. Also, according to McDonough, Neil Young must be the worst performer of all time since he spends so much time ripping every live performance to shreds describing how out of tune the band was, how much feedback there was, how they couldn't keep the beat, etc. The end of the book finds McDonough complaining to Neil about how much time he's been spending on TV, at the RnR Hall of Fame, at the Academy Awards. Yeah, one thing I hate as a fan is seeing too much of a performer I like! But most of all what I felt the book accomplished was showing Neil as a very unlikeable character. Someone who has temper tantrums, is impossible to work with, doesn't care about the quality of the work he puts out, fires band members on a whim only to call them back years later when he needs to use them, then dump them again, on and on. Well, if you're a Neil fan you may want to check this out, but be aware that at times you will be annoyed.
14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Over and over, again and again 21 juin 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
While I appreciate a book that I cannot rip through in a day, the 800 page Shakey becomes terribly repetitive. The worst part is that, beyond the fact that Neil does some things over and over (we all do), the author starts to write the same things over and over. First, we know McDonough likes Neil's music (OK, at least the few albums with Crazy Horse McDonough returns to, again and again) but is there really no other artist in the universe for whom he can spare a kind or even decent word? It gets tiresome, especially when McDonough often thinks Neil and his latest group/idea are lame -- but everyone else is lamer.
Second, especially as the book drags on, it becomes clear that if only Neil would listen to McDonough everything is his life and career could be so much better.
I really would rather have read more about Neil, and less about McDonough on Neil and how Neil rises above the vast wasteland that is popular culture. I found this McDonough pose particularly tiring -- it is all so very kneejerk, video-killed-the-radio-star, late '80ies.
So, this is a reasonably engaging book, but I walked away thinking a really good editor could have made this a far better read.
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