Broken toe spurs Neil Young to write 1st book

Associated Press Modified: October 5, 2012 at 6:46 am •  Published: October 5, 2012
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Young writes movingly about his family and with admiration for son Ben, who is afflicted with severe cerebral palsy. There's a heavy sense of loss, too, for old friends who died like Danny Whitten of Crazy Horse and David Briggs, his record producer. He was clearly rocked when Kurt Cobain's suicide note quoted Young's lyric, "It's better to burn out than to fade away."

The book is not for gossips. Look elsewhere to find out who slept with who or who's feuding. Some of his direct celebrity references are mundane (Linda Ronstadt's fondness for peanut butter), although he couldn't resist a joke about David Crosby's advanced chemical collection.

"I just don't care about it at all," Young said. "Tell all? Tell what? ... I don't like to read it and I don't like to write about it."

Some celebrity references are oddly oblique, like a paragraph about "my friend Paul."

"Paul and I are friends because we both knew and loved Linda, who I met first during Buffalo Springfield days," he wrote. "Linda was a wonderful girl and lady. Today we are in touch periodically and talk about music or whatever. I like Paul a lot."

Wait a minute. Would that be McCartney? (Yes). Does that mean Linda McCartney, whose photo of Young is on the book's back cover, had a pre-Paul romance with Neil? (No).

His editor would occasionally probe Young to reveal more details. Often he'd just say no.

Young said he doesn't read reviews of his music, but he did sneak some peeks at book reviews. They're mixed: Entertainment Weekly called it a "jumbled, slightly surreal narrative that struggles with momentum." The Wall Street Journal called it terrific, "modest, honest, funny and frequently moving."

Young has already written part of a sequel, which he said started out to be about cars and dogs but now is largely about record players. He's not leaving music behind, though. There's a tour with Crazy Horse this fall.

"When music is finished with me, I'll be OK," he said. "Right now I still do it because it seems natural. If it ever comes to the point where I can't do it justice, when I'm not doing my best, then I'll stop."

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Online:

http://neilyoung.com

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EDITOR'S NOTE — David Bauder can be reached at dbauder(at)ap.org or follow him online at http://twitter.com/dbauder.

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