Neil Young: Long May You Run is subtitled The Illustrated History, an important part of the title of this new unofficial biography of the rock and roll legend. Released this past May, the book spansYoung’s entire career, from his childhood in Winnipeg, Canada to his prolific work with Buffalo Springfield, CSNY, Crazy Horse, and every band in between to his collaborations in the grunge era with Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam to his upcoming summer tour.
Many of the quotes and interviews found within the book’s well laid out and beautifully printed pages are things you may have read before – it appears that the writers did very few interviews of their own, instead relying on previously published material. That doesn’t necessarily take away from the impact or interest of the biography, but it does leave you wondering if their access was limited. There are some interesting accounts in the book that deal with the mythology and musical connections of Young: the Bob Dylan-Neil Young connection (apparently, Dylan thought “Heart of Gold” cut a bit too close to his own work), Young’s original touring car – a hearse he called Mortimer Hearseburg, a rumored feud with Lyrnyrd Skynyrd over Young’s Southern posturing, and, most interestingly, Young’s early connection with the man soon to be known as Rick James – the two played in a band together for a short time in the ’60s. There is also an interesting account of Young’s problems with seizures early in his life, which one can’t help but compare to Joy Division’s Ian Curtis’ battles with a similar malady. Fortunately, for Young, things turned out much better.
Ultimately, the real bread and butter of the book are its pictures – concert pics, childhood snapshots, concert and movie posters, postcards, you name it. Long May You Run is an interesting read, but it’s also a good coffee table book, filled with enough visual stimuli to interest even a casual Young fan like myself with its rich photographic history.
Neil Young – Long May You Run: The Illustrated History is available from Voyageur Press.