Neil Young – Special Deluxe: A Memoir Of Life And Cars

Neil Young – Special Deluxe: A Memoir Of Life And Cars

Sharp-eyed KMA Readers will recall that I tried to read Neil’s last book, Waging Heavy Peace, and gave up long before the end was even in sight. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I am a fan of some of his music, so it ought to have at least held my interest long enough to finish the damn thing and not been so frustrating and dull. Nope.

Well, as if that book wasn’t bad enough, here’s another one. Purportedly, this one’s about his love of cars, dogs, and, oh yeah, reminiscences along the way. Well, just like the last book, I started out with the best of intentions of reading the whole thing… but this time I was less forgiving. I very quickly found myself skipping sections, then a chapter, then larger chunks until I ultimately realized it hardly mattered. That was when I set the book down. So Neil likes cars, and dogs (at least it lives up to its dust jacket promises), he had great people fixing unreliable cars for him, and he once found himself in a circle jerk. Pretty heady stuff.

Neil’s Dad was a famous writer, of course. By virtue of this, and of his family being friends with lots of other writers, Neil says (in the introduction) that he figures that this means he ought to be able to do it too. No, Neil, that’s not how that works. My Dad studied advanced chemistry and calculus and was a teacher for over 40 years. Several of our family friends were also teachers that long. That doesn’t mean, because I grew up around them, that I know how to do what they do. Get real.

Forget these rambling, bloated ‘memoirs.’ Neil’s talent, as should be obvious, is in writing songs. And even then, depending on the tune (or even entire album), they are by turns compelling, classic, overwrought, weird, indifferent, and pure crap. With a discography spanning a career as long as his, all of that is probable, nigh on inevitable. But these books, I swear.

I’m really happy for those who think these things are great, that these pages hold deep insights into their hero. Personally, I wouldn’t get quite so excited about any it. And therein lies my real frustration with these books – he’s had such a fascinating life, and these things don’t come close to telling the story like they ought to and it’s sad. There, I said it. Good on him for trying, for using his own words and framing how he chooses, and for doing something instead of nothing. I just don’t think I’m his target audience.

That said, if he keeps this up because he figures he’s on some kind of roll, his next book ought to be about how he loves guitars (duh) and bewbs. I would read that one. Get on it, Neil, it’s time to sew up this trilogy in the making. Les Pauls and bewbs. Go!

I’m so glad I signed this book out of the library instead of actually buying it.

6 thoughts on “Neil Young – Special Deluxe: A Memoir Of Life And Cars

  1. Sarca says:

    My gawd, I have WHP right behind me in the bookshelf. The hubs got it as a xmas gift…
    I also am not interested in reading about cars…I’d rather listen to it (ie, Neil’s Chrome Dreams album). haha!

    Great review, btw. Thx for the warning!


    1. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks Sarca! Remember, these are just my opinion – a certain segment of the Neil Young fanbase would hang on every word in the books. Chacun son gout! But yeah, they didn’t do much for me – I’m with you, the music’s more interesting.


  2. J. says:

    Good grief – this sounds worse than Waging Heavy Peace (I also didn’t get through that one despite trying my very best).


  3. mikeladano says:

    I honestly don’t know anybody I care about so much that I want to read about their cars. LOL EVen my dad tries to get going, “OH son, that was my first car,” etc. And I have never cared about cars, ever! My poor dad.


    1. keepsmealive says:

      Cars (sort of) represent the American dream, they’re the object of a fascination and love affair for a lot of people, and they’re inextricably tied to the culture. It’s why there are so many songs about needing to be out on the open road, or the woman-as-car metaphor, or just flat out about a car. I won’t list them all – it’s endless. And Neil comes from an era where the car you drove represented who you were, in a way, a statement. That he drove a hearse to California might say a lot, then, if you wanna dig deeper… Anyway, car culture still exists, so a lot of people will get off on this stuff. His love of vintage cars would appeal to many.

      I’m with you, though, a car for me is an A to B proposition. I want it to be safe for my family, start reliably, require little repair beyond regular maintenance, and not cost me an arm and a leg. I don’t particularly see the charm in having a car that is in constant need of care – I speak from experience… I owned a pick up truck for a while that was 15 years old when I bought it, and it was like Archie’s car – every time I drove it, parts would fly off…It’s no fun driving a vehicle you’re never sure will get you to your destination. Lesson learned.

      I bought my first car for $1, only because my Dad couldn’t just give it to me, it had to be purchased. My Dad is the same, a car is a vehicle, not an object of obsession. I suppose if I had grown up in a house where cars were always being worked on out in the garage, or someone was in the auto industry, say in sales or as a mechanic, I might have had a different opinion instilled.

      When I was 16, I had a few posters of muscle cars on the wall of my room, because when you’re 16 it’s nice to dream. Also, they generally had bikini babes in them and that was awesome because BIKINI BABES.

      Liked by 1 person

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