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Arts and Entertainment

Book Review: Neil Young - Long May You Run/ The Illustrated History

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With the publication of Long May You Run/ The Illustrated History, the long-standing need for a definitive photo album of Neil Young’s career has finally been met. Though multiple books have been written about the man and his music - including one entitled The Man And His Music - this is the first truly comprehensive visual journal. Authors Gary Graff and David Durcholz have collected some real treasures, including childhood photos, iconic images of Crazy Horse, CSNY and Buffalo Springfield, and a host of concert posters, tour memorabilia and rare foreign 7-inch covers.

The book is nothing if not handsome. The hundreds of images are beautifully reproduced on heavy stock. Among my favorite shots: a shot of a theater audience in 1979 waiting for the movie Rust Never Sleeps to begin, in their special "Rust-O-Vision" glasses, a perfect visual distillation of what Stoner Rock looked like thirty-one years ago. There’s also a touching snapshot of Young on the set of his ill-fated film Human Highway with Dennis Hopper, one of many I’ve never seen before. Aside from a few noticeable gaps - no snaps of the community-theater style stage adaptation of Greendale, one of his most bizarre and unique projects ever - the book does a good job visually capturing the look and feel of the moment, at any point in time over the last fifty years. Whenever Young finally completes his Archives series and catches up to his 2009 work, this book will still make a handy graphic companion.

For those who have already read the handful of key texts about Young and his work, the text is a little light on new information or first-hand accounts, freely quoting from Jimmy McDonough’s definitive biography Shakey and missing any new interviews with Young or his associates. What you end up with is a reasonably thorough and well-written Neil Young For Beginners historical overview, peppered with quotes from famous musicians talking about Neil’s stuff and how it’s inspired them (typical: “I don’t really understand him. And I’ve realized that that’s OK, I don’t have to.” - Charlie Sexton.) The frequent 16 Magazine-style callouts of sub-topics like “Neil’s Female Collaborators”, a retrospective of his work as a film director, and the alleged feud between Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd (thoroughly debunked by Gary Rossington here), are the most intriguing bits, the closest the authors come to finding a story that hasn’t been told before.