Harvey Kubernik: Neil Young – Heart Of Gold

Another through-the-years take on Shakey.

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It’s true that the hagiographical reverence in which Young is held can get wearying – this, after all, is a man who has made countless flaccid albums since his great 70s ones. Former A&R man Kubernik’s biography, however, settles into a relaxed tone as mellow as a Laurel Canyon incense stick, and is a comforting rise-to-glory routine.

He’s previously published books on the West Coast scene, The Beatles and Leonard Cohen. Like the last, this is structured to a timeline, with an oral history and copious photos fleshing out the bones. The witnesses testifying here include Graham Nash, Nils Lofgren, Richie Furay, Jack Nitzsche, Jim Jarmusch and Kim Fowley.

Mostly they tell us how Young’s creativity marches to the beat of his own drum, you can’t tell him what to do, and so on. No revelations or myth-puncturing there. But Kubernik is pleasantly at ease in the golden glow of the never-sleeping rust. Languid, laid-back, light reading.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.