Neil Young: Special Deluxe

Shakey coasts along nicely in his motorvatin’ memoir.

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Neil Young rightly won acclaim for his candid autobiography Waging Heavy Peace in 2012. Part of its charm lay in its diversions off the beaten biographical path. But Special Deluxe, an affectionate memoir, is a more straight-ahead trip down his life’s highway.

An inveterate boy racer, Young signposts his journey with the Cadillacs, Buicks, Volkswagens and Corvettes that took him from obscurity in Omemee, Canada, to stardom in California. He recalls both his early days ferrying his band The Squires from gig to gig in a hearse called Mort, and bombing around Laurel Canyon in a Mini Cooper while toking on the best Panama Red.

With eco-hindsight, Young rues how much CO2 these trips pumped into the atmosphere, and the final chapters focus on the development of his bio-fuelled baby, the LincVolt. He’s already covered some of this ground, but Young’s direct and honest, and his nostalgia (for 8-track, gas at 27 cents a gallon) is evocative, not syrupy.

Thankfully he never goes full, Clarksonian car bore, and his paintings of his motors are sweet. A comfortable road trip with a famous buddy, entertaining you every mile./o:p

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.