Shakey: Neil Young's Biography

Front Cover
Vintage Canada, 2003 - Rock musicians - 786 pages
123 Reviews
Neil Young is one of rock and roll’s most important, influential and enigmatic figures, an intensely reticent artist who has granted no writer access to his inner sanctum -- until now. In Shakey, Jimmy McDonough tells the whole story of Young’s incredible life and career: from his childhood in Canada to the founding of folk-rock pioneers Buffalo Springfield; to the bleary conglomeration of Crazy Horse and simultaneous monstrous success of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; to the depths of the Tonight’s the Night depravity and the strange changes of the Geffen years; and Young’s unprecedented nineties “comeback” with Ragged Glory and Harvest Moon. No detail is spared -- not the sex, drugs, relationships, breakups, births, deaths, nor the variety of chameleon-like transformations that have enabled Young to remain one of the most revered musical forces of our time.

Shakey (the title refers to one of Young’s many aliases) is not only a detailed chronicle of the rock era told through the life of one uncompromising artist, but the compelling human story of a lonely kid for whom music was the only outlet; a driven yet tortured figure who learned to control his epilepsy via “mind over matter”; an oddly passionate model train mogul who -- inspired by his own son’s struggle with cerebral palsy -- became a major activist in the quest to help those with the condition.

Based on interviews with hundreds of Young’s associates (many speaking freely for the first time), as well as extensive exclusive interviews with Young himself, Shakey is a story told through the interwoven voices of McDonough -- biographer, critic, historian, obsessive fan -- and the ever-cantankerous (but slyly funny) Young himself, who puts his biographer through some unforgettable paces while answering the question: Is it better to burn out than to fade away?

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
58
4 stars
36
3 stars
22
2 stars
5
1 star
2

The problem is the prose. - Goodreads
ok, so the writing here is not stellar. - Goodreads
Way to go with imagery, Neil!) - Goodreads

Review: Shakey: Neil Young's Biography

User Review  - Chrisinspace - Goodreads

Jimmy McDonough is as much a character as his subjects. Easily the best bio of NY. Read full review

Review: Shakey: Neil Young's Biography

User Review  - Brandon Daviet - Goodreads

Excellent read for a bio, but Young's self penned book Waging Heavy Peace is better. Read full review

About the author (2003)

Jimmy McDonough is a journalist who has contributed to such publications as Variety, Film Comment, Mojo, and Spin. Perhaps best known for his Village Voices profiles of such artists as Jimmy Scott, Neil Young, and Hubert Selby, Jr., he is also the author of The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Milligan. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Bibliographic information