At one time, I was very “into” memoirs. In fact, one semester , I had my students do a “memoir project” as part of their course requirements, reading then reviewing a memoir. The students actually enjoyed this assignment, and the culminating memoir they wrote from their own life was very interesting, and in some cases inspiring. One would not necessarily use “inspiring” as a term for the heavy rock n’ roll legend Neil Young, but his memoir was one that was revealing, an indicator of the glory days of rock n’ roll, and even uplifting at moments.

Hard-singing, hard-playing, hard-living Neil Young’s music was the last thing from my mind as an uptight, judgmental, hard-working, low-paid, “green” teacher of the seventh and eighth grade kids who appreciated his sound. I remember them talking about Buffalo Springfield and their special albums that only teenagers understood.

An honest assessment of his life by a legend in his time.

The 2012 hardback showed up in a box of “donations” left on my back porch for my LFL (Little Free Library). Picking it out as an “I might like to look at this one” volume, I placed it on my TBR shelf and finally began to read it last week. I had planned to scan it, to skim through it, but I was caught up in the honest, no-holds-barred writing of the author. He wrote of events and performances I vaguely was aware of during the 70s, but it was a “whole other world” that had no place or meaning in my life at the time. I googled many of the groups, performers, and songs mentioned in this fairly thick tome, and I received a basic outline/education of rock n’ roll in its heyday.

To give an example of the good writing in this book, I turn to chapter 64: “Walking in the forest for me is like going to church. It is my cathedral…” Contrasting this with the exciting highs of causing along at 45 miles per hour listening to music, wondering if the cop you see will figure out you are high on cocaine as you drive, the author describes the many tickets and arrests the group received, which are balanced by the many times they “outsmarted” or outran the cops pursuing them. Many of his contemporaries of the 70s’ names were dropped, and the stories and collaborations about and with them were interesting. The actual cutting of albums, the way they happened, what happened during the recordings, and the last minute changes and substitutions to original plans were nothing short of fascinating.

Young was inducted into the R & R Hall of Fame in 1995 as a solo artist and again in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield. Other groups he recorded with include Crosby Stills and Nash , Crazy Horse, and others.

Toward the end is a description of where he is when the book is published: “I have been clean now for seven years. That is a good, long time. I still feel cravings. Maybe I’d like a beer, maybe a joint…I haven’t written a song in more than half a year, and that is difficult for me…I always wrote when I was high before.” He has lived out his latter years quietly on The Broken Arrow Ranch involved in such philanthropic efforts as Farm Aid and The Bridge, a special school for special individuals with special needs.




This challenge was issued by the bloggers at Hot Listens and The Caffeinated Reviewer.  I became aware of it on Carla Loves to Read, who posted that she was participating. Recently, I finished The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce. This author also wrote The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a book I loved so much I recommended it to our Third Tuesday book club.

The Music Shop is set in 1988 London, and it was fun comparing the culture and situations to “my” 1988, here across the pond.  One thing is for sure, human nature and the complexities in relationships are universal and timeless!

Frank, the shop’s owner, a burly, bearded, bear of a man, has a “gift” for “prescribing” (my term) just the right piece/selection of music someone needs; sometimes not what the customer thinks he wants. Because Frank has lost his first wife, he is terrified of real closeness/connectedness. When Elsa Brachman, a mysterious, attractive woman, with a German accent, enters his shop and promptly faints, neither recognizes the attraction they have for each other for what it is. These quirky characters’ relationship grows through the novel, as each makes bad choices and acts based on assumptions and miscommunications.

The small shop which carries only vinyls in a CD society “attracts the lonely, the sleepless, and the adrift” which make up the cast of characters in this warm, often humorous, always “touching” story.  The narrator is spot-on and conveys each character vividly to the reader. One feels the “healing power of music” as the sometimes familiar-to-the-listener pieces of music are mentioned, as Frank matches them to customers. The listener indeed feels “healed” by the epilogue at the end. There is only one word which would describe the ending of this audiobook–joyful!