WORTH REPEATING: Old Man Take A Look At My Life


DAVID CARR: In the wake of “Americana,” a collection of folk songs recorded with Crazy Horse that was released last spring, he is already making another album and writing another book, this one about all of the cars he has owned. Roberts handles Young’s business and artistic interests with a great deal of savvy, so Young is good at making money — which helps, because he is also good at making it go away. “I spend it all,” he said. “I like to employ people and make stuff. It will be my undoing.” He has dropped a fortune making films, directing five under the pseudonym Bernard Shakey, including “Rust Never Sleeps,” “Human Highway” and “Greendale,’’ and sharing credit on several others. His memoir is of a piece with his moviemaking impulse, but it’s less pricey.

“Writing is very convenient, has a low expense and is a great way to pass the time,” he says in “Waging Heavy Peace.” “I highly recommend it to any old rocker who is out of cash and doesn’t know what to do next.” He decided to do it sober after talking with his doctor about a brain that had endured many youthful pharmaceutical adventures, in addition to epilepsy and an aneurysm. For someone who smoked pot the way others smoke cigarettes, the change has not been without its challenges, as he explains in his book: “The straighter I am, the more alert I am, the less I know myself and the harder it is to recognize myself. I need a little grounding in something and I am looking for it everywhere.”

Sitting at Alice’s Restaurant on Skyline Boulevard near the end of the day, he elaborated: “I did it for 40 years,” he said. “Now I want to see what it’s like to not do it. It’s just a different perspective.” Drunk or sober, he can be a hippie with a mean streak. He broke off a tour with Stephen Stills without warning and sent him a telegram — “Funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach, Neil.” I asked if he was a good person to work with or for. “The fact is that I can be really irritable when I’m unhappy about stuff,” he said. “I can be a nit-picker about details that seem to be over the top. But then again I’m into what I’m into, so a lot of people forgive me because of that.” In the book, over and over, he is there, and then he is gone — from Buffalo Springfield, from Crosby, Stills & Nash, from his love affairs — and not given to explanations. When he loses interest, he loses interest. MORE

Neil Young live at the Bottom Line 1974.