Neil Young: American Traveller by Martin Halliwell
September 2015 (UK) & October 2015 (North America)
When Neil Young left Canada in 1966 to move to California, it was the beginning of an extraordinary musical journal that would leave song after song resonating across the landscapes of North America. From “Ohio” to “Albuquerque,” Young’s fascination with America’s many places profoundly influenced his eclectic style and helped shape the restless sensibility of his generation. In this book, Martin Halliwell shows how place has loomed large in Young’s prodigious catalog of songs, which are themselves a testament to his storied career as a musician playing with bands such as Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse, and, of course, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Moving from the Canadian prairies to Young’s adopted Pacific home, Halliwell explores how place and travel spurred one of the most prolific creative outputs in music history. Placing Young in the shifting musical milieus of the past decades—comprised of artists such as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, the Grateful Dead, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Devo, and Pearl Jam—he traces the ways Young’s personal journeys have intertwined with that of American music and how both capture the power of America’s great landscapes.
Spanning Young’s career as a singer-songwriter—from his many bands to his work on films—Neil Young will appeal not just to his many fans worldwide but to anyone interested in the extraordinary ways American music has engaged the places from which it comes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
MARTIN HALLIWELL is Professor of American Studies at the University of Leicester. He has written widely on contemporary American literature, US cultural and intellectual history, and his recent books include Beyond and Before: Progressive Rock since the 1960s (New York: Continuum, 2011, co-authored with Paul Hegarty) and Therapeutic Revolutions: Medicine, Psychiatry, and American Culture, 1945-1970 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013).
Gary Genosko, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
“All of Neil Young’s changes are expertly accounted for here under the sign of the drifter, with its associated features of mobility, flight, and rootlessness. Halliwell unfolds a detailed map stretching from Thunder Bay to Topanga Canyon of a musical career with plenty of scenic drives and detours. Neil Young: American Traveller beckons us to stick out our thumbs and hitch a ride on the ongoing journey.”
Will Kaufman, author of Woody Guthrie, American Radical
“Halliwell’s study of Neil Young is a superb cultural history and a highly informed piece of music criticism. By situating Young’s songs and films in specific locations, as well as the deterritorialised realms of time and space, Halliwell explores the boundary-smashing nature of a fifty-year career that has transformed the history of North American music.”
Kevin Chong, author of Neil Young Nation
“In a half-century of music, Neil Young has been a sort of ‘mindful drifter,’ offering wistful glimpses of the North American landscape from the tour bus window or behind the wheel of a retired hearse. In one moment, he’ll nostalgically invoke his Canadian past in a piano ballad and, in another, conjure searing guitar rock about racial injustice in the US. If Young creates a musical map of North America in his songs, then Halliwell has done a wonderful job of annotating it. Neil Young: American Traveller is a pithy work that’s perceptive to the biographical undercurrents, cultural clashes, and thematic motifs that run through Young’s long, eventful music journey.”
“Halliwell knows what he’s talking about, and writes with real enthusiasm and know-how. . . . Authors of books in which the star subject hasn’t been in direct contact with the writer in interviews, and trying to get to get to the bottom of things face-to-face, really have to know what they’re on about, lest the books become a Hades of hazy speculation and guesswork. Halliwell avoids this problem by truly, relentlessly knowing his stuff. It also helps that he writes in a way that doesn’t hinge on having the reader’s approval, and also that he doesn’t claim to have some kind of mystical truth of the subject that was overlooked by everyone else.”