Shakey by Jimmy McDonough


Neil Young is one of rock and roll’s most important and enigmatic figures, a legend from the sixties who is still hugely influential today. He has never granted a writer access to his inner life – until now. Based on six years of interviews with more than three hundred of Young’s associates, and on more than fifty hours of interviews with Young himself, Shakey is a fascinating, prodigious account of the singer’s life and career. Jimmy McD...

Details Shakey

Release DateMay 13th, 2003
GenreMusic, Biography, Nonfiction, Biography Memoir

Reviews Shakey

  • Barış Alpertan
    Pretty inneresting stuff y'know - heh heh heh...Shakey, aptly named after one of Neil Young's many aliases "Bernard Shakey", is the most comprehensive book ever written, and most likely will ever be written, about the enigma that is Neil Young - the definitive book, if you will, about this Canadian singer/songwriter. Perhaps in an ironic way, the book itself is a literary epitome and reflection of Young's music: it's way too long, has its own ups...
  • Bill
    I'd started out with this in a state of exhilaration, and found myself carrying it in airports, reading it in cabs and generally just gripped by Young's story, but it began to fade for me, just like Young's music can. There was a stretch in his career when I found that every side he laid down was essential stuff, then, like Dylan, he went through a prolonged drought, then he bounced back, and was essential again. Some time ago (six years ago, the...
  • Tim
    If you're a music fanatic there's something about a well written artist biography - you're already familiar with the music and seeing the human side of the artist come through gives you a great deal of insight into your own mental attitudes that can't quite be put into words. The feeling of the music is there. Then you see the human that created it - really see him through good writing. To me all music is highly spiritual. Maybe that's corny but ...
  • Paul Lyons
    Jimmy McDonough does an amazing job going through the ups and downs of a very complicated and unpredictable artist. A good book enthralls you with it's story, while a great book truly inspires you...SHAKEY is a great book, It delves so deep into Neil Young's persona that you truly believe you know him like you know yourself. My understanding and appreciation of Young's music is now not only enhanced, but ingrained in my system. Even the structure...
  • Paul Childs
    I really wanted to like this book, and for the first third of it, I really did. The problem is McDonough is about my age, so by the early 70's he's reviewing the music and putting his personal context on it, instead of putting in a biographical context only. Eventually it starts to read like a book written by Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons. Albums he likes, a qualified okay. Albums he doesn't like (hint; anything to do with CSNY, or just S) Worst...
  • Brian Bess
    Neil Young deserves a better biography than this massive piece of shit. The obnoxious author insists on inserting himself and his less than insightful critical assessments into every step of Neil Young's life. The man possess not one ounce of objectivity. While I have a lot of respect for Neil Young and love many of his earlier songs (which constitute much of what I have heard of him), I have never been a fanatic. This lack of fanaticism has limi...
  • Nicholas Branigan
    if you have any interest in the history of, fate of, or reason for american music in any sense, then you should pick this book up. even if you aren't an obsessive fan of ned young, this is a fascinating insight into a driven maniacs passive aggressive propulsion into super-fame. shakey (n. young's nickname) made moves that alienated him from his fans and friends alike, perhaps not even knowing that he hurt anyone in the process, and came out one ...
  • Greg
    Gave up on page 559. I only persevered that far because I'm a Neil Young fan. Love the music. The book doesn't describe him as a very likeable character, which from all the interviews and such I've read over the years on Young, collectively paints a better and more accurate overview of the man's character as an artist and a person.A book of this length, 778 pages, had to give some interesting details, if one wants to wade through it.
  • Eric
    Being a huge fan of Neil Young, someday I am going to return to this book. This is an enjoyable biography of a true musical master and one not necessarily required for just fans. Though, a fan's appreciation of Young will increase after reading this biography. The book details everything from Young's incredible hearing to his infuriating behavior toward his fellow musicians.
  • John Bastin
    I started reading this book; I found a lot of interesting material here as I read about the life of Neil Young. Unfortunately, despite the good material, this book just goes on and on and on, with the meanderings of an obvious fanboy who really needs the services of a good editor.The book would probably be really interesting at about half its length, but even though reading a biography implies that you're looking for information about the subject...
  • Richard MacManus
    Just finished Shakey, after reading it over a few weeks at night (post blogging, so around 10ish) and in the weekends (particularly on a Sunday, where my habit is to loaf around in bed and in the lounge, reading and eating and drinking tea).I really enjoyed this biography. Firstly it taught me a lot about Neil Young -- real innarestin' character, heh heh. It made me want to explore all his old music, especially the 70's stuff. I've already borrow...
  • Paul
    Well I not really finished, but close enough (I hardly ever use this site now).This is a book that is well worth reading if like Neil Young you like "innaresting characters".It is too long. The author got too close to his subject I think and started to think he was "cool" because of it.A great deal more is revealed about the people around Young than I would have expected. Just as much as a biography it is a (partially unconcious) depiction of obs...
  • Christine Sumption
    I felt compelled to read this book to the end, more out of interest in Young's music than any appreciation of the writing. The book's a mess, cobbled together from lengthy, meandering interviews with Young and his compadres and interspersed with the author's overblown opinions of virtually every recording the guy ever made. It's as if McDonough was trying to find a literary equivalent of Young's don't-rehearse-too-much style, but this doesn't cut...
  • Vinny Peculiar
    Brilliant - lots of little insights into how Neil became Neil...his attention to detail, his demons and his twisted folk rock n roll genius. I'm a massive fan, I've had this book for some time and finally got around to reading it, it was well worth it.
  • Laura Mckellar
    I didn't finish. I've decided, for now,he's better left a mystery.
  • Gangstagal Valdes
    What a great biography. It has everything that happened in his life, since his early years until this moment. Simply a great real life story.
  • Brandon
    Jesus. Three years later, I have finally finished this beast. It's exhausting. But, otoh, it's complete. You definitely get a sense of the dude by the end.
  • Scott
    As a long time hardcore NY fan, I really enjoyed this book. I knew most of the framework from Neil's own writing as well as his father's, but Jimmy McDonough takes a much more thorough look and has collected a fantastic collection of quotes and anecdotes from those who have surrouned NY during his career. In a strict sense, it may not be a "good" biography - McDonough makes little attempt to be objective and freely inserts his own opinions of the...
  • David Drum
    Jimmy McDonough’s Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography, is a masterful, warts-and-all portrait of an elusive singer and musician who does things his way and usually makes it work.The Canadian singer-songwriter with the quavering voice that seems always in danger of breaking was one of the giants of the Sixties, an age when music meant so much to so many. First published in 2002, McDonough’s book is a sharply-etched portrait of the man nicknamed ...
  • Rod Hunt
    A marathon, but a great read. I enjoyed the forensic detail. As the author’s personality and musical judgements emerged more and more over the 740 odd pages I found myself disagreeing more and more. Still, great to get his perspective- even if I thought a lot of it wrong and a bit “insider” exclusive at times. In some ways this is an inspirational book - encouraging self belief and artistic confidence. Any NY fan worth their salt read it lo...
  • Laura
    3.5/5.Interesting but far too long. This book could definitely use some editing. Just because you found someone who went to high school with Neil who knows what color shoes he wore, doesn’t mean you should put it in your book. TMI, Jimmy!I really didn’t like the biographer at all. He’s not the least bit objective, totally dismissive of other artists (unless they’re The Horse!) and comes off as an arrogant douchebag.
  • Barb G
    Over 700 pages long, and I was still sorry for it to end. What an "innaresting" character Neil Young is - not always nice, but definitely a genius. A man who is willing to admit his faults and apologize for his mistakes, but not dwell on them. A crazy inventor. A loving father. A maker of great and not so great music, but always open to trying new things. This book changed my views on music.
  • Stewart Mitchell
    Neil Young is a subject worthy of a thousand biographies, but this one will have to do for now. Not only does it tell most of Young’s messy, scattered life story, it also manages to be a candid and fascinating look into what it’s like to actually know and interview the man. As a big fan, I couldn’t ask for a better book.
  • Cher Lynne
    Long. Innaresting. Because I wasn’t a fan of Young before I read the book it may have been why it took me a long time to read this. Glad I finished it.
  • Shannon DeRespino
    A very good biography from a man who clearly loves the subject. Neil is truly one of a kind.
  • Rob
    Great read for Neil Young fans.
  • Cojuja
    The book is totally great.
  • Chris Nagel
    The butler did it.
  • Cynthia Harrison
    Some really interesting stuff here but sometimes the structure is a little loose. Like when McDonough asks interview questions and simply records pages and pages of responses. He also sometimes goes a bit too far out of topic. Still I am learning so much about NY. It's amazing to see what he had to overcome to get where he is. His first band in L.A.(Buffalo Springfield--or Stephen Stills in particular)would not let him sing his own songs because ...
  • Bruce
    For McDonough, rock is best when it's loud and trouble-making, and he has very little time for the part of Young's oeuvre that I like best. Young, meanwhile, comes across as someone with persistence and talent and other admirable qualities, but not someone you'd want to be close to.