To Feel The Music: A Songwriter’s Mission To Save High-Quality Audio
Neil Young & Phil Baker
Neil Young has written three books (so far) and I’m sure there’s the threat of more. He was never going to write a conventional memoir – even though that’s what Waging Heavy Peace technically was, then there was Special Deluxe – a memoir about “Life and Cars” which wasn’t really ever quite focused on either and now this – his treatise on the death of sound quality, and, speaking of death, it’s a very long eulogy to his well-meaning but also bird-brained idea to reinvent the iPod with analog-minded old-school people catered to with a Toblerone-shaped bar that held a fraction of the music but promised better audio at a steeper price.
If someone decided to make a Neil Young Greatest Hits of Memoirs you’d hope that only 2-3 pages of this one made it into the final edit. If Neil Young was making that edit he might – just to say a further fuck you – reprint this whole, boring book with just snapshots from the other two.
And so you love Neil Young for that – if you love Neil Young as I do.
But you have to laugh. And have that extra grain of salt always handy.
Good on him for doing his own thing – as has been the case for most of 50 years.
But To Feel The Music feels like such a lost cause – for what is ultimately a lost cause too. Look, I’m with him on the deterioration of sound quality, but even Film Festival goers have a Netflix account now – and if you cut out watching the credits you can get started on the bonus episode of Tiger King a bit quicker. Convenience is king. We’ve been programmed to think this way – and though I love to watch someone like Neil Young yelling from his sidelines because he’s a wonderful old crank and he absolutely has a point, this book goes nowhere interesting, takes no hurry to do that and is a rather bleak reminder that his project was a huge failure.
It’s co-authored by Phil Baker, who was the chief designer of Neil’s Pono device.
And as the book gets further towards its lumbering, laboured end goal – which is ultimately to work as a giant ad for Neil’s online archives after basically suggesting it was your fault and not his that the whole company and project failed to fully launch – you get the feeling Neil couldn’t even be bothered showing up for his own book.
This is the Stills-Young Band of books.
Did Phil Baker have to eat a peach instead of going on any proposed book-tour?
Neil has never written an On The Beach of a boo. He’s hovered around Ragged Glory or more likely Silver & Gold – and this latest volume is probably his Are You Passionate? of memoirs. We get that Neil is passionate – at least about the erosion of sound quality that the Mp3 and its portable players brought to the world of (casual) music listeners. But he’s fighting down-water from streaming in a vague battle where he’s still aimlessly paddling around in his own lake and occasionally screaming to whoever will listen, “More BARN!”
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