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210 × 148 × 17 mm
216 pages
28 illustrations
01 Sep 2015

Neil Young American Traveller Martin Halliwell

When Neil Young left his native Canada in 1966 to move to California, his journey sparked a leap in musical artistry that would come to resonate throughout North America. His fascination with American locations – from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Deep South – profoundly influenced his eclectic musical style and helped to shape the story of his generation. 

Neil Young: American Traveller shows how place looms large in Young’s songs: Los Angeles is seen as the home of uptight business and lost innocence, while San Francisco is seen as the retreat Young needed from the excesses of the music industry. These locations helped craft the singer-songwriter’s distinct style, which led to his popularity as a solo artist and as a member of Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Moving from the Canadian prairies to Young’s adopted Pacific home, Halliwell explores how place and travel affected one of North America’s most prolific recording artists of all time. Alongside discussion of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, the Grateful Dead, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Devo, Pearl Jam and other fellow travellers, he considers how Young’s personal journeys are entwined with a powerful feel for the American landscape. The book spans Young’s career as a singer-songwriter from his musical collaborations to his film projects, recent memoirs and his interest in technologies new and old.

Neil Young: American Traveller will appeal to the many fans of this iconic, challenging, constantly changing musician.

‘Halliwell knows what hes talking about, and writes with real enthusiasm and know-how. . . . Authors of books in which the star subject hasnt 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 theyre 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 doesnt hinge on having the readers approval, and also that he doesnt claim to have some kind of mystical truth of the subject that was overlooked by everyone else.’ — Popmatters

‘All of Neil Youngs changes are expertly accounted for here under the sign of the drifter, with its associated features of mobility, flight, and rootlessness. Martin 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.’ — Gary Genosko, Professor of Communication and Digital Media Studies, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

‘Martin Halliwells study of Neil Young is a superb cultural history and a highly informed piece of music criticism. By situating Youngs songs and films in specific locations, as well as the deterritorialised realms of time and space, Halliwell explores the boundary-smashing nature of a 50-year career that has transformed the history of North American music.’ — Will Kaufman, author of Woody Guthrie, American Radical

‘In a half-century of music, Neil Young has been a sort ofmindful 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, hell nostalgically invoke his Canadian past in a piano ballad and, in another, conjure searing guitar rock about racial injustice in the U.S. If Young creates a musical map of North America in his songs, then Martin Halliwell has done a wonderful job of annotating it. Neil Young: American Traveller is a pithy work thats perceptive to the biographical undercurrents, cultural clashes, and thematic motifs that run through Youngs long, eventful music journey.’ — Kevin Chong, author of Neil Young Nation

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Martin Halliwell is Professor of American Studies at the University of Leicester. He is the author or editor of ten books, including Beyond and Before: Progressive Rock since the 1960s (with Paul Hegarty, 2011) and American Thought and Culture in the 21st Century (with Catherine Morley, 2008).


Introduction: Twisted Road

1. Ontario and Manitoba

2. Los Angeles

3. The Deep South

4. Northern California

5. Dream Traveller

6. Sonic Journeys

Conclusion: Human Highway






Photo Acknowledgements