CSN&Y - two new band biographies

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Powehi
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CSN&Y - two new band biographies

Postby Powehi » 30 Jun 2019, 19:18

Peter Doggett's - as befits the writer of the classic post-break Beatles' post biog, You Never Give Me Your Money - is apparently the meatier of the two titles and covers the band up to Wembley 74. Peter Browne's less forensic biog follows the four up to more or less the present day and is getting a lot of stuck* for lazy editing.

Think I'll probably go for Doggett as his Beatles book was terrific. How about you?


* or even stick - damn this corrective editing feature!
Last edited by Powehi on 01 Jul 2019, 09:52, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: CSN&Y - two new band biographies

Postby Muskrat » 30 Jun 2019, 21:00

How did GoogaMooga miss this opportunity for a thread?

A review of Doggett's book from an Amazon.com member:

What I look for in a biography is a very neutral viewpoint - mostly facts with leeway for some interpretation from a knowledgeable writer. But with CSNY, this felt very much a book written by a friend - someone who knew one or two of the band members and therefore, like a friend, not willing/wanting to hurt their feelings by giving a very honest depiction of events in the past. As well, those who were not deemed as helping the friend will get lambasted - so e.g., Crosby fares well here but Young and Nash do not. It's the nature of friendship but doesn't necessarily make a good book; the bias had to be compensated for by having inside information that a researcher just wouldn't be able to find. I don't know that this book really succeeded there - it is a VERY sympathetic look at especially Crosby and Stills but definitely not so for Nash and Young.

A reader will get this impression of the band after reading this book: Crosby is a loveable little scamp with an incredible voice who adored women and became ensnared by drugs, Stills is a multi-instrumental genius who creates masterpieces, singls like an angel, and the leader of the band. Nash is wishy washy and a milquetoast who spent most of life bemused, and Young is the biggest jerk on the planet who is so selfish, he lives to ruin others lives and livelihoods. In reading the competing biography, Crosby comes off as a womanizer and damaged - needing drugs first to assuage and then to hide from life. Stills is demanding, difficult, and alcohol made it nearly impossible to work with him, Nash didn't like the drama and tried to tread the middle as much as possible to mitigate it, leading to bursts of anger and vicious words at bad times, and Young didn't want to deal with the drugs and personalities, had the complication of a disabled son requiring full time care, and shifting priorities that meant he was completely unpredictable and impossible for anyone to work with for any extended period of time.

Since this is focused on that two year period when CSNY got big, you'll find a lot more in here about their lifestyles and the people moving around them like satellites. The author gives many different accounts of the same situation (drugs/alcohol meant that most remember the time differently) but then he also gives a lot of opinions throughout, either making conclusions on what really happened or flat out guessing why someone did/said something they did. Some readers will appreciate the opinions/speculation but others may prefer a biographer to just stick either the facts or the statements, without trying to interpret them.

What the book did well is to really make Stills and Crosby personable and like your best buddy - you feel like you were one of their friends during this time period in their life. Life in Mulholland and Laurel Canyon in the 1970s/1960s is richly realized - and it was fascinating to read about all the people who floated in and out of the scene when the band got together (be it at Mama Cass' house or at one of the band's homes). And events of the time, such as the death of Crosby's girlfriend in an accident, are richly detailed rather than a passing comment. As such, it does feel like you are looking from the inside out or talking with someone who was touring with the band and knew them well. But I think it is important to be aware of the limitations of seeing things from the inside - it's hard to really gain a clear perspective on the subject. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
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Re: CSN&Y - two new band biographies

Postby Matt Wilson » 01 Jul 2019, 02:57

Reading Brown's book now. Interesting, as always, but not a whole lot which is new. I still say these guys could've been the biggest band of the '70s had they never gone solo/duo. At least through 1977.

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Re: CSN&Y - two new band biographies

Postby Powehi » 01 Jul 2019, 09:51

Thanks for digging out the review, Musky. If Doggett's book is half as good it will be great. Hardly surprising that he's focused on Cros and Stills as GN did his own book a couple of years ago and NY's peccadilloes are widely known (Bernard McDonagh's Shakey*). As both Cros and Stills tend to be painted as the villains of the CSNY story, I'm sure they were only too happy to dish the dirt on their erstwhile bandmates.

Read in one review that Browne's book goes all the way up to the end - apparently it came in 2015 when GN and DC engaged in fisticuffs after CSN's toe-curling version of Silent Night at Obama's 2015 Xmas light turning on ceremony. The aural equivalent of CSN's awful Live It Up cover, the clip is up there on YouTube where one comment describes the one-time rock gods as looking like "three down and outs passing a bottle of thunderbird wine around a street corner brazier".


* Let's not mention NY's atrocious Waging Heavy Peace

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Re: CSN&Y - two new band biographies

Postby C » 01 Jul 2019, 10:06

Thanks for the heads up




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Re: CSN&Y - two new band biographies

Postby Powehi » 01 Jul 2019, 10:55

C wrote:Thanks for the heads up




.


While each hardback costs £25, you can buy both e-books for around £22.

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Re: CSN&Y - two new band biographies

Postby C » 01 Jul 2019, 13:13

Powehi wrote:
C wrote:Thanks for the heads up




.


While each hardback costs £25, you can buy both e-books for around £22.


Robust stuff!

[or support your local library...]






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Re: CSN&Y - two new band biographies

Postby Sneelock » 16 Jul 2019, 17:36

I've been grazing the Dogget. I'll admit it's more "inside baseball" than some of these things are but it's written in the time honored "rock journalist" style which makes me go ZZZZZZZZZZ unless it's done really well.

I'll say this, his versions of these well known personalities are starting to get up and walk around the room. that's no small thing.
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Re: CSN&Y - two new band biographies

Postby Matt Wilson » 17 Jul 2019, 03:39

I've been reading the Browne for the past few weeks and it's excellent. You feel like you know these guys and my appreciation for the music has actually grown (as it does every time I read a good music bio). Can't believe they're all still alive. Especially Croz.