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Special Deluxe: A Memoir of Life & Cars

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  726 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Neil Young’s first memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, was an international bestseller and critical sensation. The Wall Street Journal wrote that it was “terrific: modest, honest, funny and frequently moving,” while The New York Times found it “as charismatically off the wall as Mr. Young’s records.” Now, in Special Deluxe, Young has fashioned a second work of extraordinary remini ...more
Hardcover, 383 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Blue Rider Press (first published October 7th 2014)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  726 ratings  ·  113 reviews


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Ashley Daviau
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Waging Heavy Peace but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read nonetheless! Neil Young has a way with words, whether it’s in novel or in song form, that man knows how to write beautifully and draw you into a story or song. I’m no car person but I especially enjoyed the little side stories about his cars and the gorgeous illustrations to show us what they looked like, I thought it was an excellent addition to the book. I also really loved learning more about Neil’s ...more
Bjorn
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: canada
Neil's second memoir in just a few years. Do we really need two books on the life of an aging - if occasionally still brilliant - rocker, both written within months of each other? Especially when Waging Heavy Peace was quite good, but also a bit unfocused?

Well, sort of. Special Deluxe is a much more straight-forward autobiography than the predecessor, in that Neil uses cars that he or his family have owned through the years as signposts for changes in his life, from a small town in Canada to sup
...more
Ron S
Aug 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Written with a laid back style that comes across like a favorite, somewhat crotchety uncle reminiscing on a front porch with a beer, Young talks mostly about the cars in his life in this second installment of his memoirs. The obsessive repetition over PONO that may have turned some readers off in the first volume is absent here, which doesn't mean this is a typical kiss and tell rock 'n roll story either. But in talking about the cars in his life Young manages to tell us a lot about the times he ...more
Greg
Chapter Forty, the last, a chapter of such important message and example, puts it on its own, making the preceding three hundred and thirty pages enjoyable ephemera in comparison, not out of context in its easy ride to the last chapter.

Special Delux is somewhat of an inadvertent portrait of the philosophy of excess of the American Dream, exemplified in the large, heavy gas guzzlers of the 20th Century.
Mark Jones
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Life: 4/5. Cars: 2/5.
Micaylah G
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Whew what a ride!

Although Neils 2nd book doesnt leave off where the first ended, it is a story unto its own. Again it is like sitting have a conversation with a very complex gentleman. The first few chapters though had me thinking that I had gone to an Autorama, not an activity I would normally do. At all!

But it was Neil Young and so I pushed forward. Was I ever glad I did, as I discovered something I think I will never forget now. If you want to know what that is, jump down to my last two sente
...more
Gary Lang
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
So Neil Young has written another book. In “Waging Heavy Peace” he wandered around in a fog of new-found sobriety, talking about his high definition Pono business, talked a little bit about some of his cars – apparently only scratching the surface; the guy is a car hoarder – and a little bit about his growing up in Canada.

After reading these two books and going through his Archives Vol. 1, which was released in Blu-ray with a faux-leather book of lyrics and photographs, and reminiscences, I get
...more
Sharry
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I experienced some trepidation prior to reading this book. I had enjoyed Neil Young's first memoir, "Waging Heavy Peace," despite the absence of any sort of chronological order and his repetitive remarks about Pono. His unique voice came through loud and clear. I was worried that "Special Deluxe" might contain too many technical details about cars that would bog down the narrative.
I needn't have worried. I was totally charmed by Neil's follow-up memoir. This time around his story is told in a mo
...more
Simon Sweetman
Oct 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Another sometimes interesting, often shambolic and mildly fascinating memoir from Neil Young. You've got to love him in all his stubbornness - or not, I guess? There's some interesting yarns about the music - about songwriting, where the lyrics/songs came from - in and around tall tales of cars and gigs. It's meandering as fuck - but then, Neil Young fans will sit through Old Ways and Landing on Water to get to Ragged Glory and Sleeps With Angels. This is no Freedom, probably more like "Life" or ...more
Marlene
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Organized better than his first memoir, this memoir explains his love of cars and appreciation for the environment. I appreciated his explanation for his Anti-Tar Sands tour in 2014 which received much media attention (mostly negative, unfortunately). Also this memoir indirectly explained his new relationship with Darryl Hannah (his pending divorce from Pegi caught me by surprise because he highly praised his wife in his memoir from the previous year.)

Now that Neil Young has satisfactorily expl
...more
Steve Peifer
Oct 18, 2014 rated it liked it
If this was written by an unknown no one would care and no one would ever finish it. Maybe you have to be a car guy to get it. I still like his music but the more i get to know him the less I like him. What he calls following his muse sounds suspiciously like an indulged selfish narcissistic jerk. Who ever thought David Crosby would have the high moral ground on anything?
Loring Wirbel
Nov 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Although this odd little memoir only gains a middling ranking, there are portions of Special Deluxe that are more fun to read than Neil's definitive memoir Waging Heavy Peace. Let's face it, Neil is a rambler who will never give us a sequential life timeline, but we (casual observers as well as fans) wouldn't have it any other way. What defines this book is not the detailed descriptions of classic cars and the accompanying watercolor paintings, but the way Young uses cars to flesh out parts of h ...more
Peter O'Connor
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Imagine if you finally met someone as interesting as Neil Young and all he wanted to do was talk about cars. That is kind of this book in a nutshell. Special Deluxe uses his ownership of different cars at different periods of his life to act as a vehicle (see what I did there?) for telling elements of his life story. Having a foot in both the automobile camp as well as the rock memoir camp isn't a bad idea in itself but in this case, the book doesn't really scratch either itch. The cars he talks ...more
Taylar
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook, which I really enjoyed because Neil Young reads it. I don't think I would have enjoyed it quite as much; nothing really stellar about the writing. I really enjoyed his stories and life told through the lens of his cars. This is about Young's life but also about the cars, people, and influences in his life. He slips in some politics, some stories, and a lot of weed smoking. I learned a lot about Young as a person - he is very honest about himself and has clearly done ...more
Mary
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Audio. I really enjoyed this book and I really enjoyed hearing it read by the author. The tone felt refreshingly honest. A pretty normal guy who's led a pretty interesting life telling stories about some of the things he is passionate about, including cars and climate change. ...more
Amos
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Having not read his previous autobiographical book, I enjoyed learning about this timeless rockers formative years and beyond in this memoir that ties each memory told to a car purchased by him or his father (both car fanatics, tho Neil is by FAR the greater). While I enjoyed these tales, it did seem peculiar that anytime a subject started to get deep, or an internal examination got close to revealing true meaning, he would instantly write "but I don't want to get into that" and end the chapter. ...more
Lindsay
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, unique
Neil's second memoir is as heartwarming as his first. This time his life is viewed through his love of old vintage cars he has bought and his relationships with them. I loved how he talked about his road trips and told us the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by each trip. Stories of cars and what he was doing with his music at the time was more of what I wanted to hear. I am a big fan of Neil's and have been to his concerts when he has appeared in Winnipeg. This book is a must read ...more
Sonia
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great book, I really enjoyed it...it was humorous at times and kept my interest throughout the whole story. I found myself wishing that Young could have went into more intimate details about his life, but I also respected his privacy. I'm not really a car person. I just want to make sure mine isn't going to break down on me, but I found his information on all the different types of cars really enjoyable. It also made me think seriously about the topics he brought up towards the ending. I feel ...more
Chris Bertagnole
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I liked the last book, rambling mess that it was. That said, there is a better focus and chronology to this one, and he relates his life through memories of the car du jour. And, just like the last one, there is the gushing over Pegi, the appearance of Daryl Hannah in the second book and the reality of the situation makes things a little unsettling, but, that, as they say, is none of my affair. Drive On.
Joseph Spuckler
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
Special Deluxe: A Memoir of Life and Cars by Neil Young


Anyone who knows me, knows I have a strong dislike for cars. It is not the car but more so the worship of the car. People playout their lives on around cars. Who is driving? Where can we park? How much is parking? How much is gas? We also design our cities and suburbs around cars. Newer housing developments don’t have sidewalks, merely a concrete path from the front door to the curb where you park your car. The corner store and the idea of a
...more
Doctor Moss
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This (after Waging Heavy Peace) is the second of Neil Young’s two recent autobiographies. Waging Heavy Peace was more of a straight-forward biography, although not told strictly chronologically (or strictly anything else, really). This one takes an unusual angle — a life told by way of associations with cars.

Neil Young loves cars. He has strong memories of cars from his youngest days. In fact, it seems as though his car-collecting, and his love of older cars throughout his life, is a kind of att
...more
Doug
Feb 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Since I first heard Neil Young's music, I have been a fan. Considering the amount of Neil Young product and the number of times I have seen him live solo and with other variations, I would probably be considered a fanatic. I know my wife is sick of hearing the intro music to Shakey Pictures productions.

David Briggs produced the majority of Neil's albums prior to his untimely death. I feel that Neil benefitted from Briggs, what I assume was his ability to edit and push Neil more than anybody else
...more
David
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Both of Neil’s books are good, but this one is much more organized. Unlike the first memoir Waging Heavy Peace, Special Deluxe is mostly chronological and organized rather than a scattershot recollection of significant memories.

There is a fair amount of overlap with WHP, but not enough to deter fans from reading both. Neil’s illustrations are also dope, and as a younger reader its pretty cool to read about his collection of cars as he ties them to a memory of music, friends or family. Its the o
...more
Michael
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Neil takes a refreshing tack in penning an autobiography, centering on the automobiles and the dogs that have passed through his life, and coming to the conclusion that his carbon-fueled ways must come to an end, he relates his story of the crusade to put LincVolt on the road to D.C.. An engaging work that I had no difficulty in reading from end-to-end. I don't know if I like Neil Young more now as a person but I do respect his honesty in delving into the unhappy aspects of his life as well as t ...more
Scott
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you're a Neil Young fan and a car fan (I am unabashedly both), this is a very entertaining read. If you've read other bio/autobio books on Neil, there won't be a lot of major surprises, but it takes a very different, more introspective look at Young's relationship with cars, with the emotions he connects to them, and a lot of interesting connections to events in his life and career. He's a lot more open about his strengths and failings here - relationships, bands, projects that didn't get off ...more
Kristen
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies
An interesting twist on a telling one's story through their cars. Neil Young has owned numerous vehicles and with each one of course comes a story or two. From childhood to present day, this book not only touches on different parts of his life, but how the cars impact the environment through their output. While enjoyable, this won't be a book I will re-read. ...more
Lisa Tollefson
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Who knew Young could write? It's maybe a bit rambling, but what a book! This book, read by the author, takes us through a life shaped nearly as much by cars as by music. I love how he solves the dilemma of loving big American (or Canadian) gas guzzlers while being deeply committed to environmental responsibility. Read it to find out how. ...more
Eric
Feb 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, but at times wondered if I wasn't listening to the ravings of a stoner. His early life in Canada was the most lucid. As his guilt about his carbon footprint took on ever greater importance he became preachy along with being sometimes incoherent. His car collection sounds awesome and may a reflection of his carbon guilt, or its cause. ...more
Bart Hill
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Neil is an obsessed man. First with cars, then music, and later with clean-energy. This book isn't a biography or a "Behind the Music" style of book. It's mostly anecdotes and stories about the variety of vehicles he's owned and along with these stories, he tells us a bit about his life, his dogs, his music, and other topics. We're just along for the ride. ...more
Nicole
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, books-i-quit
A really great book to read when you have nothing to do outside on a nice day and are in a good mood. Try reading it any other time and the pacing might drive you crazy. It’s like having a conversation with an elder. Relaxing and interesting but if you’re not in the right headspace you will lose the patience so necessary to appreciate the beauty of the mundane.
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Neil Percival Young OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and film director.

Young's work is characterized by deeply personal lyrics, distinctive guitar work, and signature nasal tenor (and frequently alto) singing voice. Although he accompanies himself on several different instruments—including piano and harmonica—his style of hammer-on acoustic guitar and often idiosyncratic sol
...more

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