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This review is taken from PN Review 219, Volume 41 Number 1, September - October 2014.

The Songwriter’s Selfie morrissey, Autobiography (Penguin Classics) pb £8.99
neil young, Waging Heavy Peace (Penguin) pb £9.99

These song lyric writers sell more books than any poet, as well as more stanzas. They have a place in the world’s mind that most of us can only dream of. And their lyrics are not without merit. Do their autobiographies prove they are not as limited, or as naïve, as we might think? One thing they do offer is a glimpse into the prosaic side of the singer in the world, which might give a clue to their wide appeal or to their popular talent.

While both have pictures of their authors on the cover with eyes closed, as if looking inward to their own lyrical worlds, like ‘selfie’ self-portraits, they are in many ways opposites. While Moz is, controversially, a Penguin Classic, it is Neil who has the classic status and interests: classic cars feature with alarming and disarming frequency, as do classic rock music, classic early guitars, classic model railways and a classically literary interest in the strangeness of creativity. Neil can write, had a journalist for a father and has had a longer career and is in reflective mode. Although a deliberately and fiercely instinctive songwriter, the book is more than its subtitle, ‘A Hippie Dream’, might suggest, having an interesting formal structure, where the present and the past intersect, and a characteristically witty and self-­deprecatory style throughout. It also has a appreciatory and elegiac sweep of its various and colourful characters. It deserves its good reviews.

Moz had more mixed reviews. This is not to say that he has not also ...


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