News Roundup: Neil Young, Ben Folds and Nick Hornby, John Prine

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Neil Young is now a comic book character. His likeness appears in “Neil Young’s Greendale,” a new graphic novel out this week via Vertigo, and imprint of DC Comics (we always thought Neil would be more of a Marvel man).

The book was written by Joshua Dysart (who once penned a manga book about Avril Lavigne), and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, who Young insisted on hiring. “I found his Web site, and I sent him an e-mail telling him I was going to wait until hell froze over,” Young tells the New York Times.

The graphic novel revisits the characters from Young’s 2003 album Greendale, which was later turned into a movie. Young was a frequent collaborator on the book, making suggestions and revisions. “I’m happy the story is getting around,” he tells the Times. “I think it’s empowering for young women.”

Ben Folds and rock novelist Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About A Boy) have teamed up to record Lonely Avenue, an album of original songs, or “12 musical short stories,” for Nonesuch Records. The album, which features lyrics by Hornby and music by Folds, is due September 29. According to the press release, the songs “touch on subject matter ranging from a mother with a child in the hospital over New Years Eve to the work of [Rock Hall of Famer] Doc Pomus.”

Conor Oberst, Justin Vernon, The Avett Brothers, and My Morning Jacket are just a few of the artists who cover songwriting great John Prine on Broken Hearts And Dirty Windows: Songs Of John Prine. The album, due June 22 on Oh Boy, is currently streaming on NPR Music as part of their Exclusive First Listen series. Highlights include country crooners Those Darlins singing “Let’s Talk Dirty In Hawaiian” and Old Crow Medicine Show’s revival of “Angel From Montgomery.”

Sometimes a tribute becomes less a salute than a mismatched group of shout-outs,” writes Vernon in the liner notes. “After all the years gone, you wonder if John Prine feels a distance between the songs and the listeners. If these old songs seem folded over by now. But then it’s back to another element of Prine songs — humility. A delicate humility, not to be confused with weakness. And that is how we offer these songs, Mr. Prine: humbly, with gratitude, our tuppence to honor you and your life’s works. Your songs are still here, John, beautifully breathing and beating us up.”

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