Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream
- Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date:
- 04 October 2012
- Music: Styles & Genres
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‘Waging Heavy Peace’ is Neil Young’s 500 page autobiography. He used no ghostwriter or collaborator; he just sat down and started typing in such an easy, conversational style that the reader can imagine themselves sitting down with him in front of a fire, listening to him talk. The book covers his life from childhood to present; his music, his friends, his failed relationships, his children, his fellow musicians, his health (lots of problems), his love of toy trains and big old 1950s and ‘60s cars, and his two current projects: Lincvolt, an old Continental turned into an electric car; and Pono (originally PureTone), a super high quality music system that can be streamed. It’s a bit of a ramble; he jumps from the here and now- what is happening with the Lincvolt project, with Pono- to his early days, starting out in music; then to a reverie about The Horse, as he refers to Crazy Horse, his long time band, which he speaks of as an entity that is more than the people who make it up. He mentions more than once that, on his doctor’s advice, he has quit smoking pot and drinking. His father had dementia, and the doctor has seen a shadowy ‘something’ on a brain MRI. He points out that since he quit, he has not written one bit of music, and you can tell there is some fear there that this dry spell might be more than a spell. But he’s still got lots of projects going; even if he was to never write another note of music he’d still be busy for the next 40 years at least. I do hope that does not turn out to be the case, though! More than once I got lost as to what point in time Young was writing about after a sudden switch, which forced me to go back a couple of pages and see where I’d missed the transition, but it’s small price to pay for this journey through his past. I found the passages about his music the most interesting, how the songs related to things that were going on in his life. He wrote ‘Cinnamon Girl’, ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’, and ‘Down By the River’ in one feverish day while he had a bad case of the flue. Another album was written while he waited for the operation to repair a brain aneurysm. The sheer volume of things Young has accomplished is amazing: all the music, the benefit performances, the Bridge School, Farm Aid, his work on model train advancements, Lincvolt, Pono, creating ways for his quadriplegic son to be included in everything the family does. He is an inspiration. Long may he run.
Neil Young is still going strong. With his entertaining and engaging memoir, he proves he hasn’t burned out or faded away.Neil looks back on his life, the good, the bad, his mistakes and his achievements interspersed with opinions and stories in a stream of conscious manner rather than a chronological life story. He talks about his family, his children, how his father’s influence eventually led him to writing and of course the music. He talks about many influential people within the music industry, most of which I was unfamiliar with, but that more ardent fans will appreciate.He doesn’t shy away from discussing personal issues like his son’s medical problems and relationships with the women in his life. He talks about giving up all recreational drugs and drinking, fearing a resultant loss of creativity, and worries of one day suffering from dementia like his father.I am not always a big fan of the rock star memoir genre often finding them too heavy on the sex, drugs and groupie tales, but this was not like that. Sure, there were some tales of wild parties and drug fueled times, but told in context and not glorified.This was more than just a nostalgic trip back though the 70s and 80s. Not only has Neil Young been an influential musician and a supporter of environmental and philanthropic causes, but he continues to be an influence on the future with his plans to create a better system of audio delivery. He is developing a new method called Pono (originally called Pure Tone) which will deliver studio quality sound. He doesn’t try to hide is distaste for mp3′s low quality, how the shuffle button ruined the album, and how YouTube makes things more difficult for performers. He returns to the topic of music quality a few times throughout the book and if you don’t about Pono by the end, you haven’t been paying attention!Read by Keith Carradine in a conversational tone that matches the stream of consciousness style of writing, the story moves along at a fast pace, keeping the listener engaged. Told in a single voice, this is an easy audio to follow and was a great choice for me while I multitasked around the house. The one criticism I have with audio versions of memoirs is that I miss seeing the photos that are often included in the print book. Some audio versions are now including a pdf file of the photos but sadly this one did not. I did take a look at the print copy and it does have a photo at the beginning of each chapter, many of them from the 70s and 80s, something avid fans would appreciate having.Enjoyable and entertaining, music and memoir fans will find this a satisfying read.
This is a beautiful memoir of a passionate artist. It reads like a letter from a good friend. I think that those who are not familiar with Neil Young's work or those who have never read a series of personal letters might find this format frustrating. However, those who have even loosely followed Young's life and career would probably find it an accurate and tender reflection of the man in his own words. I found the book of great value and inspiring - much like the music that he has so generously shared with us all.
This is Neil's book in his own words and any fan would certianly enjoy reading this book. Neil puts his thoughts down a numerous short chapters jumping from one subject to another. it almost has a fell of Neil interviewing himself. SOme of his main thoughts that continue throughout the book are his large electric car project and his battle to bring back real music sound that he feels was lost with the advent of CDs, MP3s and other digital music. Neil talks a lot about the people in his life and his career. It almost seems as if he is trying to mend some fences as I can't find a negative comment about anyone. It's nice to see how devoted he is to his wife Pegi and his children. Perhaps he is mellowing out in his senior years but is still passionate and grateful for what he has and achieved. I'm a lifelong fan and I hope he writes some more.
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