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Waging Heavy Peace

By Neil Young
Viking an imprint of Penguin Books

Neil Young’s autobiography Waging Heavy Peace is a journey through his life written by the man who has lived it… Much like a conversation with Young could be. He may not tell you all the things you want to hear or are dying to know. Instead like most of us he chooses to talk about what he is interested in right now…

This book is more about now and the future than it is about the past and it seems Young has a lot he wants to do in the coming years, including a new crazy horse album.

Written in no particular order it is like reading a journal of reminiscences and future ideas and plans rather than a story about someone’s life that has a beginning, middle and end…But Neil Young doesn’t need to stick to conventions and the reader gets a better understanding for the man than if a ghost writer had written it.

Young is a music legend who seems at times to struggle with that tag.

“There is nothing like having no preconceptions to live up to or down. Today my past is a huge thing. Everybody has an expectation of what I should do. There comes a time when these things start to get in one’s way. Expectations can block the light. They can shadow the future, making it more difficult to be free-flowing and creative. I need to find that freedom again today if I want to fly.”

In his late 60’s Young speaks throughout the book of a desire to tie up “loose ends” finishing all the unfinished projects. His model trains. His unrestored classic cars and also searching for relevance in this world by making new music and touring that new material rather than just going out and playing his “hits and misses”.

One of those loose ends is Pure Tone or Pono, Young’s move to get people to beginning to hear the music in the quality that it was meant to be heard, not the highly compressed MP3 format…thus the title of the book from being asked if he is waging war against apple to which Young replied “No I am waging heavy peace”

Another recurring theme throughout the book is Young’s sobriety. Having given up smoking Marijuana and drinking alcohol he is placed in the position of feeling better but just being unable to connect with his “muse” on any level…the songs just refuse to come.

On success he has a few thoughts that he chooses to share

“I know I have been thankful for the things I have been able to try. Success is hard to measure. If you have lost of cash, that doesn’t make you successful it makes you rich. (Even if you’re like me and have lost of stuff and not much cash relatively, that doesn’t make you a success; it only makes you materially rich)”

This is a story about a man who has “seen some really happy and content people in this life, and I am not one of them all the time, just some of the time, but I am thankful as hell for them and lonely for the old times and old friends.”

Neil Young has written some wonderful, deeply moving and truly rocking music that will remain part of the history of western culture it hasn’t all been a charmed life and smooth sailing and his story ends heading back to Los Angeles with “Family Business on the agenda”

At times throughout this book you love Young convinced he is a big teddy bear who needs a hug at other times he seems a bit grumpy like when he talks about not wanting to be hassled, especially by professional “autograph hunters” – how he can differentiate the real fan or a collector is very difficult but there is a simple answer for Young here

  • Always dedicate autographs “To (whoever)…Neil Young giving the item no resale value
  • Sell signed photographs on your website $10 a pop killing the market.
  • Signed guitars $2000 each to raise funds for the bridge school etc..

For most of us this would be the least of our problems.

Interestingly there is a slip cased signed limited edition of just 1500 copies for sale through Penguin for $500 or you can get one personally inscribed for $1500 to support The Bridge School…..a little ironic.

This is an enjoyable book whether you are a true fan or just a casual observer and what makes it so enjoyable is its authenticity….It really feels like Neil Young speaking through the pages even if his motivation for doing so is questionable.

“ I do enjoy writing, and I hope someone gets something interesting out of this book…Writing is very convenient, has a low expense and is a great way to pass the time. I highly recommend it to any older rocker who is out of cash and doesn’t know what to do next.”

Waging Heavy Peace is out now through Penguin Books RRp $39.95 BUY HERE

The limited edition book can be purchased here BUY HERE

The personally inscribed book can be purchased here BUY HERE