Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream [NOOK Book]

Overview

“I think I will have to use my time wisely and keep my thoughts straight if I am to succeed and deliver the cargo I so carefully have carried thus far to the outer reaches.” --Neil Young, from Waging Heavy Peace



Legendary singer and songwriter Neil Young’s storied career has spanned over forty years and yielded some of the modern era’s most enduring music. Now for the ...
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Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream

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Overview

“I think I will have to use my time wisely and keep my thoughts straight if I am to succeed and deliver the cargo I so carefully have carried thus far to the outer reaches.” --Neil Young, from Waging Heavy Peace



Legendary singer and songwriter Neil Young’s storied career has spanned over forty years and yielded some of the modern era’s most enduring music. Now for the first time ever, Young reflects upon his life—from his Canadian childhood, to his part in the sixties rock explosion with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, through his later career with Crazy Horse and numerous private challenges. An instant classic, Waging Heavy Peace is as uncompromising and unforgettable as the man himself.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Rolling Stone once paid homage to "Neil Young's blazing guitar and bruised wonder of a voice." We have been immersing ourselves in both since the Buffalo Springfield days of the mid-sixties and there is no sense of ending: Just last year, the Canadian-born performer released his first Crazy Horse album since 2004 and toured in support of his second album of the year. With the directness and candor that has marked his career, Waging Heavy Peace takes us from his Lionel train Ontario childhood through gigs with Crosby, Stills & Nash, and beyond. The sixties and seventies, but so much more. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

The New York Times
…as charismatically off the wall as Mr. Young's records, and the…concert films so imaginatively directed by Jonathan Demme. And however privately calculating it may be, it seems completely free of guile…[Stephen King's] writing is recalled by Mr. Young's frankness, small-town backbone and comfortable familiarity with ghosts…The personal stories about Mr. Young's children and their mothers, about friends and band mates lost to ill health and drugs, can be as eerie as any of Mr. King's daydreams. But Waging Heavy Peace has an affirmative spirit that is one of its most poignant qualities.
—Janet Maslin
Publishers Weekly
In his lively, rollicking, high-spirited, and reflective memoir, Young, the hugely influential Canadian singer-songwriter invites readers to sit down on his porch for comfortable conversations about his guitars, his bands, his cars, his inventions, his trains (he owns a small share in Lionel), and his family. Musically, he ruminates, he may or may not have peaked because "other things continue to grow and develop long afterward, enriching and growing the spirit and the soul." Young openly shares intimate moments of life with his sons, Zeke and Ben, who suffer from cerebral palsy, and his artist daughter, Amber, devoting entire chapters to the ways they have changed his life, as well as to his beloved wife, Pegi, and their life together. Like one of his long, inventive jams, Young weaves crystalline lyrics and notes about friends Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, and Bruce Springsteen, former band mates Stephen Stills, and the late great pedal steel player Ben Keith of the Stray Gators, with reflections on the enduring beauty of nature, and the lasting power and influence of music. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Young has successfully explored so many different musical styles in his solo and collaborative work that his career could serve as a map of rock music in the last 50 years. Not every musician could have moved so silkily from the gentler sounds of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, & Nash to the hard-driving rock of Crazy Horse to experimentation that has led to Young's being dubbed the godfather of grunge. A noncompromiser and active environmentalist, too; here's his story.
Kirkus Reviews
The long-awaited memoir from the legendary rocker. Readers will learn few of the secrets of Young's art of songwriting, save that "Ohio" came in a flash in response to the bad news from Kent State, and he didn't play a note on "Teach Your Children." Neither, apart from a visit to the clinic here and there, will they learn much about musicians' hedonistic ways. Instead, Young writes of electric trains. He loves them so much that he bought a stake in Lionel, and he has barns and rooms on his rambling California ranch full of them. "I saw David [Crosby] looking at one of my train rooms full of rolling stock and stealing a glance at Graham [Nash] that said, This guy is cuckoo. He's gone nuts. Look at this obsession. I shrugged it off. I need it. For me it is a road back," he writes. Trains return often in the narrative, as do dusty roads, old cars and tractors. But Young, author of "Trans" and other weird outings that once got him sued by his own record label for delivering music "uncharacteristic of Neil Young," is also a technogeek extraordinaire, particularly when it comes to sound; he often mentions the digital format that he's been tinkering with in his mad-scientist lab. He asserts that because it preserves so little--5 percent, by his reckoning--of the actual sound of a recording, "[i]t is not offensive to me that the MP3-quality sound is traded around." Along the way, Young discusses guitars and bands, revealing a now-improbable wish to reconvene Buffalo Springfield, which never lived up to its promise, and Crazy Horse. Sometimes he's even a little jokey about music in general (on America's song "A Horse with No Name": "Hey, wait a minute! Was that me? Okay. Fine. I am back now. That was close!"). Not the revelation that was Keith Richards' Life, but an entertaining and mostly well-written journey into the past, if light on rock 'n' roll.
The Barnes & Noble Review

What does rock 'n' roll do to a person, long-term? Decibels, overload, and the ravening Id; chemical attrition, abuse of the higher faculties; near-limitless scope for bad behavior... After decades of these, what effects? Well, the specimens are walking, or shambling, among us — and more than that, they are writing up their own case histories. On the microscope slide of memoir they are offering us slivers of old rocker brain. Keith Richards did it in 2010 ? in his book Life — with the help of co-author James Fox. Now Neil Young and Pete Townshend have done it, each in his own way, no co-authors involved. "Writing is very convenient, has a low expense, and is a great way to pass the time," declares Young in Waging Heavy Peace. "I highly recommend it to any old rocker who is out of cash and doesn't know what to do next. You could hire someone to write it for you if you can't write it yourself.... Just don't hire some sweaty hack who asks you questions for years and twists them into his own vision of what is right or wrong." Townshend, most Townshend-ianly, concludes Who I Am with a letter to his eight year-old self: "You have a brilliant mind. Unfortunately you are not going to exercise it quite as much as you should."

These are two very different books by two very different men. Who I Am is literate, self-aware, painstakingly chronological, and written in a spirit of lacerating candor. "I was still experiencing manic-depressive anxiety attacks, hearing voices and music, seeing visions. The only medication that helped was alcohol." Waging Heavy Peace is candid, too, but hazier and more graciously self-forgiving. The book ambles back and forth on a woozy narrative spiral — now he's talking about his latest car, now his broken toe, now his first band — and reads for the most part like it came curling off the top of Young's magnificent head. "So we are getting into this now. There may have to be more than one book. I read up on this sort of thing, and the worst thing you can have is a book that is too long." A couple of points of commonality, though, between Neil Young and Pete Townshend: they are both geniuses, and they have both largely expressed themselves with electricity, using amplified guitars.

Townshend's classic sound is a near-celestial ringing and whooshing, his solos a matter not so much of individual notes as of the huge choral combinations at that moment forcing their way through his built-to-order high-tensile noise-conducting neurotic Englishman's frame and hands. As a boy, we learn from Who I Am, he was subject to mysterious sonic overwhelmings, often triggered by rivers or the sea: "I began to hear the most extraordinary music, sparked by the whine of the outboard motor and the burbling sound of water against the hull. I heard violins, cellos, horns, harps and voices, which increased in number until I could hear countless threads of an angelic choir." When, as a man, he channeled this "alpha-state music" through his guitar, it would emerge stamped unmistakably with Townshend-ness — what Gerard Manley Hopkins, writing of the composer Henry Purcell (also a favorite of the young Townshend), called "the forg'd feature": "...it is the rehearsal / Of own, of abrupt self there so thrusts on, so throngs the ear."

Neil Young's sound — when he's really going — is heavier, weirder and more searing, with the glimmering immaterial weight of an epileptic aura. (Young himself has suffered from seizures, rushes, strange buzzings and gusts of "cosmic wind".) In Waging Heavy Peace he recounts the moment when he first delivered himself to it, surrendered to it, dangerously — the full current of his musical being. The occasion is a show by his pre–Buffalo Springfield band the Squires, at the Flamingo Club in Fort William, Ontario, where having played a solo "like I was out of my mind" Young is approached after the set by a well-respected local guitarist, a real shredder and proponent of "the Toronto sound." As Young records it, the man is agog. "What the fuck was that?! What the hell were you doing? I have never heard anything like that in my life! It was fucking great, man! Shit!" (That last exclamation capturing beautifully the enraptured, covetous sense of affront that is the truest tribute one artist can pay to another.)

Both Neil Young and Pete Townshend are also, in the best and most constructive sense of the term, cranks. Parts of Waging Heavy Peace double as a product pitch for Lincvolt, Young's vision of a fuel-efficient, sort-of-green classic car ("Lincvolt will be powerful, clean and sexy. This has to happen. It is going to.") and PureTone, his attempt to rescue recorded music, and the ears of its listeners, from the plague of the MP3. Throughout the book he is building, designing, inventing, fiddling with wires, giving up, starting again; he is a lifelong model train buff, with a "small share" in the collectibles company Lionel; reworking the interior of Broken Arrow Ranch (where he wrote "Old Man") he makes connoisseurial trips to the lumberyard, going through "stacks and stacks of twelve-inch-wide planks of rough-sawn A-grade redwood, choosing the ones with the most beautiful sap and grain. Maybe I took one out of every twelve."

He is a glorious gearhead: his relationship with his cars, with his guitars, is true intimacy. Ragged Glory, he tells us (rumbling with ecstasy) was mainly written in his "car barn," surrounded by "all of my best shit": "My Fender Deluxe with a Fender Reverb, my whizzer attached to it, my Magnatone feeding from that, and my Baldwin Exterminator feeding off of it, too." He has also adored dogs and people — especially people who, like good cars, do their jobs properly and with a bit of style: his formidable manager/confrere David "Be Great or Be Gone" Briggs is eulogized, in bursts, throughout Waging Heavy Peace, as are the likes of sideman Ben Keith ("a wonderful man, gentle as the rain") whose steel guitar playing on "Old Man" and "Heart of Gold" is the very definition of the word plangent.

The crankiness of Pete Townshend is more, shall we say, abstract. True, his breakthrough work with synthesizers around the time of Who's Next was quite Young-esque in its balance of inspiration and hands-on monomania. (Why is he not acknowledged as a pioneer of electronic music? Oh, that's right: because his greatest innovations are buried under the power chords of "Baba O'Riley.") The real action, however, was upstairs, in the throbbing Townshend brain.

There vague intuitions and intimations — about the power of Rock, about the coming of virtual reality, about the one true note from which all music springs, about a sad boy in a bubble — congealed into concepts, "high-flown congregational notions", few of which he was able to get across. "My excitement was greatest," he writes, "when I was exploring the terrain between the spiritual magic of music and the march of physics. Unfortunately I wasn't having much success communicating in the language I was using — one part science fiction, one part mystical waffle, one part visionary glimpses of the role computers could play in the future of electronic music." As he himself had prophesied in an early Who hit, he couldn't explain. His ego would rise in indignation. "It's like trying to explain atomic energy to a group of cavemen," he complained to his wife Karen in 1970, having failed to put his bandmates in the picture with regard to his Lifehouse project.

But the point about Lifehouse was that nobody understood it — not the Who, not their management, certainly not the kids who gathered at London's Young Vic theatre, in early 1971, in nebulous expectation of a futuristic Who/audience mash-up. ("We did manage to perform some songs to a pre-recorded backing track," relates Townshend in Who I Am, "but no new music was produced; the assembled audience wasn't given access to electronic instruments, or even tambourines to bang.")

We should be grateful, I suppose, that Townshend the electro-druid has opted to tell his story straight, in sequential black-and-white, rather than in whirring cyber-splinters on some unusable new social media platform. But telling it straight is important to him now, particularly with respect to the child pornography scandal that enveloped him in 2003. (Who I Am will reassure you that he meant no harm.) As for the reasons or purposes behind Waging Heavy Peace, they seem to be twofold: first, to check that Neil Young's brain is still working, and second, because no songs are coming to him at the moment. On the former point he is disarmingly straightforward: "I am always getting scared that I will be in the middle of some long-winded story and forget what I'm talking about and my secret that I am slowly losing my mind will be out. It is a real fear. Everyone will know! But that is not new. That is not a recent development. I have always been like that. That is what makes detecting the onset of early stages of dementia in me so difficult."

On the latter he is shrewd and artistic: "Songs are like rabbits and they like to come out of their holes when you're not looking.... So I feel like am standing over a song hole. That will never result in success." Childlike, senescent, wise, and wonderfully foolish, Young in Waging Heavy Peace hands down his lessons — the most fundamental of them, perhaps, being one to which the Townshend of Who I Am would readily assent. And it goes like this: "Don't be greedy. Be ready."

James Parker is the author of Turned On: A Biography of Henry Rollins (Cooper Square Press), and a correspondent for The Atlantic.

Reviewer: James Parker

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101594094
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/25/2012
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 62,172
  • File size: 7 MB

Meet the Author

Neil Young and his wife, singer Pegi Woods, divide their time between Hawaii and the Bay Area.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(27)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    Difficult to stay focused

    The review above is very well written and truthful. I, too, am a Neil Young fan, but found this book difficult to stay focused on. His lack of any kind of chronological order is confusing and his tendency to jump around from one subject to another gets annoying. I almost stopped reading it, but decided to persevere. Neil, stick to being the great musician and songwriter that you are, and leave the writing to real authors!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    Yay, Neil

    If you are a Neil fan, you MUST read this. I also think it's worth the extra couple bucks for the Deluxe edition with pictures, video and music. That said, I absolutely love the way his mind works and gets the words to paper.

    Reading this got me into his world... I was not expecting that and am completely thrilled I went there!

    The way Neil continues to challenge himself, his fans and the world is evident in his music, writing, productions and inventions. In addition to being enriched by this book, I have fallen in love with and have great respect for Neil Young, the family man.

    TLC in Y-Town

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    A Day In The Life With Neil Young

    A fascinating journey through the life of Neil Young. Not your typical chronological autobiography, this book reads as you are sitting around hanging out with him all day. Whatever enters Neil's head makes it into this book. There are no boundaries, and you find out more about the man and his passions. There are no shots taken here as in many autobiographies, in fact Neil is proud of all the achievements from his past in music and the talent he played with. Neil has not lost his zest for life in maturity. A great read unlike any other rock and roll biography.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2012

    Hanging with Neil

    This book is many things: biography, diary, sales brochure. I think Neil self-assigned himself the task of writing every day, and just wrote whatever was on his mind that particular day. One day he’s in a mood to reminisce, the next fired up about toy trains, the next all he’s got is what he did that day. There’s an exciting blurb about Neil Young goes to Cosco. What the heck? So, you don’t get a linear, focused, academic narrative. I’ve tried reading those about Neil and got totally bored. One get’s the sense in this book of getting to know a little about who Neil Young is. There is no co-writer or editor credited. The surprise is how very well written the individual blurbs are. Buy the book and hang with Neil for a while. That’s what it is.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2012

    Not terrible

    Perhaps Mr Young should keep on doing what he does best: Write and perform great music. The book does seem at times to be a long advertisement for his grand electric car and his analog audio device. Though these are amazing inventions and worthy of our attention, they do not make for a great read. Obviously those endeavors are dear to him and, again are significant. However the style of narrative and the "flow" of the book are, to me( key words) just not there. Pack down a bowl of some sweet sticky old man, find a match and rock us on for your next 20? years.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2012

    Great Read ! even if you don't know who Neil Young is.

    Neil's book is outstanding. Its in depth description of the many sides to Neil offer an enlighten education of the man behind his music.
    The stories behind the songs, the music makers he has worked with and his personal tragedies, joys and accomplishments make this book a necessity for all Neil Young fans and a must read for those folks who are not yet a fan.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    The best autobio

    This is excellent and i rarely read nonfiction but love his music and great story

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    I loved this book

    Having had Neil Young being a large part of the sountrack of my life, I truly enjoyed this book. In this book, he has covered everything from his early years to his most recent life.

    The combination of information from his musical to personal life was great to read. Even though I have never met Neil, there was nothing in the book that was earth shattering info in; it all fit in perfectly with my perception of Neil from listening to his music and the few interviews I've read or seen.

    I am not a hard core reader so my belief that Neil's writing style is unique may be incorrect, although I do believe his style not going to be found in an English Composition 101 class.

    Thank you Neil, I loved your book and was sad when I got to the last page realizing there was no more to read.....for now.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    Enderfur

    Pads in

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    I like Neil Young but this book is written in a stream of consci

    I like Neil Young but this book is written in a stream of consciousness style. He writes a lot about his electric car and his hatred of mp3s.It is a fast read though. borrow it from your library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Johnna is

    Goin to my room

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Tanner

    Im going to bed soon

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    True to who he is

    Enjoyable

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2013

    To Ash from Dreww

    I am locked out come to peace res 10

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2013

    Medcat den

    A long turned over tree trunk thats hollow.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    who wants to cht

    Hey im moriah im 13 and wanna chat with some one...( im single) hook me up

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2013

    Ken

    Twst

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Sierra to Chrissy

    Goto next result...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2012

    A must read for fans

    I have been a Neil Young devotee since the 60's. I wasn't sure if this book would just be a "back in the day" stroll down memory lane or if it would include thought-provoking opinions or what. I should have known it would be totally engrossing and full of unique perspectives on a career that never stops. Neil's honesty and genuine passion for family, friends and music is refreshing. He doesn't gloss over his own shortcomings and he says what he needs to say about things he really cares about. That sounds boring, but it is far from that. Nor is it just a big rant. With each chapter, I just wanted more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2012

    For any Neil fan

    Interesting voice as a writter. A lot like reading a diary. The sections about his music are great.

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