Waging Heavy Peace

An Autobiography by Neil Young. Neil is one of my favorite artists. He tells some history about Buffalo Springfield and CSNY and also the Mynah Birds with Rick James. Neil Young and Rick James in a band together…its just hard for me to imagine that.

He gets into how he started his music career with his first band and how he loves Crazy Horse.

Now all of these stories are great but… this is during the period he came up with PONO music… a high-end music player that plays music with much more quality than CDs or mp3s. This venture eventually failed years later but he is very excited about it in the book. That is great but sometimes it seems forced. I honestly don’t think he was plugging PONO…I think he was just that excited about it. His enthusiasm is unquestionable.

Cars…the man loves cars. I admire that in him but again he talks A LOT about electric cars and hybrids. Then he combines the two…PONO music systems being installed into…fuel efficient cars. I will admit it is interesting and you get to see what makes the man tick.

Some of it reads like a diary because that is the way he wrote a lot of it. He will say he is going to Hawaii and then a page or two later…he will tell you he made it there. It’s like being in conversation with someone who will just switch subjects on a whim. Neil tends to ramble.

He is part owner in Lionel Trains and you can feel his love of trains coming through the pages. He also talks about his quadriplegic son and the Lionel Train control he designed for his son to operate the trains. That I found really heart touching. He really tries to connect with his son and that is what the album Trans is all about.

He goes through his drug and drinking problems, medical problems, marriage problems, and every single car or bus he has had in his life…which again he just loves any kind of vehicle.

The disappointment for me was Neil didn’t talk enough about the music. Yes, you will learn more about Neil Young. I did learn many things about him that I didn’t know. The problem is he spreads the music sections out and just when he gets on a roll, you are thinking… cool he is writing about playing with Buffalo Springfield and also where they hung out…here comes the PONO Music bit or more car information.

I guess the best way to sum it up is yes you will get a lot of the musical info you are looking for but you have to wade through a lot of rambling.

Overall if you can find this book 2nd hand, get it. If you are looking for a definitive Neil Young bio this is not the one… He does have great things to say about the members of CSNY, Buffalo Springfield, and Crazy Horse. Maybe I wanted another Testimony or My Cross to Bear…this wasn’t it…but what did I expect? It’s Neil Young and he is going to do what he wants to do… that is the reason we love him.

I will admit this…after he mentions all the vintage cars and busses he has owned his enthusiasm rubs off…I started to look these models up and reading about them… but it wasn’t what I had in mind going into the book.

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

16 thoughts on “Waging Heavy Peace”

  1. I have the book but haven’t read it yet. Best rock memoir I have read- Elvis Costello’s book was very good I thought. I am a fan but Neil is one weird dude.

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    1. I busted out laughing at your last comment. You will get some music info but I personally got tired of PONO and the cars. It was an interesting book just not what I thought. His love for his son is awesome and explained Trans more to me…I will check out Costello’s book. I went to see Dylan at the Ryman a few years back and he had a no-name opening guest…out comes Costello to do an acoustic set. When Bob started to play Jack White came out and played with him. Great show.

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      1. You never know here… I just looked it up… I can’t believe it was that long ago. It was 2007…time flies by. Amos Lee is his name. Everyone thought Elvis was Amos at first as he was walking toward the mic then it was like wow…after that Amos played.

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      2. Not a good thing at all. I told my son you are going to look in a mirror one day and be 21 in your head but 50 in the mirror.

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      3. I have told young people nearly the same thing- one day you are 21 and then the next day you wake up and you are 50. They look at me like I am crazy–they will someday realize I wasn’t.

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      4. No, they will get it. At 36 I started to think…oh geez I’m right around the corner. That corner passed quick.


      5. I forget who said it- I am thinking Joe Walsh but I could be wrong- on Neil– “Neil owns half of California but he only has one pair of jeans and it has holes in it.”– or something of that order.

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      6. That is great I love Joe…Neil still refers to himself as a hippie… I still can’t get over him leaving Stills in the middle of a tour with a note that said “Dear Stephen, funny how things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach. Neil”… He is his own man that is for sure but wow.

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      7. One of the things i like about him is– some artists seem to be afraid to release their work- like U2 for example they keep fine tuning things trying to get it perfect etc.. the decade is almost up and they have 2 albums out.There is nothing wrong with wanting to put out the best you can do but I think some artists go too far… Neil he is constantly putting out new material- some good some not so good but he doesn’t sit back and worry about how things will be received and like you said- he’s his own man- he does what he wants to do not what the market place is expecting.

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      8. You can fine-tune the soul out of a song and make it way too slick. Neil and Bob just put it out there with rough edges at times and I like that.

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      9. I don’t know if you are a U2 fan or not but I recall in 2011 reading an article about how they had 3 albums ready to go- 2011 was going to be the year of U2…..nothing was released until 2014. Maybe what they had was garbage and Bono and the boys decided they couldn’t release the stuff I don’t know– but I find that as a fan frustrating. ,,, Have you heard this talk that Paul may be releasing a new album soon? Rumor was today I guess it didn’t happen??

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      10. I heard Paul played some new songs off of it during his trip to Liverpool the other day from the Beatles channel on Sirus radio…that is all I heard. Yes, I became a big U2 fan in the 80s with Rattle and Hum. I traveled to Birmingham to see them with Big Audio Dynamite…

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  2. I enjoyed reading your take on this book. I read it back in 2014, and I still remember trying to get used to the unusual writing style. It was like being in a car on a road trip with Neil driving and talking the whole time–about whatever popped into his head at the moment. The thing is, I think that IS Neil, so it had a truth and realness to it. It was not curated. I kept reading on, and was glad at the end to have stayed with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was like being in a conversation with him you are right. I was expecting a usual chronicle trip through his history. It caught me off guard. Like I said I don’t think he was plugging the PONO…he was just sharing his enthusiasm. You said it right…it took me a while to get used to it. I had just read Testimony and My Cross to Bear and I was expecting something like that… I should have known better with Neil…which again is the reason we like him as an artist.

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