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Waging Heavy Peace [Hardcover]

Neil Young
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 25 2012

Amazon.ca Editors' Pick: Best Books of 2012

For the first time, legendary singer, songwriter, and guitarist Neil Young offers a kaleidoscopic view of his personal life and musical creativity. He tells of his childhood in Ontario, where his father instilled in him a love for the written word; his first brush with mortality when he contracted polio at the age of five; struggling to pay rent during his early days with the Squires; traveling the Canadian prairies in Mort, his 1948 Buick hearse; performing in a remote town as a polar bear prowled beneath the floorboards; leaving Canada on a whim in 1966 to pursue his musical dreams in the pot-filled boulevards and communal canyons of Los Angeles; the brief but influential life of Buffalo Springfield, which formed almost immediately after his arrival in California. He recounts their rapid rise to fame and ultimate break-up; going solo and overcoming his fear of singing alone; forming Crazy Horse and writing “Cinnamon Girl,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and “Down by the River” in one day while sick with the flu; joining Crosby, Stills & Nash, recording the landmark CSNY album, Déjà vu, and writing the song, “Ohio;” life at his secluded ranch in the redwoods of Northern California and the pot-filled jam sessions there; falling in love with his wife, Pegi, and the birth of his three children; and finally, finding the contemplative paradise of Hawaii. Astoundingly candid, witty, and as uncompromising and true as his music, Waging Heavy Peace is Neil Young’s journey as only he can tell it.

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“Elliptical and personal…Waging Heavy Peace eschews chronology and skips the score-settling and titillation of other rocker biographies. Still, Young shows a little leg and has some laughs…. As the book progresses, the operatics of the rock life give way to signal family events, deconstructions of his musical partnerships and musings on the natural world. It is less a chronicle than a journal of self-appraisal.” –David Carr, The New York Times

Waging Heavy Peace finally is Neil Young on Neil Young. Inasmuch as this memoir compares to anything, it's Dylan on Dylan in Chronicles Volume 1, and at the risk of offending, one must read it as perhaps one might the Bible: Young's reality is plastic, his prose prophetic; and myth, metaphor and madness meander through his musings….It is a beautiful book, and the sturdy stock gives it a substantial heft. The prose is conversational, peppered with sentence fragments, more stream-of-consciousness than narrative. This in itself is lovely, as reading this book likely is a close as most of us will get to riding with Young in his bus, shooting the breeze, reminiscing.” –Ted St. Godard, Winnipeg Free Press (Canada)

“Terrific: modest, honest, funny and frequently moving…Waging Heavy Peace takes the form of a diary, a life-in-the-day structure that gives Mr. Young room to maneuver, as he takes us on a wander round his memory palace… In many ways, the closest antecedent to Waging Heavy Peace may be Laurence Sterne's 1760 masterpiece, Tristram Shandy…Elegance itself.” –Wesley Stace, Wall Street Journal

“An inspirational account of tragedy, triumph, and toy trains…If you love Neil Young you will love his autobiography….There is humor in his approach, and a preoccupation with the feeling of things; of sound, and with the world of soul and spirit…. [Young’s] is a hero’s story; a man put through trial after trial who is still fighting at the end with humor, courage, and rage to be the most powerful and genuine artist he can possibly be.” –Suzanne Vega, The Times (London)

“Remarkable…Young has neither burned out nor faded away.” –Bruce Ward, The Ottawa Citizen

“Revealing, even (at times) oddly beautiful, a stream-of-consciousness-meditation on where Young has been, where he thinks he's going and, perhaps most revealing, where he is right now…. It is compelling to see a figure as prominent as Young — arguably one of the five or 10 most influential figures in the history of rock 'n' roll — express himself in such an unfiltered way.” –David Ulin, The Los Angeles Times

“Full of casual asides, unpredictable tangents and open-ended questions as he looks back on his life at age 66....Young appears to be setting down his memories in real time as they occur to him...Dryly hilarious...poignant....Waging Heavy Peace shows that Young is still in full possession of that stubborn, brilliant, one-of-a-kind instrument. He doesn't always go exactly where you want him to, or stay long enough once he gets there, but did anyone really expect anything else?" –Simon Vozick-Levinson, Rolling Stone (four stars)

“Like an epic jam with Crazy Horse, it's loose and baggy and always in the moment… The strength of Waging Heavy Peace lies in its openness and honesty. When you put Young's book down, you feel you know him.” –Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer

“An honest, insightful, engaging and, dare we say, fun literary rambling. It’s a yarn told by a good buddy in a dark bar over beers and tequilas with great music on the jukebox in the background.” –Bob Ruggiero, The Houston Chronicle

“Surreal….Fittingly, Peace unfolds like a blustery Crazy Horse jam…occasionally hitting on an enrapturing revelation …a contradictory tale…refreshing.” –Entertainment Weekly

"Young has consistently demonstrated the unbridled passion of an artist who understands that self-renewal is the only way to avoid burning out. For this reason, he has remained one of the most significant artists of the rock and roll era." —Eddie Vedder

“Young writes with dry eloquence in a voice that is clearly his own…His narrative voice is like his music—direct, emotional, hopeful, sometimes funny, willfully naïve, and often, quite beautiful… At its core, Waging Heavy Peace is a story about love of the enduring variety.” –Jeff Miers, Buffalo News

“Lively, rollicking, high-spirited, and reflective… Like one of his long, inventive jams, Young weaves crystalline lyrics and notes about friends… with reflections on the enduring beauty of nature, and the lasting power and influence of music.” — Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Straight from the wandering mind and pure heart of Neil Young… Fascinating.” – Portland Oregonian

“A thick, digressive epic…Waging Heavy Peace is like his career in microcosm. Nearly 500 elliptical pages long, the book is beautiful, psychedelic, rootsy, ragged, terse, boring, riveting, sad, funny, nostalgic and forward-looking…. A must-read for Neil fans.” – David Marchese, SPIN

“Outspoken, wildly discursive, and thoroughly mesmerizing.” –Megan O’Grady, Vogue.com

“[Young] makes some of his finest music in this lyrical memoir, massaging our souls by hitting just the right chords with his words.” —BookPage

“Fascinating.” –Evan Schlansky, American Songwriter

About the Author

Neil Young’s music and songwriting—which span forty years and thirty-four studio albums of rock and roll, folk, and country, with shadings of blues, techno, and other styles—are among the most enduring and popular in modern times. From his early days with Buffalo Springfield through his solo career and collaborations with Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crazy Horse, and dozens of other notable musicians and groups, Young is acclaimed for both his musical talents and his artistic integrity. With a major hit in every decade since the sixties, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice (as a solo artist in 1995 and as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1997). A well-known political activist, environmentalist, and philanthropist, Young has been involved in several causes, notably cofounding Farm Aid and The Bridge School, which assists children with physical impairments and communication needs.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Love the music, but not the book. Sept. 23 2013
I stopped reading after the first 50 pages and had finally picked back up tonight for the first time in months. After 10 more pages, I logged into amazon to see if others had found a similar struggle to continue. It's unfortunate as I really wanted to like this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull Nov. 13 2012
By F. Muir
Being a Neil Young fan, a man whose songs through the last four decades will leave a legacy of a marvellous tunesmith, I purchased this book expecting a tome similar in content. Was I wrong. I forced myself to trudge through the near 500-page book expecting an introspective (and retrospective) look into the man and his complicated life. Instead, the first 100-odd pages are devoted to cars. Expect many sentences that run no more than 4 words at a time and essentially say nothing. Expect many exclamation marks that are inappropriate to the statement. Do not expect anything deeper than his love for his current family (sorry, but to me a given) and little regarding the trials and tribulations with his involvement with Buffalo Springfield and C,S,N & Y. These and his troubled relationship with his father ("daddy") are merely glossed over and professes his love for everyone he has ever partnered with. I do admit that the last 50 pages showed promise but it cannot make up for the previous drivel. Finally, to claim that he wrote "Old Man" about a man from whom he purchased his ranch rather than his father is hard to stomach. As was mentioned previously, if you want a deeper look into the man, read "Shakey" by James McDonough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable - Better to buy some of his music July 19 2013
I apparently share the same view of this book as many other reviewers here. I made it through about 70 pages before I had to give up. Young rambles on in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way - a paragraph about his train set, followed by a paragraph about Crosby, Stills and Nash, followed by a paragraph about his vintage cars. The book badly needs editing (if not ghost writing) and is basically unreadable in its current form. I am a fan of his music, however.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs an editor... Oct. 26 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wow!I laughed when I wasn't supposed to. Neil rambles through most of this book. Although I love the man and his music, his writings are repetitious, infantile (sometimes), and play out like a recorded transcript complete with hesitant sentence fragments and uncomfortable pauses. It works when he reminisces about his childhood and his musical friends and enemies. He also seems to come clean about how his history of control has left a trail of damage in the form of broken relationships. It's good that he has "given up booze and weed" (Dr.'s orders) and his musings on the nature of his creativity while off the substances that he has relied on for many years is brave, engaging and revealing. And here I thought Cros was the one with the demons...

I have always wondered about the relationship with his wife, Pegi, and all his children. Here he sheds light on his deep love for family and throughout the book, I found this to be the most touching and meaningful. If you are interested in this powerful bond, I recommend the book. If you are looking for some deep insight into him from an objective (and more harsh perhaps) perspective, go read Jimmy McDonough's book of a few years ago.

Still love the man.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars he's one-of-a-kind Oct. 3 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I can see why some folks get frustrated with this book - Mr. Young often repeats himself and bounces hither and yon according to his fancy. This doesn't bother me so much. That's primarily because of one of the things I like about this book is that it's completely in his voice, and one suspects, his character - which is something I want to get from an autobiography. Further, an enduring force in music such as he has nothing to prove - it is what it is.

I wish I could give 5 stars because of that, and because of the elements that were open, informative and touching - there were many. However, in equal measure there were elements which were held back (albeit for his own personal reasons - and he says so) and others that became tedious. I prefer to recall the touching and informative bits but must recommend that whichever way your reading experience goes, as with Mr. Young, odds are it will be one-of-a-kind, too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well that's Neil April 12 2014
I thought it was a great read. Yes, Neil Young has the attention span of a flea. But that's what he's like I gather. You really get a sense of what's important to him. A far different autobiography from that of David Crosby or Graham Nash, but then I guess that sums up
The man.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Waging Heavy Peace Feb. 28 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Was okay. He writes more about his friends and family than he does about himself. Speaks a LOT of an environmentally friendly car he has spent years building. Was an okay read;however, would of enjoyed reading more about his journey in life rather than his journey building a car.
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Some reviews say that Neil Young rambles on about cars etc. I happen to share an interest in big old luxury cars, music, and musical legends such as Neil Young. You learn about all these things through his ramblings (which are written down in a conversational style). When we talk about our past, we all tend to ramble on. You learn more about Neil Young, the man, this way than if it would all have been professionally edited to perfection. I felt the same way about Bob Dylan's autobiography, this was written in a similar manner. I enjoyed it very much and found it honest and engaging. I would have given it a 5 if not for the reoccurring plugs for Neil Young's experimental high resolution audio play back technology, "Pono"; which reads a bit too much like advertising. I can't really blame him too much though, he "don't sing for Pepsi, don't sing for Coke" but he is excited about the projects he is working on for positive change. Rock on Neil!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good with a unique writing style.
Published 26 days ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Husband loved it
Bought this for my husband and another as a gift for his brother who still lives in Winnipeg. First book my husband just couldn't put down in ages. Read more
Published 8 months ago by N.L. Coates
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting blog style format and lots of interesting information
The book was quite an interesting format, starting out almost like a blog as to what he was doing day to day, and what he hoped to do. And then many chapters on the history. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Robin Tivy
5.0 out of 5 stars A conversation with Neil
This was like taking a road trip with Neil, across the country, maybe in a '56 Caddy. Just put Neil in the driver's seat and ask him "So what's up? Read more
Published 11 months ago by sam
4.0 out of 5 stars Neil Young 'Waging Heavy Peace'
I found the book to be very good read and insight into a "Rock" Icon. A Canadian who marches to his own drum.
Published 11 months ago by Trail-Boss
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy book.
Actually, heavy in weight. Interesting stories, but not in chronological order. Neil goes off on tangents quite often. Would like to read about life after this book.
Published 13 months ago by Jim Victor
4.0 out of 5 stars Twas a gift.
It was a gift so I can't comment on the quality, but let's be honest, it's about Neil Young so it probably has a Heart of Gold.

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Published 14 months ago by Nut
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