Waging Heavy Peace: A Memoir
By Neil Young. Blue Rider Press, 512 pp, hardcover
At 66, Neil Young has been a great many things in his life: musician, activist, philanthropist, inventor, and filmmaker. And with the recent release of his memoir Waging Heavy Peace, he can now add “author” to that impressive list of achievements.
While Jimmy McDonough’s 2002 biography Shakey helped shed some light on the enigmatic icon, with Waging Heavy Peace we finally get an authorized account of the man, in his own words. The legendary rocker unloads about his life, his friends, and his muse, all written as a nonlinear recollection, as if the reader were sitting with Young himself at the back of his tour bus, shooting the shit.
Unfortunately, Young keeps the stories about his lengthy career in the music business to a minimum, opting instead to offer anecdotes about his family unit, his love of vintage cars, the current state of the music business, and the poor sound quality of today’s music downloads. Furthermore, he laments his recent struggles to present a high-quality download option, much to the chagrin of iTunes and the Apple Corporation. When asked if he will go to war with Apple over his proposed Internet platform, Young states he’s “waging heavy peace”, hence the title of the book.
Overall, the book is reflective and enjoyable. However, Young’s true nature as the reclusive rock star has never been more apparent. There are no graphic stories of drug abuse or rock-star debauchery; instead, we get brief recollections about his pot-smoking, booze-drinking days of jamming with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and his own beloved band Crazy Horse. Actually, Young professes to have recently given up pot altogether and, because of this, to be going through some serious songwriter’s block.
Nevertheless, it seems Young would rather focus on his legacy, while seeking to be remembered for more than the huge musical catalogue he’s amassed during his career. At the moment, he’s content to finish development of his LincVolt (a prototype zero-emissions electric car), while musing about solutions to the world’s mounting energy crisis. In his golden years, Young’s more interested in helping the future than in recalling the past. Keep on rocking, Neil.