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The unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of Neil Young’s Waging Heavy Peace, the rock music memoir of the year. Read by Keith Carradine.
"I felt that writing books fit me like a glove; I just started and I just kept going." Neil Young is a singular figure in the history of rock and pop culture generally in the last four decades. Reflective, insightful, and disarmingly honest, in Waging Heavy Peace he writes about his life and career. From his youth in Canada to his crazy journey out to California, through Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, & Nash, to his massively successful solo career and his reemergence as the patron saint of grunge on to his role today as one of the last uncompromised and uncompromising survivors of rock & roll - this is Neil’s story told in his own words.
In the book Young presents a kaleidoscopic view of personal life and musical creativity; it’s a journey that spans the snows of Ontario to the LSD-laden boulevards of 1966 Los Angeles to the contemplative paradise of Hawaii today. Along the way he writes about the music, the victims, the girls, and the drugs; about his happy family life but also about the health problems he and his children have experienced; about guitars, cars, and sound systems; about Canada and California and Hawaii.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Keith Carradine?
This guy sounds more like a brainless cheerleader reading out loud a self help book than someone with balls to narrate Neil Young's autobiography. I cannot get over the pretended enthusiasm and complete lack of style and presentation, even after a couple of hours listening that usually does the trick. It just kills the story. <br/><br/>Maybe the book is an enjoyable read, though, I'll give it a try some day.
At the time of writing I’m only about halfway through this book but the reality is I seriously doubt I’m going to make it to the end. Like many other reviewers I have been a fan of CSN&Y for many years (who am I kidding, decades) and even had the opportunity to see Neil’s former colleagues in London when they toured in 2013. They were amazing, and their enjoyment of playing together, after all the highs and lows, was clear to see.
Consequently I was hoping that this book would be filled with background about one of the most influential bands of the past 40 years; how Neil met them, what happened the very first time they all sat down and played together, behind-the-scenes insights into life in the heady days of the ‘California Sound’ that gave us The Eagles, Steely Dan, Buffalo Springfield, Joni Mitchell and many, many more. How they dealt with the pressures of having four accomplished songwriters and their egos in one room as they worked to produce a follow-up to the worldwide hit album ‘Deja Vu’. Stories of life on the road and of course, the stresses and arguments that led to the band’s final demise, and what happened next.
Well, amazing as it sounds, none of that is in this book. What Neil does discuss, and at great length I might add, is his love for old cars, building things (especially houses), Lionel Model Train Sets (of which he is/was a part owner), his project to develop electric cars and his goal to introduce a new quality standard to online music files that will surpass and replace the dreaded (to Neil anyway) MP3.
Now I’m very aware my disappointment that the book is not what I was expecting can hardly be laid at Mr Young’s feet; the illusion was mine and mine alone, but all the same is he really this detached from his audience? Mention ‘Neil Young’ to practically anyone and the first association they make is to CSN&Y. Despite his successful solo career after Buffalo Springfield (who also hardly get a mention by the way) it was those two ground-breaking bands that cemented his place as one of the greats and it’s hard to believe he doesn’t take a least a little time to acknowledge this.
I have to say I also found the writing style hard to engage with. Mr Carradine does a good job narrating but the overall effect is of a guy in a bar rambling away to whoever will listen. The narrative jumps about a lot, with many lines of dialogue suddenly interrupted by a random thought and then never returned to. He often reminisces about friends from the past who’ve since passed on, but gives just the briefest outline of who they were and the part they played in his life before diving off on another, usually unrelated, topic. And his shameless ‘infommercials’ for his ‘Pure Tone’ digital music format definitely cross the boundary of Mickey-Taking in my view.
The bottom line is that, with his decades of experience in both music and the harder realities of life itself, he must have a wealth of stories he could tell, but instead he chose to use the book as a platform for personal interests that frankly Mr Joe Public probably has little interest in. Such a missed opportunity.
That said Graham Nash has just completed his memoirs....
21 of 23 people found this review helpful
The subtitle "a hippie dream" sums it up really. Neil Young gives up the booze and weed, loses his musical muse and finds himself pondering the meaning of life in sobriety. On the wagon (hey -does that sound like a song title?) he rolls along dispensing product placement for his iTunes competitor, his link volt car, his toy trains and reviews his life, career and run-ins with his friends and co-musicians. As a fan, I came away a little disappointed with his shallowness. But sympathized with a man who exhibits contrition in his writing for waking up from a dream rather late in life. Keith Carradine tries nobly to inject enthusiasm into the reading of some rather dull ramblings. He is obviously a bigger fan than I am. It's shocking to see what The South Californian lifestyle has done to industrious Scots-Canadian Genes. Neil made a lot of money but didn't "quit this crazy scene" as Joni Mitchell once opined. It shows.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Where does Waging Heavy Peace rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
there was a fair bit of repetition in this book, a lot about audio quality. But I like his approach and he wrote well about his family. I would have liked more about the recording of his albums but he did it his way. Worth a listen.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Waging Heavy Peace in three words, what would they be?
Amazing life story
Who was your favorite character and why?
Neil young..... because it's about him
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
Story of a true legend
Any additional comments?
Well worth the money
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Quite a good read. He is a musical genius,he should stick to that. The narrative sometimes sounds like it was written by a 7 year old!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Being a huge Neil Young fan I couldn't wait to begin listening to this book that had somehow escaped me until now. I was taken by the accent of the reader as it actually sounded like Neil. On finishing part one I was delighted to hear that it was Keith Carradine, one of my favourite actors, reading the book......it just felt right.
Relaxing back I was transported gently through the life and times of Neil Young, his music, guitars, friends, train sets, family and a host of incredible cars. It is interesting, as he often mentions, that he is stone cold sober throughout the writing of this book and for the first time in many, many years. This is after a warning from his Doctor. Throughout the book it is obvious that Neil is deeply worried about dementia, something that his father suffered from, and this is the number one reason for his sobriety.
Neil is worried and annoyed by the lack of sound quality in modern forms of music which is so easily downloaded. He is working on a format which allows the listener the quality they deserve when downloading and is very passionate about this.
If you are a fan of Neil's music and whether your knowledge of his life runs deep or shallow this book will inform and intrigue you about a wonderfully gifted musician and person. If you are not a fan of Neil Young's music then you might not get it! by Jennifer Faul
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Waging Heavy Peace the most enjoyable?
That Neil never raised his head from the typewriter the whole time
What other book might you compare Waging Heavy Peace to, and why?
Ulysses by James Joyce as it is the complete opposite
Which scene did you most enjoy?
And now another note from Pure Tone, unashamed product placement
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
When he talked about his son and his love for him
Any additional comments?
You will never read another book like this. Like on the road, written on one roll of paper.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
I love Neil young's music and it occupies a special place in my soul. He has also collaborated with a few of my other favorite artists so naturaly i was eager to learn more about him. The book however is a little like the man, mercurial. sometime great but as in this case often misguided. This book is boring and he goes on about the same trivialities and gives us lots of uninteresting fluff detail, like his trip around costco with his rich friends. There is little about the interesting parts of his life and there is little sex drugs and rock n roll. this is a poor book and i shall be asking for my money back
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
I'm a Neil Young fan, so downloading this was an automatic.
It's not an auto-biography - it's more akin to Bob Dylan's 'Chronicles' - where the author tells stories from the old days and views his opinions.
It's a bit like Neil's albums - he has so many of different types, it's impossible to like them all. Each chapter of this book feels a little like that. He also talks a lot about his Puretone idea.
I enjoyed it - but I was hoping for more biographical stuff.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
First let me tell you that I like Neil Young’s music, I have bought some of his albums, some I like some I do not, but I have followed his music through the years . He has written some influential songs, that are part of my life. So I wanted to know more about the period when he wrote them and the political, historical influences, or personal reasons. A history of the man’s life, but what I got was a sales promotion of a new software to improve sound on downloadable music; the name of the book is based on this product “Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream” refers to his efforts to convince Apple corporation to buy his software and of course the prioritary hardware necessary to play the way excellent solution to the global problem of MP3, at least three chapters were about this with more interspersed deep deep into the book, second topic trains sets especially about the company he owns that makes them, and all the improvements he has made to track controls, and how trains are not what they use to be... third the amazing thirty five vintage classic cars he owns and the new electric engine he is developing and has tested in his ranch, followed by ramblings about girlfriends, good looking hippie girls, wives, good looking hippie girls, wives, and back to girlfriends, with no chronology or attempt to order of any kind. music is mentioned and discussed but very little is of true value because of the lack of focus or editing of any kind, stream of unconsciousness is what we are presented with and moments or commercial breaks on all de products Neil is producing.
First names of people are given as if we all knew who they were, people that overdose are immediately eulogized and canonized, everyone that is mentioned is a great person that are loved and appreciated for ever for having been part of his life, corporations unless owned by Neil are mostly evil.
Of politics I learned that he likes Reagan because no one is totally bad, totally cosmic man, totally cosmic.
Neil's idea of religion is that he will pray with those that pray but he believes in the forest and the moon and so he believes he is a pagan and he does not understand why christians did not like pagans; a while ago a friend gave him a book about the King Arthur but with female characters so he believes she is the pagan god, way too cosmic for me.
You get my drift this is a world where Neil is the center and you are the buyer of what he wants to sell, it is a hobby for him, a thing to do while he adjust to not taking drugs or drinking, if it is less than substandard, well he never did it with malice, it's just one of those thing that the muse demands of great artists, cosmic artists, but If you need proof just read the quote and you will see he never thinks that we will have to read his egotistical regurgitations and pay real money for the privilege of his disregard.
“I do enjoy writing, and I hope someone gets something interesting out of this book. I already have. Now, If I ever have to write a book that is not about me, I may be totally stumped and have writer's block. We will see. Writing is very convenient, has a low expense and is a great way to pass the time. 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. That doesn't seem to matter. 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. Try to avoid doing that.”
― Neil Young, Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream
If you would like to read a biography of a musician of this period that is interesting and well written Society's Child by Janis Ian is the book; a true child of the sixties.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful