I just finished reading “Waging Heavy Peace”, by Neil Young.
I suspect that it’s the closest I’ll ever get to sitting down and having a real conversation with him.
This is a stream of consciousness “memoir”…ruminations on his past and his current life and projects that feels like one of those conversations that you can pick up anytime…like I expected to be able to say, “now…where were we before you left to plug in your electric car?”.
I’ve always had a strong interest in Neil Young’s music. He always seemed to be willing to do whatever it took to move forward as an artist….even if the results weren’t as commercial as some of his more successful projects. I had a lot of respect for him as an artist because of both the quality and humor of his music…and the integrity that I saw in his artistic choices.
This book opened up his life and let me see that there was a lot more than just his music to admire.
The book jumps around a lot….early days to present…and, like the long walks he talks about enjoying taking on his ranch, covers a lot of ground.
He talks about his family and his environmental projects. He talks about friends he’s had and friends he’s lost. He talks quite a bit about his music and the people he made it with….but this book isn’t just a musical memoir…it is about his thoughts about his life and his place in the world.
I’ve read other reviews that complained that he talked too much about his cars, or his train collection, or anything else in the book that wasn’t music related…but it just made him seem like a complete and more interesting person to me. I don’t know why we expect any of our artists to be monochromatic personalities…it’s all the side interests that make them who they are…and let them make interesting art because of all the idiosyncrasies.
image from the guardian.co.uk
I’m listening to “Live at Massey Hall 1971” on Grooveshark as I’m writing this….it’s interesting to remember how young all those guys were when they were making this music. It really was a while ago.
Neil Young has a lot to remember…but this book is a good reminder that he’s got a lot going on in the present, too.