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Book Review – Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young

| 4 December 2012 | Reply

Published by Viking
Published 2 October, 2012
rrp AUD$39.99
Reviewed by Domino A Dark

Neil Young has quit drinking, stopped smoking weed and taken a year off song writing to focus on his autobiography.  A long-term habitual smoker, Young informs readers that almost every song he ever wrote was while stoned, and so understandably, is a bit concerned that this new-found sober lifestyle will have any adverse effects on his creativity.  In this instance, his instincts have served him well.

Neil Young should stick to writing songs.  Light up and go back to music, man.

Waging Heavy Peace is the name of Young’s autobiography, and a clever one too – rich with puns and tongue in cheek reference to his hippie past.  And in case you were wondering, yes, he does write the way he sings – Waging Heavy Peace is longer than a Neil Young song and just as pointless.  Neil writes about his life’s adventures in no real chronological order.

Do you know how much stuff Young has done in his lifetime?  That’s one heck of a day dream.

Akin to a wandering, pointless daydream where there is no discernible plot, beginning or end, reading Young’s book, is not so much a well-planned story, as it is journey through his fuzzy, drug-addled mind.  Reading Waging Heavy Peace is a bit like what I imagine hanging out with Neil would be like – sitting in his living room, enjoying a spliff while he tells you stories about the old days.

“me and Steve Stills ate the last of our stash and decided it would be a good idea to go skateboarding in the moonlight.  Anyway, that’s how I got this scar right here on my elbow.’’

Or something like that.

Just remember, in that lounge room, shootin’ the shit with Young, you’ll be smoking that spliff alone, ‘cos the Big Guy has quit.

Clearly then, a sober Young does not make much more sense than a stoned one.  That boat sailed a long time ago.

But, reading is educational, even if you don’t enjoy the material, most times you will learn something.  This is the premise behind most proscribed reading material in our educational institutions certainly and with that in mind, here are a few things I learnt about Neil Young, thanks to the power of reading.

1.    Neil Young is Canadian, that’s right the big guy is NOT from the USA.  This makes him a victim of celebrity claiming, like Pavlova and Russell Crowe.

2.    Neil Young is a train geek.  Miniature trains are what floats his boat.  Neil started playing around with trains as a youngster and as his age (and bank balance) increased so too his locomotive obsession.  What do we learn from this?  Even mega-cool aging rock stars have nerdy hobbies.

3.    Neil Young likes cars.  In this he is no different to most testosterone driven superstars with money to burn, however; Young differs from his counterparts in that he is also interested in finding renewal energy sources with which to run his cars.  He spends a good chunk of his time and money on these alternative energy sources and his favourite so far is Ethanol.  Neil is a firm believer in the viability of ethanol fuels, and is convinced the bad press received by the corn-based fuel is a conspiracy – a conspiracy by the government to keep the economy reliant upon fossil fuels.  But then, what else would you expect from an old hippy?

4.    When he isn’t fighting the good fight against dirty fuel, Young’s other favourite crusade is against iTunes, MP3s and most other type of music that is not records.  He has a company called Puretone that’s sole purpose is to revive the pure sound of the 70s.  You know – because if there’s one thing forty years of advances in technology haven’t done, it’s improved the way we listen to and hear music.  Go Neil.

This is where the title of the book comes from – Young is waging heavy peace on Apple.  I wonder who’ll win.

I could go on, but I’ve lost interest.

Wanna-be writers and musos take note- just because you have made a successful career as a musician, does not mean you are a writer.  Songs and books are quite different.  One is significantly longer than the other for starters.

Waging Heavy Peace; read it or don’t.  I really couldn’t care less.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Shane

Category: Book Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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