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Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream [Hardcover]

Neil Young
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Oct 2012

Waging Heavy Peace is the remarkable memoir of rock icon Neil Young

Neil Young is a singular figure in the history of rock and pop culture in the last four decades, inducted not once but twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Reflective, insightful and disarmingly honest, Waging Heavy Peace is his long-awaited memoir. 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 re-emergence as the patron saint of grunge on to his role today as one of the last uncompromised and uncompromising survivors of rock 'n' roll - this is Neil's story told in his own words.

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. Candid, witty and revealing, this book takes its place beside the classic memoirs of Bob Dylan and Keith Richards.

'Wryly funny, deeply moving, painfully honest' Guardian

'He's talking to you, not at you, unravelling himself as well, and you don't want it to end . . . You see rock and roll history from the inside out, and in the present tense' Independent

'Young appears bounteous and joyful, a genuinely happy hippy . . . Unusually for a rock memoir, this one is almost completely angst-free' Sunday Times

'Dryly hilarious . . . poignant . . . Waging Heavy Peace shows that Young is still in full possession of that stubborn, brilliant, one-of-a-kind instrument' Rolling Stone

'A real treat . . . he writes openly and movingly abut the key figures in his life...you feel you know Young better for reading it' Metro

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (4 Oct 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0670921718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670921713
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This year's biggest music biography, Neil Young's memoir is absolutely fascinating. The singer writes candidly, revealing much about the life experiences which have influenced his song-writing. (Bookseller magazine)

Neil Young has never been your average rock star and this is not your average rock star autobiography . . . Over the course of its 500 pages, Waging Heavy Peace is variously wildly idiosyncratic, unpredictable, bafflingly digressive, wryly funny, deeply moving, painfully honest . . . infuriatingly elusive and shot through with moments of rare insight and beauty, which you might say makes it the perfect literary counterpart to the 50-year career it describes (Guardian)

He's talking to you, not at you, unravelling himself as well, and you don't want it to end . . . You see rock and roll history from the inside out, and in the present tense (Independent)

Young appears bounteous and joyful, a genuinely happy hippy . . . Unusually for a rock memoir, this one is almost completely angst-free (Sunday Times)

Dryly hilarious . . . poignant . . . Waging Heavy Peace shows that Young is still in full possession of that stubborn, brilliant, one-of-a-kind instrument (Rolling Stone)

A real treat . . . he writes openly and movingly abut the key figures in his life...you feel you know Young better for reading it (Metro)

A ride through Young's many obsessions . . . 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. 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 (New York Times)

About the Author

Neil Young was born in Toronto in 1945, and later went to live with his mother in Winnipeg after his parents split up. He moved to California in 1966 where he co-founded Buffalo Springfield before joining the hugely successful Crosby, Stills & Nash, and then embarking on a stellar solo career. He has been inducted not once but twice into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which describes him as 'one of rock 'n' roll's greatest songwriters and performers'.

Young is an outspoken advocate of environmental issues and the welfare of small farmers - he co-founded Farm Aid in 1986. He is also active in educatonal projects for disabled children, and co-founded The Bridge School which assists children with physical impairments and communication needs.

Widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation, Neil Young continues to live on his ranch in northern California and in Hawaii.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neil Young - Renaissance Hippy? 20 Jan 2013
Neil Young's book is many things: it's a rock memoir, a stream of his consciousness, his apologia, a eulogy for his passed friends and collaborators, an eco-propoganda piece, high-definition audio propaganda piece, a love letter to his family, an unedited mish-mash, an insight to creativity, classic car story, anti-war campaign pamphlet, a confession and more. And I found it very compelling reading.

Nearly forty years on I find I'm much more into Neil Young's songs and music than I was in the seventies, but without really knowing very much of it very well. The rock memoir elements are really engrossing to anyone with some interest in Young, Crazy Horse, CSNY and Buffalo Springfield. But the power of the book is in the way Young's life story - his passions and his family - gradually unfold in amongst the tales of his collaborations and experimentations in music and film.

There's a real poignancy which comes through, partly in the account of his son's disability, partly through the loss of his friends and what might have been, and partly through Young's own fears around the aging process and loss of faculties. You feel he just had to get all this written down and off his chest, and it makes for an absorbing book.

He is currently expending considerable time and effort on promoting high definition digital audio and electric vehicles in the US, and personally I buy into his vision on both counts. Others may find those sections of the book less interesting.

The book does have the feeling that the editing process simply didn't happen, but I think it's just that he says what he thinks in his own way and his voice comes through powerfully. He's a one off for sure: an original rock'n'roll survivor, impatient and idealistic with regrets and flaws.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a one to one 3 Mar 2013
Yes it rambles and runs back and forward in time. All the same I loved this book finding it unput-downable.Like his music one does not know what to expect next and honestly I found it a fabulous read and a wonderful insight into how this unique artist ticks. The book describes the true individual he is both following his Muse and his many interests and pursuits. It was a real pleasure to share the recollection of these experiences with him through the medium of this book. Personally I found it uplifting that he could stick to his beliefs through thick and thin and stay true to his calling and aspirations.I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and was inspired. The only disappointment was getting to the end too quickly!
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I expected plenty of gushing, lengthy, worthy reviews of this book, (from Neil Young fans), all giving themselves helpful votes and slaps on the back for all the other gushing lengthy reviews. And I wasn't disappointed. It's only to be expected. I'll try to keep this short and impartial.

There are questions that have been in my mind for decades ( geddit?)- like "What in God's name was going through his head when he recorded Trans?".... "What did he think of "Sweet home Alabama"?"........What did he think when he first heard America's "Horse with no Name"?........"Why was he scowling for the entire 1970's ?" ........ He answers these in a satisfactory manner , a fact which to me, alone made the book worthwhile and deepens my respect for this complex character.

This is a huge book , both in size and importance. In many ways it's a rambling mess but it does give you a great insight into Neil Young and what makes him tick. However he is obsessed with the "word count" ( having presumably come to some agreement with the publisher). In fact he mentions the word count 3 times. This means the book is padded in a disgraceful way that I have never seen before. If you took away all the "great, fantastic, devoted, inspirational" adjectives, you could condense the book by about 10%. But it gets worse. Great swathes of text have been inserted merely to make the book larger. The low point comes when he describes a visit to Costco in agonising detail, describing how "all the flashy flat screen TV's greeting us with their shiny displays mirroring all of the neon lights in the ceiling' " (?) He then goes on to describe with appalling intricacy his purchase of a replacement head for his electric toothbrush.......

There are some really interesting segments in this book, however.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Marred by lack of organisation and editing 13 Jun 2014
By M. Barr
I am a huge Neil Young fan and I enjoyed large parts of this book. I can see why its rambling nature might have a certain charm for some readers. It does create a feeling of intimacy and, unlike so many other books of this kind, one does not suspect that a ghost writer hovered over the author's shoulder. However, it delivers much less than it promises and there is a price to pay for its fragmented structure. In fact, I am not sure it is reasonable to talk of a 'structure' at all. It reads as though someone put the pages in a bag and shook them all up. While this saves us from the possible dullness of a straightforward chronology, it produces a lot of irritating repetition and baffling leaps backwards and forwards. For example, Neil recounts a number of uncomfortable encounters on the road with the police, all the more unsettling because for a long time he was an illegal alien when he first started touring the U.S. About halfway through the book he says what a relief it was when he was finally granted residency. Then, on page 424, close to the end we get 'I had my own car, but no license because I was still an illegal alien and had no Social Security card. Driving my car was nerve-racking for that reason.' Yes, we know, because you told us several times in the first three hundred pages! The last we heard you were a bona fide U.S. citizen! There is so much hopping around in time, without any real justification, that it is sometimes more like surfing the web to learn about Neil Young than reading a coherent autobiography. It's very hard to get a sense of his growing reputation and success when you are moving from the 1980s to the 1960s and back again in half a dozen pages.

I did not completely regret buying and reading, however - there is some gold.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Neil Young
Neil rambles a bit but this is a good read. I've been waiting for his autobiography for years and was not disappointed.
Published 7 days ago by Martyn Jones (Shakey)
5.0 out of 5 stars I feel like I actually know the man
I really loved reading this book. As an autobiography, it doesn't follow the conventional formula of starting from the singer/songwriter's formative years and working through to... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Siltone
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Given as a gift and my Son was pleased with the book.
Published 16 days ago by Alfie 25
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 21 days ago by Mr. Ronald W. Cowell
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy but Happy.
There's something lovable about this untidy, sensitive, insightful bundle of a man. Yes he's eccentric for sure, but if you're looking for honesty in music and a steely... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dr Strangevole
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight into Neil Young the man, rather than Neil Young the...
This is not a literary work, but rather it seems to be an overview of what was occupying Neil Young at the time of writing (2012).
The style is very direct and conversational. Read more
Published 2 months ago by BrynG
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thanks to the h
Published 2 months ago by bob shankland
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read
Published 2 months ago by Alan Wadley
3.0 out of 5 stars Tell me why
As a soloist, or as part of Buffalo Springfield, or CSNY, or with Crazy Horse, Neil Young has been one of the greatest songwriters and performers in rock since the late 60's. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jeremy Walton
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting with individual style as you would expect
Published 2 months ago by radar
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