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Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream Hardcover – 4 Oct 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 167 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 01 edition (4 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670921718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670921713
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 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

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't quite believe that someone whose music is so complex, beautiful, and challenging, could write a book so banal.

First, okay, NY was never going to write a standard memoir, and I didn't expect him to. But I did expect that he would at least be interesting, and give some insight into the music he has made over the years.

Nope. What we get instead are lots of digressions about Neil's hobbies (toy trains, old cars, how sound quality is not what it was), and a lot of hippie sentiment. Nothing wrong with hippie sentiment - but when all he ever tells you about the people that he worked with is that they were all beautiful, man, and wonderful, man . . . it gets a bit repetitive.

For the first half, you forgive him a lot of rambling - after all there's more to come, isn't there? Nope.

And then we're back to the hobbies . . . seriously, this man is obsessed with sound quality to an unhealthy extent. I like to think I'm a bit of an audiophile myself, but you get the feeling that he is hearing things that no one else is. Let it go, Neil.

Ultimately here is a 500-page book that could have been condensed into a 5000-word blog. It's not a memoir, it has no structure, it's boring even if you love NY, and it tells you almost nothing.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When an artist as venerable and important as Neil Young decides to sit and write an autobiography you hope for something special. An immensely prolific musician, Young has something of a reputation for being gnarly, cantankerous and difficult - after all this is a man who was once sued by his own record company for making music "that was uncharacteristic of Neil Young". As it turns out, despite it's jumbled narrative and occasional cul de sacs, the easy conversational style that Young employs in "Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream" makes the book both immensely readable and enjoyable. It's like listening to a grandparent reminiscing - the stories don't come in any particular order, occasionally they take strange tangents and they vary from the fascinating to the mundane.

The book finds Young in a drug and alcohol free state and the straightest he's been since he was eighteen. Recovering from a broken toe and needing to rest a while, he decides to both write his autobiography and start planning to record again with Crazy Horse (a band he refers to throughout in the third person, as a mystic entity) worrying a little if the muse has departed and whether he'll still be able to write songs in his new found sobriety. Despite having not written a new song for more than half a year, Young knows that patience is the key, " Songs are like rabbits and they like to come out of their holes when you're not looking, so if you stand there waiting they will just burrow down and come out somewhere far away, a new place where you can't see them. So I feel like I am standing over a song hole. That will never result in success. The more we talk about this, the worse it will get. So that is why we are changing the subject.
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