Sunday, February 2, 2014
WAGING HEAVY PEACE - Neil Young
A few times a year if I'm exceptionally fortunate I pick up and read a book that I enjoy so much that I don't want it to end. This is the first one of 2014.
Its just a stunner. Written stream of consciousness style Young goes from time zone to topic at random covering his life until now. He covers his hobbies, his art, his family and friends.
He is an insatiable collector - cars, guitars, trains, amps and it sounds like he has archived everything he has ever done musically.
He's a environmentalists but loves driving big gas guzzlers, so he's got an electric beast he tools around in. His environmentalism is of a practical type not the Luddite type that wants us to return to the cave.
If you are looking for insights in CSN here don't bother, they get a few mentions but its not about them. He does however confirm what fans have known, that Stephen Stills is a genius. High praise coming from Young.
He spends some of the book not actually apologising to people but admitting that he has been at fault as various times and things could have been done better but he is realistic enough to know whats done is done and can't be undone.
The style of writing is just so easy going, he has carried a laptop around with him for several months and sat and written when the mood takes him. He states at the start of the book that when he began this project he had just given up "smoking weed and drinking" and was straight for the first time since he was about 18 years old. The only trouble was he ended up not writing a song for months. The catalyst for the straightening out was a brain scan which is described as showing the beginning of dementia, something from which his father suffered.
One other project he is totally passionate about is getting top quality sound out to music buyers. He believes that the fan is being ripped off by MP3 and CD sound which supply 5% and 15% of whats on a master tape respectively. This project is called "PureTone" and he believes there will be a new generation MP3 type player developed that will revolutionize what we hear.
But Neil Young is about his art and his art is music and that dominates all, he explains why he experiments, why he has left bands because they won't attempt something new and he explains why Crazy Horse are the band, the band no matter what else he does, he always comes back to and who he makes his best music with.
I really loved this book, it does not flag at anytime, its interesting and will be even if you are not a music lover or Young fan. If you like good autobiography this is one all should enjoy.