Neil Young, Waging Heavy Peace
A fireside chat with the rock 'n' roll grandpa you never had
Have you ever wished your grandfather told cooler stories? Like, say, about driving his band across the Canadian prairies in an ancient hearse named Mortimer, or the time David Crosby fell asleep on his recording studio’s floor during a bout with sobriety? Never fear, Neil Young is here.
One of a recent string of aggressively unghostwritten celebrity memoirs, Young’s book, endearingly subtitled A Hippie Dream, is heavily populated with model trains, audiophile rants and lots of good old-fashioned “back in my days.” Luckily, that reminiscing is about one of the greatest musical careers of the 20th century, and the tone is so earnest and open that you quickly come to forgive any digressions that may occasionally take you off the narrative path. Besides, when he gets to the point, it’s always a fascinating one; just picture Young in 1969, during the recording of CSNY’s DÃ©jÃ Vu, returning to a motel room torn apart by the bush babies he was keeping in the bathroom “for company.”
Keith Carradine’s pitch-perfect narration is warm, bemused and occasionally acidic, California cool and just as engaging as a fireside chat with your grandpa ought to be. In print, the text tends a little heavily toward ellipses and short, stilted paragraphs – aloud it flows freely and naturally. You’ll soon forget you’re not listening to Young himself – and that you’re not actually related to him.