For the first time, legendary singer, songwriter, and guitarist Neil Young offers a kaleidoscopic view of his personal life and musical creativity. He tells of his childhood in Ontario, where his father instilled in him a love for the written word; his first brush with mortality when he contracted polio at the age of five; struggling to pay rent during his early days with the Squires; traveling the Canadian prairies in Mort, his 1948 Buick hearse; performing in a remote town as a polar bear prowled beneath the floorboards; leaving Canada on a whim in 1966 to pursue his musical dreams in the pot-filled boulevards and communal canyons of Los Angeles; the brief but influential life of Buffalo Springfield, which formed almost immediately after his arrival in California. He recounts their rapid rise to fame and ultimate break-up; going solo and overcoming his fear of singing alone; forming Crazy Horse and writing “Cinnamon Girl,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and “Down by the River” in one day while sick with the flu; joining Crosby, Stills & Nash, recording the landmark CSNY album, DÃ©jÃ Vu, and writing the song, “Ohio;” life at his secluded ranch in the redwoods of Northern California and the pot-filled jam sessions there; falling in love with his wife, Pegi, and the birth of his three children; and finally, finding the contemplative paradise of Hawaii. Astoundingly candid, witty, and as uncompromising and true as his music, Waging Heavy Peace is Neil Young’s journey as only he can tell it.
eMusic Review 0
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.