Music is very important to me. I’m not a musician by any stretch of the imagination, but music, lyrics, melodies have provided the sound effects for certain events and memories throughout my life, and still do today. Neil Young, and what I affectionately call “Classic Rock,” provided the soundtrack to many a fond memory driving with my father in his work van throughout the ‘back roads’ of my childhood. Like Neil, my dad’s preference is to be one with nature and appreciate the beauty of country lanes and their untouched surroundings and slower pace rather than the rush and congestion of the “big roads.” Initially, this is why I wanted to read “Waging Heavy Peace” (Blue Rider Press); to reconnect to those simpler days, to see if what I loosely recall about that genre and the artists that influenced generations of young musicians still holds true.
Like one of the frequently repeated ethos sprinkled throughout Neil Young’s memoir, “be great, or be gone,” I decided to read it in a BIG way. Inspired by being in Mr. Young’s audience back in June in New York City where he was interviewed by Patty Smith in an intimate, question and answer session aimed at teasing the audience about the soon-to-be released book, I wasted no time in ordering a limited production, deluxe, signed edition of “Waging Heavy Peace” and waited anxiously for it to arrive, hoping (praying) that the book would not disappoint in both it’s unique binding and in content.
Disappointed, I was not. This is probably the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen, with its crimson gilt-edge pages, linen wrapped hard cover with matching slip case, and embossed cover- and spine-art that is simply magnificent. I knew I was about to embark on a special ride.
“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.”
The prose inside this impressive book is an unexpectedly tender stream-of-consciousness from a man who has lived a lot of life, has been blessed with many gifts, and has made some mistakes along the way. In “Waging Heavy Peace,” Neil Young shares his raw thoughts in a voice so characteristically him, yet refreshingly vulnerable. Even the sometimes hard to follow order of the book gave his words and memories an undeniably endearing quality.
“I have been with some of you for a real long time, and others of you don’t have the foggiest notion what I am or what I stand for…” The latter may have been true in my case, but not any longer. After reading “WHP”, taking my time to appreciate each descriptive flow of words or each rant about the poor quality of sound nowadays (see Pono below), I feel I have an intimate understanding of this socially awkward, oft-times obsessive, genius singer-songwriter who clearly needed to wage some heavy peace for things that happened along the way.
Wish I were sitting shotgun in Lincvolt* driving the back roads with Neil now, listening to Harvest Moon, “Come a little bit closer, hear what I have to say…We know where the music’s playing, let’s go out and feel the night. “ That would be another truly special ride.
“So I have been lucky and life has gifted me. I know who I am and what I’ve been part of, but the music speaks when words can’t. I will never forget those times.” - Neil Young
*Lincvolt is Neil Young’s pet project. The world's first Series Hybrid Electric car with a generator fueled by biomass. GO CLEAN. GO FAR.
Pono, a portable music player and accompanying high-quality audio service coming next year. Pioneered by Neil Young with the ultimate goal of providing the highest quality digital sound to those who want to be able to ‘feel’ music the way it was meant to be experienced.