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Book Review: WHP offers a glimpse of his life, music

Neil Young’s book offers a glimpse of his life, music
By DAVID ULIN
Los Angeles Times

“Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream”

By Neil Young

Blue Rider Press; 502 pages; $30

NeilYoung’s “Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream” is surely one of the most idiosyncratic rock star autobiographies ever written.

A 502-page free-form series of digressions, it is by turns exhilarating and enervating, less a memoir than a self-portrait, with all the impressionism that implies.

On the one hand, “Waging Heavy Peace” is a mess — sprawling, improvisational, like a sloppy 40-minute jam on “Like a Hurricane.” But it is also revealing, even at times oddly beautiful, a stream-of-consciousness-meditation on where Young has been, where he thinks he’s going and, perhaps most revealing, where he is right now.

“Not that it matters much,” he writes, “but recently I stopped smoking and drinking. The big question for me at this point is whether I will be able to write songs this way. I haven’t yet, and that is a big part of my life. Of course I am now 65, so my writing may not be as easy-flowing as it once was, but on the other hand, I am writing this book. I’ll check in with you on that later. We’ll see how it goes.”

The smoking to which Young refers is, of course, weed, which he has long regarded as a key to his creativity. As such, his not altogether willing sobriety becomes one of the threads of “Waging Heavy Peace,” a through line that roots the book in the here and now.

Composed in 2011, during a period when Young had stopped making music, the memoir is as much a record of his creative doubts, his fears and uncertainties about growing older, as it is the story of his years with Buffalo Springfield or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

“At this age,” he writes, contemplating another run with Crazy Horse, his longtime backing band, “I think relevancy is the big challenge. We need to be sure the new songs and music are ready and are meaningful to us. They are our ticket, our vehicle to the future, and without the new songs we are just reliving the past.”

As it turns out, the Crazy Horse reunion did happen; Young and the band released a cover record this year, and an album of new songs, “Psychedelic Pill,” comes out at the end of the month.

It is compelling to see a figure as prominent as Young — arguably one of the five or 10 most influential figures in the history of rock ‘n’ roll — express himself in such an unfiltered way.

This off-handed directness has long been the key to Young’s music; he’s as unpretentious as they come. Even “Trans,” his 1982 electronic album, had its roots in day-to-day experience, inspired by his son Ben, who was born with cerebral palsy and requires around-the-clock care.

And yet, Young is mercurial and easily distracted, as evidenced by the peripatetic nature of his career. He followed his most commercial record, 1972’s “Harvest,” with a suite of albums (“Time Fades Away,” “On the Beach,” “Tonight’s the Night”) known among his fans as the “Ditch Trilogy,” for their distance from the middle of the road.

He walked away from every group he ever played with, famously breaking up with Stephen Stills midtour in 1976 by sending Stills a telegram that read, “Funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach, Neil.”

Tellingly, that anecdote doesn’t appear in “Waging Heavy Peace.” There’s a limit to the art of revelation, it appears. But it remains instructive, suggesting something about Young’s approach to this project as well.

Like his discography, it is a memoir without apparent shape — or more accurately, one whose shape emerges from its shapelessness, from its tendency to wander, from the ebb and flow of Young’s attention, from the play of memory.

In many ways, it unfolds in real time, with ruminations on his sobriety, on extra-musical projects such as the Lincvolt (an electric car) or PureTone (a system for reproducing digital sound in high fidelity) as well as ongoing updates on the book itself.

“I have been clean now for seven months,” he writes in one of the closing chapters. “That is a good long time. I still feel cravings … I haven’t written a song in more than half a year, and that is different for me. Of course I’ve written over ninety thousand words in this book, and that is different for me, too.”

GoErie

Ottawa Citizen Review of Waging Heavy Peace

WAGING HEAVY PEACE: A HIPPY DREAM
Neil Young Blue Rider Press $31.50

Linda Ronstadt once warned her protege Nicolette Larson not to get involved with Neil Young. He doesn’t live in the real world, she said.

Ronstadt was right. Young lives mostly in a world he has constructed for him-self, as is clear from the first pages of his remarkable autobiography Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream.

On page two, Young describes bringing his infant son Ben, born a non-verbal quadriplegic, into the room in which his sprawling model train railroad is set up.

“Sharing the building of the layout together was one of our happiest times,” he writes. “He was still in his little bassinet when the Chinese labourers originally laid the track, thousands of them toiling endless hours through the days and night. He watched as we worked.”

Young’s imagination is such that he can turn himself into a low-paid coolie excavating a railway, and bring his baby son fully into this make-believe world.

A few pages later, Young recalls a day when David Crosby and Graham Nash were at his northern California ranch working on an album.

“I saw David looking at one of my train rooms full of rolling stock and stealing a glance at Graham that said, ‘This guy is cuckoo. He’s gone nuts. Look at his obsession.’ I shrugged it off. I need it. For me it’s a road back.”

That passage reminds a reader of Young’s wistful I Am A Child, a song he wrote for Buffalo Springfield’s last album. “I am a child,” the song begins, “I’ll last awhile, You can’t conceive of the pleasure in my smile.”

…read more on: OttawaCitizen

Driving around with Neil at the ranch

September 19, 2012, 10:35 am
Well Hello, Mr. Soul
By DAVID CARR
Like a lot of people, I often read something in the magazine that involved a writer going to see this or that music/film/theater icon and think about how lucky that writer was. This week it was my turn.

My pinch-me moment was getting to ride around in a car on Neil Young’s ranch for several hours. Not because I am a Neil Young person per se – I saw the “Rust Never Sleeps” tour, “Trans” and have seen him play with Crazy Horse and solo several other times – but because, well, he’s Neil Young. It’s hard to think of an artist of any genre who has endured so long with as much significance as Young. And over and over, he did it his way, ignoring convention and expectation on general principal.

read more on 6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/well-hello-mr-soul and Don’t miss the photos (on cars, model trains.

NY Times: Neil Young comes clean

September 19, 2012
Neil Young Comes Clean
By DAVID CARR

Driving down the hill above his ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains, south of San Francisco, Neil Young took a deep whiff of the redwood forest momentarily serving as the canopy for his 1951 Willys Jeepster convertible.

“I can still remember how it smelled when I first pulled in here — I was driving this car,” he said, recalling the trip in 1970 when he bought the place and named it Broken Arrow, after the Buffalo Springfield song.

The author of some of the spookiest, darkest songs in the American folk canon seemed jolly on this late-August day. Even if he was accompanied by a reporter, generally not his favorite species of human, the motion soothed him. “I’ve always been better moving than I am standing still,” he said.
Young, 66, spotted this land out the window of a plane banking out of San Francisco four decades ago and now owns nearly 1,000 acres of it. His song “Old Man” is a tribute to the caretaker who first showed him the place.

“I ran out of money, so I had to sell some of it,” he said. “That’s O.K., because it was too big. Everything happens for a reason.” He kept his eyes on the narrow road through the giant redwoods.

It was hard to reconcile the affable guy motoring along on a sunny day with his past incarnations: the portentous folkie of “Ohio,” the rabid anti-commercialist who gave MTV the musical middle finger with “This Note’s For You,” the angry rocker who threatened to hit the cameramen at Woodstock with his guitar. He was happy partly because he was here.

“For whatever you’re doing, for your creative juices, your geography’s got a hell of a lot to do with it,” he said. “You really have to be in a good place, and then you have to be either on your way there or on your way from there.”

We would spend a few hours creeping along — he drove slowly but joyfully, as if the automobile were a recent invention — on our way there or on our way from there, the ranch where Young lives with his wife, Pegi, and their son, Ben. His longtime producer and friend, David Briggs, who died in 1995, hated making records here, deriding the hermetic refuge as a “velvet cage.”

read all on NY TIMES, Neil Young Comes Clean (has also a nice photo of Neil)

Waging Heavy Peace release date

The release date for Neil’s book has been moved up:

Neil Young “Waging Heavy Peace”

Previous estimated arrival date:  October 09, 2012 – October 15, 2012

New estimated arrival date:  October 01, 2012 – October 05, 2012

Random Quote

“I sang for justice and I hit a bad chord, but I still try to sing about love and war”
by -- Neil Young, Cincinnati 2011

Neil Young on Tour

  • Neil Young on Tour

Sugar Mountain setlists

Tom Hambleton provides BNB with setlists, thankfully. His website is the most comprehensive searchable archives on the Internets about anything Neil Young related setlists. Goto Sugar Mountain.

Other Neil News

  • Neil Young News

Rust Radio

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HH-Radio + NY Info

  • http://www.neil-young.info/
  • NY-Info-Radio

Human Highway

  • http://www.human-highway.org/

Oh My Darling Clementine

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