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Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  9,683 ratings  ·  1,173 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Blue Rider Press
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Joanne Horowitz If you are talking about his relationship with and love for his wife, Pegi, then I agree with you. The way he expressed his feelings for her and then …moreIf you are talking about his relationship with and love for his wife, Pegi, then I agree with you. The way he expressed his feelings for her and then divorce her after 36 years for Daryl Hannah seems like a betrayal. Otherwise please clarify what you mean.(less)

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Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Neil and I are neighbors, sort of. For 30-odd years. That is, we live on the same mountain and I pass by his gate all the time when I'm on the way to some job or other (I'm in construction). We've been in the same places, sometimes, but we've never talked. I'm fine with that, and I'm sure he is, too. He's a public person but a private soul. People should be left alone when they want to be left alone.

This book is all the conversations we never had. A lifetime of rambling chitchat, some of it sil
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
Not the best biography I have ever read. In fact, honestly, not really a biography at all. If you’re looking for a bio of Neil Young, this is not the book to read. I found it incoherent, in the sense that it did not stick together. I am not sure if this was the effect the author wanted to create, a lot of random mini-stories thrown together. If so, he succeeded. If he was going for a biography, he failed. He says at one point he didn’t want a ghost writer; I think it actually needed one, or perh ...more
Tim Hicks
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Three stars by any rational measure - but somehow I'm giving it four anyway. It rambles, repeats itself, bogs down in detail or flies over important stuff.

It's easy to say it needs an editor or a ghost writer - but it wouldn't have been the same and might not have been better.

Near the end Young reflects that he might have been a better person. But throughout the book it's clear that for all his clashes and snap decisions, he has also spent time being a good person. We see who he worked with and
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Neil Young fans, memoirists, Creatives
Neil Young is one of my best friends. He, along with David Foster Wallace and Louis C K, are three people who I feel I can have a conversation with and be on the same page. I am starving for the stimulation of connection with like-minded souls. Wallace has said all he ever will, and I’ve read and listened to most of it. (I wonder if Neil Young will get around to reading him now that Young has moved into writing as a means of creative expression.) Louis C K continues to impress me with his ever-e ...more
Oct 26, 2012 rated it liked it
A very interesting book by Neil Young. For one it is not really a memoir of sorts, but more of an open-ended series of short essays on the nature of getting old, some music, hardcore car culture, and an obsession with the sound quality of digital recordings and the nature of how music has been affected by technology. All of it is interesting to me, because he's .... Neil Young.
He repeats himself a tad much (the book could use some extra editing in this regard) but still, its nice to get inside h
Michael Lisk
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. Rambling and repetitive. Too much car talk and not enough music talk. It's too bad more chapters weren't like Ch. 67 where Neil finally gives the reader an interesting glimpse into his songwriting process. Unfortunately, this occurs at the end of the book. ...more
Penguin Random House Canada
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
You know that feeling of scurrying away to a secret place with someone’s diaries in your hot little paws? (Err, okay maybe you don’t.) This is how it felt to read through the wonderfully thick Waging Heavy Peace. This is not a chronology of Neil Young in the way one might expect a rock memoir to be – this is a collection of his musing on life, on his past, on his family, on his loves, and his relationship with drugs. This is everything you want it to be. I think I smiled while I read it – litera ...more
Vincent O'brien
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was given this book for Christmas and although I have been a big Neil young fan for decades I wasn't really optimistic that I would enjoy it. But I really did. I know that some people will find it rambling but I think it's a gem. It's very personal and I got a real sense that Neil was trying to communicate something very complex, essential and yet dynamic in and everyday kind of way. This is not a book about celebrity. There are drug stories here and lots of little incidents about past mistake ...more
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ethan Miller
Jan 05, 2013 rated it liked it
This shit is classically exasperating, pure Neil Young. Like a lot of his albums over the past 15 years one gets the feeling that it might have been more powerful with a little reflection and editing in the process but that's not Neil's thing and the diamonds are still scattered around in a lot of rough here. As some critics have noted it is interesting to see the writing and flow get better as the book goes on. Because it's basically unedit
Dec 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, music
I love the man's music and I don't regret reading this, but it's a bit of a head scratcher. Have you heard of Chris Ware's Building Stories? The book is actually a box of independent pieces, meant to be picked up and read in any order, but to form a cohesive whole in whatever order you read them in. Young's book is like that as well: more of a collection of thoughts than a journey, told in whatever order they occurred to him, without any regard for linearity or theme. Some of it comes across as ...more
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
Extremely disappointing. Seriously, you don't understand the irony of describing a visit to a Hawaiian Costco? Where the big discovery was that they sold sonic care brush replacements? Who knew that hanging out with Neil was like getting stuck on the couch next to your friend's 98-year-old grandfather?

Neil's in the Rock n' Roll 1% and it's tremendous let down he chooses to spend most pages describing his thoughts on finances, poor business decisions, and advertising an idea for a new music servi
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
I love Neil Young and I love this book. It continually brought tears to my eyes. His very human and enjoyable style made reading such a pleasure. I did not want this book to ever end. A possible Springfield reunion gave me shivers down my spine. I went racing back to my old vinyl to listen to the amazing and wonderful songs mentioned in the book. Pono has me totally buzzed - I would love to stop listening to digital crap and hear again the wonderful full music that musicians make for us. No wond ...more
Bob Mustin
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Neil and I go back a long way. Not that we're pals, you understand, or musician-comrades. Part of the phenomenon of ‘sixties/‘seventies rock and folk music was that these musicians wrote songs that we could not only understand, but ones we could relate to from our own lives. They were visionaries, a step or two ahead of the rest of us - partially because they had already exposed themselves to a broader spectrum of society than that of those of us hunkered down in jobs, marriages, families, or ot ...more
John Martin
Neil Young is one of my favorite musicians so i I began this book with a bias. it's a book that rambles a bit but there are nuggets of gold, and you have to admire his vision and passion. ...more
Loring Wirbel
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I approached this book knowing full well that "Shakey" was the standard linearly-arranged biography (of a sort), and that this would be a rambling set of observations in typical Neil style. As a fan, I'm inclined to give the book four stars for its warm, curmudgeonly style, though Young is scarcely a literary genius. As a general-purpose read, it might be more of a moderate three-star, and some who are unfamiliar with Young's music might put it down in frustration - and Young understands that.

Greg Brozeit
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, autobiography
Not a linear autobiography, but more of free flowing monologue; this would be good for anyone who really likes Neil Young’s music—as I do. One can hear Neil’s voice clearly. He’s had an interesting, privileged life with some personal highs and lows. His love of family, friends, colleagues, music, cars, and travel comes through clearly, as does his passion for Pono, a digital music provider that brings back the sounds lost in itunes and cds, and alternative fueled cars. It’s repetitive at times, ...more
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love how Neil just went with the flow while writing this. It's as if you're hanging out with him and he remembers stories which connect to other stories. But even more than the easy way it reads, i respect his honesty and humbleness as he looks back on his life and apologizes to people in his past but recognizes that life is about choices and most of them are hard in one way or another.

I laughed out loud when he just gives shout outs to people like,
"Thanks, Larry!" He sprinkles these through
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, you can write another book, Neil, and I will read it. Especially if there is again a deluxe edition with music and video excerpts. Before reading this book, I loved some of your music, and hated some of it, but I always liked you for some reason. Now I feel like you are a friend and I know why I like you. That is how intimate this book is. And after all, this was my Christmas read and I wish you health, happiness, and success.
Update, new year's eve 2012, days after closing this book it is s
Simon Vozick-Levinson
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Highly recommended for any Neil Young fan. It's a great read – totally fascinating even when it's a little frustrating, just like him. Read my full review here. ...more
Apr 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, 1960s, music
OK, I am prejudiced. I have been a fan for such a long time now (where have I heard that line before?) that it is difficult to be rational and objective. And as time has gone by, and many of my former musical idols fail to provide the thrill they once did, Young's music speaks to me evergreen, his playing, singing, and lyrics as relevant to middle aged listeners as to young ones. I savored this book, read through most of it twice, and turned it into a soft, dog-eared resident of my recycling bin ...more
Paul Gleason
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Neil Young wants you to know that as of January of 2011, he has given up smoking pot. He also wants you to know that as a result of his weedless existence, he's suffering from a heavy case of songwriter's block. Finally, he wants you to know that despite his newfound inability to write songs, he has to be creative. He's Uncle Neil, after all, right? And what would Uncle Neil be without a creative project to suck up all his energies? Hence the composition of Waging Heavy Peace.

That's right: the i
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book and after I read the last page I wanted more. Neil Young writes this book almost like a series of journal entries that flip between his present day projects (like creating electric cars and restoring real sound through Pono) and brief stories of his life making music. It's amazing how much knowledge this guy has about the technical side of music - he really is quite a talented geek! As he tells his tale about starting out in such varied places as Winnipeg and Hollywood, and ...more
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-faves
when i read get in the van, i kept a running list of every quote i loved from it. i published it on my livejournal, so you know this was the early aughts. i wish i had done the same thing with this book, because there were so many great quotes or anecdotes that i instantly want to be able to find.

this book spurred a lot of conversations between me and other people, and it's probably one of the only times in my life that i'd wished i was reading it with a book club or along with another person be
John Parker
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Neil Young is the man. His story is not unlike that of other rockers, but his fascination with trains, audio, and making a difference is worth the time that it takes to enjoy this rather rambling tome. Not that I dilike rambling, Young does it naturally, like an extended solo on stage discovering new sounds or revisiting old musical thoughts. His writing is just like his music- intense, heartfelt, and even raw at times. Readers share and understand the passion that drives Young to create, collec ...more
M. Sarki
Dec 15, 2012 rated it liked it
It was good to spend some time with the real Neil. Sober now for seven months at the time of his last page it was obvious he was trying on voices and ideas about who he was and might be. Though goofy and rather emotionally stunted in parts, I found the book an honest attempt to get clean and come clean with his past and where he goes from here. Not the writer he thinks he is, there is a promise at the back of more books to come which I think might not be such a good idea. Neil Young needs a filt ...more
Bessie James
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think you have to be a long-time fan of Neil Young to enjoy this very strange, very revealing book. A man who wrote Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl in the Sand, and Down by the River in one day with a raging flu needs to be given a wide swath.

Neil is a multiple, ragged genius. Don't expect a conventional biography. Don't get annoyed with his weird passions -- Lionel model trains, old Cadillacs, a mania for sound quality, a Don Quixote about trying to change the world about electric vehicles. Neil Youn
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Don't let anyone tell you there are not great stories in this book, great reminiscences from Neil on the old days and the bands and the people etc. And if that is all you want read Shakey or one of the other many books of rehash that are out there. Many of us know these stories inside and out. What we don't know is what it's like to be Neil and travel around in his head and WHP provides that, I think, in a way that is as close as possible.
So, yeah, it is all over the place and it does cover som
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Yes, it was rambling at times and jumped from one topic to another but that's what was great. It felt like having a conversation (one sided) with Neil. I've been a fan from the moment I discovered his music about 35 years ago. This book reveals the heart and feelings of a multi talented man and now I'll always listen to his music with more appreciation and understanding. Thanks Neil! ...more
Brett C
Sep 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoirs
Dull and kinda boring. I am a fan of Neil Young and his down to earth song writting but this book wasn't very good. His Live at Massey Hall album made me read this to learn more about such a talented musician. But I was disappointed. The book reads as "it was a great time" and "those were great moments in my life" and rambles on into tangents. I had a hard time finding moments of clarity and meaningful insight. I enjoyed parts of the book but have no ambitions of trying reading this ever again. ...more
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Neil Percival Young OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and film director.

Young's work is characterized by deeply personal lyrics, distinctive guitar work, and signature nasal tenor (and frequently alto) singing voice. Although he accompanies himself on several different instruments—including piano and harmonica—his style of hammer-on acoustic guitar and often idiosyncratic sol

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