Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young

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Rod’s Non-Fiction Pick:
(Blue Rider Press, 2012)

Waging Heavy Peace is an introspective look back at the life and times of one of Canada’s most prolific songwriters, Neil Young. Written in a style that makes one feel like they are reading someone’s blog (Young claims to have made very few rewrites), the autobiography examines the events that have brought Neil to where he is today and the friends that have impacted and influenced him along the way.

Young reflects a lot on his passions: his collection of Lionel model trains, his collection of classic cars, his ambition of perfecting an electric car, his forays into the film industry, and his current obsession of restoring the classic sound of analogue and bringing that same sound to digital recordings.

He writes about his early days growing-up in his hometown of Omemee, Ontario and his move to Winnipeg at a young age, and the initial trials and tribulations of breaking into the music industry. He also speaks quite candidly about the illnesses that have plagued him and his family throughout his life, and his most recent brush with death in 2005.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this book, however, is how little Neil Young talks about his music and where his ideas and inspirations for songs came from. The book is less about the hits that made him famous and rather about the road that led him there.

Waging Heavy Peace feels like a closure for Neil Young, as though he needs to tie-up some loose ends before he can progress with the next stage of his life. Finally clean of alcohol and drugs, it’s a catharsis, and an engaging glimpse into the personal life of a true Canadian icon.

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