A venerable rock star
flitting from the 50s to the 90s and repeatedly to his list of current bugbears with a style that makes easy reading but that, the further you get into the book, becomes frustrating, not least when he mounts one of the several hobby horses to which he is so devoted.
These are, in no particular order, Pono; the archives of his work that he lovingly collates, a second volume of which is due for release next year; a passion for movie-making that has resulted in a rash of films documenting most of his career; his love of the many rare cars he owns and the lengths he has gone to acquire them; his model trains, another lifelong obsession realised and maintained on a track in a purpose-built building on his ranch; the Lincvolt, an eco-friendly car that Young has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars developing and that he hopes will result in all motor vehicles being kinder to the environment.
Young embarked on this autobiography last year. He broke his toe walking on the ranch and figured he needed something to occupy his time while he recuperated. This coincided with him stopping drinking and smoking pot, which he says made him more focused but raised doubts in him about whether he could still write songs. If nothing else, Psychedelic Pill proves there is life — and art — without weed.
However, if Waging Heavy Peace is Young at his most focused, one can hardly imagine what a ramble it would have been had he been under the influence. Its disjointedness has a certain warmth, making the writer more likable for those who feel they already know him, to a degree, through his work.
Yet too often his random thoughts, particularly the ones praising the many musicians and producers with whom he has worked, are coloured by mediocre anecdotes and finished with corny exclamations along the lines of: ‘‘ Thanks, Jimmy!’’
In his acknowledgments, Young thanks all the people who appear in the book and who are going to be in his next one. Yes, his next one. ‘‘ There can never be enough pages for you,’’ he tells them. Some of us not mentioned in dispatches may view this generosity with trepidation.
Neil Young wrote his autobiography while recovering from a broken toe last year