Friday, October 26, 2012

"Waging Heavy Peace" by Neil Young

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 his head and this is what the book is really about.  And what concerns Young is the writing of the book itself - in many ways it reads like a private journal to himself, and he is sort of in a wonder how he can write a book.  He is also doing this sober, which is totally new to him.   He writes about not writing a song for a year due to what he thinks is the lack of drinking and smoking pot.  But he's totally open to new possibilities, and one feels that this book is just another avenue for him to dwell in.
The various health issues that run through his life and his family's is quietly depressing to me.  This is very much a book by a 65 year-old man.   in many ways he's inventorying what's important in his life and he looks back not as a nostalgic trip, but more to see how things could have been different or  changed if possible.

Also a large part of the book really goes into his obsession with car collecting – and he has a strong aesthetic with respect to a certain type of American cars from the 60's and 50's.  Young, is without a doubt, is an otaku.  Meaning that he collects things that are important to him, and can obsessively discuss or write on that subject forever.  For him, each car has a certain narrative or history, and it sounds like if he does another book, that will be the subject matter.  He also collects toy trains and he has a firm understanding of its history that is impressive.

I am not a fan of Neil's music, I like some of it, but it doesn't move me the way it moves other people.  But still ,what I find interesting is his love of the sound of a guitar or amp.  His writing style is very simple, but he waxes poetry when discussing sound in a certain type of environment.  The beauty of the hum of an electric guitar or the sounds the amps make when turned on but not in use.  All of this is important to Young's aesthetic and how he makes his music.  Without a doubt he loathes the sound of CD's as well as the MP3.  It seems he has invented a new version of the MP3, where the sound is recording studio quality.  And this book is almost an info-commercial with respect to his company that he started for the purpose of making a better sound quality.

“Waging Heavy Peace” is not a major memoir by any means.  But it is an interesting piece of work by an artist who is still thinking things out.

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