Neil Young: Book Author

"Some of them are complete pieces of s**" - Neil Young discussing his own recordings.
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photo credit: Maria Ives

photo credit: Maria Ives

In the past few years, a number of rock legends have picked up the proverbial pen to set the record straight on their personal stories. Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Sting have all told their tales in book form, and this year has seen a lot of icons hit the book store. So, just in time for the holidays, we’re offering brief takes on some of 2012′s best rock tomes.

THE BOOK: Waging Heavy Peace

AUTHOR: Neil Young

THE DEAL: Years after Young tried to sue author Jimmy McDonough to prevent the release of the exhaustive biography Shakey (even though he had done a number of interviews with the author for the book), Neil now tells his own story… in very Dylan-esque non-linear style.

PAGES: 497

neil young waging heavy peace Neil Young: Book Author

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED:

  1. If you’re a Neil Young fan because you love After The Goldrush and Rust Never Sleeps, but you really can’t stand Trans or Landing On Water, don’t feel bad.When discussing his many archival projects (including releases of his live recordings and a 10-disc box set), he says: “The fact that I want to create a chronological history of my recordings and supporting work is proof-positive that I am an incurable collector, confronted with an amazingly detailed array of creations that I have painstakingly rat-holed over the years. Some of them are complete pieces of s***, but they have their place in my chronological obsession.” As for his condition as an incurable collector, he lists “cars, trains, manuscripts, photographs, tape recordings, records, memories and clothing” as some of the things he collects.
  2. He still may release the long-unreleased Homegrown album. 

    In the mid-’70s, Young worked at such a furious pace, he didn’t have the opportunity to release all of the music he was working on. He was going to release an acoustic-based album called Homegrown, recorded in Nashville with a band that included the late Band drummer Levon Helm. Instead, he put out Tonight’s The Night, which had been finished for two years by then. “I had delayed it originally, having felt it was not yet the right time for release, and also I had a sense that it needed something else added to it for perspective.  I did find those tracks eventually, and then the record was complete.  Now when I listen to it, I am not sure about that decision.”

  3. He’s still trying to explain his pro-Ronald Reagan comments from the ’80s. 

    He dedicates a short chapter to this. He had done an interview with two AP reporters in his bus: “They came on the bus and started right off making derogatory remarks about Reagan. They were presumptuous; I could see they thought they had me al figured out.  I was that hippie who wrote ‘Ohio’ and ‘Southern Man’ and sang with that group CSNY. I told them I did not believe in painting someone with one brush… I liked Reagan for some things he had said. Reagan had talked about the need for communities to come together to help themselves in ways that I thought were reasonable, and I told them that I did not believe that he was the villain so many had painted him to be.” They wrote a story making Young look like a Reagan supporter.  “Since the moment I met those two AP jerks, I have been trying to straighten out what they said. What they said I said.”

Young’s story doesn’t appear to be slowing down. He reunited with Crazy Horse earlier this year, releasing two new albums, Americana and Psychedelic Pill.

– Brian Ives, CBS Local

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