I’m about three-quarters through Waging Heavy Peace and liking it – for all its repetitions and frequent tedious digressions into his parallel automobile/model-train/audio obsessions.
It’s hard not to be in awe of a man who’s not only made such great music and packed so much into his years but who’s suffered such blows with his sons’ health – and the deaths of Danny Whitten, David Briggs, Ben Keith, Larry Johnson et al. I think he is a kind of benign egomaniac but essentially noble, and certainly a fount of energy and emotional intelligence.
Can Neil write? He can converse on the page, which is good enough. If you love Neil as I do, you will feast on the sporadic revelations and the vignettes, the stories from Laurel and Topanga Canyons. It’s hardly Chronicles, Vol. 1 or Keef’s Life, but I like the way it hops back and forth through the man’s rich experience. There’s some cool pix, too, including one of Neil and Joni at LA’s S.I.R. when Dame Joan popped in to record an off-the-cuff “Raised on Robbery” that’s never been released.
Above all, it’s Neil’s sheer honesty that wins you over. Few of rock’s alpha males would write so candidly about their early anxiety and sexual shyness around women. But then few people have enough self-confidence to express their self-doubt.
Neil quotes from one of the great David Briggs interview transcripts in Jimmy McDonough’s Shakey, but then he also indulges in an unbecoming swipe at a “sweaty hack” that one must assume is McDonough. Fact is, Shakey will tell you far more about Neil and his music than Waging Heavy Peace does. But the latter is like spending a week in Neil’s head, and it’s certainly worth shelling out for that.