Despite a continual shroud of mystery, Neil Young’s autobiography Waging Heavy Peace gives you more than a glimpse into the life of rock’s legends. (Some of them were probably better left unknown.) Ahead of the new Neil Young/Crazy Horse album, Psychedelic Pill, Substance gives the run-down on 10 things we’ve learnt from the book.

Life-changing is how we’d describe Shakey – a fantastic Neil Young biography by Jimmy McDonough, which was the closest anyone had gotten to delving into Young’s tempestuous, intangible head. Drug dens, flopped records, meeting Charles Manson, McDonough’s book had it all (and is worth reading before jumping into Waging Heavy Peace).

But it was not the same as hearing from the big man himself. And now we finally can – just ahead of the release of his latest album, Psychedelic Pill, out tomorrow (get in). 

1. Neil Young’s favourite bands include Foo Fighters and Mumford & Sons
 
You think he jams with these guys for the sheer hell of it? Of course not. This is Neil we’re talking about – the Godfather of Grunge. He plays with these guys on his own accord, on his terms, not for some publicity stunt or to look "down with the kids". I’ve often wondered if Neil jumps around the front room listening to ‘The Pretender’. Turns out, he does.
 
2. He got the clap
 
He’s used to people clapping him in applause, but probably not used to catching the clap. Neil recounts how he has always been sexually unconfident and was one day given tips by a secretary on how to please a woman. She then let him demonstrate if he’d been listening about ten minutes later. Smiles all round, or so he thought. Then it started to sting when he pissed. 
 
3. He’s obsessed with Pono (AKA PureTone)
 
A lot of the book is nothing more than an advert for Pono – Neil’s revolutionary idea to make digital music better.
 
Formerly known as PureTone, Neil’s idea is quite tough to explain fully, but Pono basically heightens the quality of music screening, from 128kps to over 300kbps. With enhanced equalizing techniques and filters, it gives you something 20 times better than MP3.
 
Celebrities have already endorsing it, and the Pono player has already been unveiled. It’s all about a war on Apple, but one of respect rather than hatred. Thus this is where the title of the book comes in.
 
4. He hates journalists, especially from the Associated Press
 
Two journalists once twisted an interview by Neil into some kind of pro-Reagan rant. Neil read it, hated it, and withdrew from interviews for years. He explains why “dickheads” damaged him so much.
 
5. Neil broke his little toe and stopped touring for a while
 
Apparently, Neil likes a dip in the swimming pool. Who doesn’t? But with him, nothing is without drama. Last time he went in, he smashed his little toe. Poor Neil then stopped touring for a while (the bastard).
 
6. He met his first wife after just seeing her in a magazine
 
If I married everyone I saw in a magazine, I would have married Mila Kunis hundreds of times over.
 
Neil – after the success of Harvest and After The Gold Rush – saw actress Carrie Snodgrass in a movie and, after reading an interview in a magazine, decided he had to be with her. So, by 1972, he was.
 
7. Neil liked Charles Manson
 
Rarely cited fact, but we’ve never heard it exactly from Neil’s mouth. Neil met Charles Manson in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, after hearing what a great guitarist he was. Neil even recommended Manson to his then manager, and all seemed normal. But it wasn’t, as we now know. In one story, he recounts going to Manson’s house and meeting a rather spaced out, somewhat timid girl there. Turns out it as one of Manson’s victims. A chilling chapter indeed.
 
8. He’s done a lot of drugs. A lot.
 
Not ten pages go by without some reference to weed, coke or alcohol. Though he’s been clean for a year, wasn’t always the case. I always knew drugs had vomited out his 80s Trans-era trash, not that he’d been practically an addict his whole life. Now he’s not.
 
9. He likes cars
 
He has like an entire barn full of them.
 
10. He will burn out, not fade away
 
Despite the illogical tangents, the rambling opinions and the overblown self-importance, it’s pretty evident that Neil has a lot of life left in him.
 

Health scares, problems at home and situations where he probably should be dead (see 8. He's done a lot of drugs), Neil is going strong. He's hinted at another book, and reveals there are multiple films, albums, and tours still to be had before he calls it a day.
 


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