In his memoir â€śWaging Heavy Peace,â€ť released last week to high praise from critics, Neil Young reveals that he wrote â€śCinnamon Girl,â€ť â€śCowgirl in the Sand,â€ť and â€śDown by the Riverâ€ť in one dayâ€”while sick with the flu. That sort of forward motion, even in a compromised state, makes sense in the context of this admission from the book: â€śI have a transportation thing. Cars, boats, trains. Traveling. I like moving.â€ť
The life story by the legendary singer, songwriter, and guitarist, driven mostly by stream-of-consciousness, traces a winding route from a childhood bout with polio, to leaving Canada for Los Angeles in 1966 to live out his pot-fueled musical dreams, to co-founding Buffalo Springfield, joining Crosby, Stills & Nash, going solo, and forming the band Crazy Horse.
Now mostly settled in Hawaii and on his northern California ranch, Young has reignited a childhood passion for tinkering with rare Lionel trains and collectibles. Thanks to holiday gifts from his wife Pegi, he has an extensive collection, all displayed behind glass in a room on the ranch. It was right around the time that Ben, the second of his three children, was born a quadriplegic that Young was getting back into trains. â€śSharing the building of the layout with Ben is one of the happiest timesâ€¦The display and layout are a Zen experience," he writes. They allow me to sift through the chaos, the songs, the people, and the feelings from my upbringing that still haunt me today â€¦ Months go by with boxes piled everywhere and trains derailed with dust gathering on them. Then miraculously I reappear and clean and organize, working with every little detail for hours on end, making it all run perfectly again. This seems to coincide with other creative processes.â€ť