This weekend, witty folk / rock songwriter (and recent adopted Philadelphian) John Wesley Harding reviewed Neil Young‘s new memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, in the Wall Street Journal. Writing under his offstage name, Wesley Stace, he observes that Young’s book follows in step with Bob Dylan’s Chronicles and Patti Smith’s Just Kids – both of which were free of co-authors, both of which capture a specific moment in music history. However, this book has a unique slant:
But Neil Young—Californian hippie, Canadian folkie refusenik, Godfather of Grunge—isn’t so easily sold. “Waging Heavy Peace” will likely find most of its readers among his audience, the “Rusties.” That is a shame, because the book is terrific: modest, honest, funny and frequently moving—an antidote. “Waging Heavy Peace” is typical, in structure and tone, of a man who has seemed at times to be consistent only in inconsistency, both in his artistic output and in his views: a songwriter who once scrapped album after album and now releases everything, a guitarist who creates unearthly random noise yet is annoyed by minor mistakes on the recording of “Like a Hurricane.”
Wesley Stace, the author also known as folk singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding, will hold a book reading and signing tomorrow (Saturday, August 6th) at The Spiral Bookcase in Manayunk. Stace, who was born in England but resides in Philadelphia, has written three novels in the past six years, all of which have been critically acclaimed. On Saturday he will read from his latest book, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer. Here is what his website had to say about the plot:
“This ambitiously intricate novel is set against a turbulent moment in music history, when atonal sounds first reverberated through the concert halls of Europe, just as the continent readied itself for war. What if Jessold’s opera was a betrayal not only of Shepherd but of England as well?”
The reading/signing will take place on Saturday, August 6th from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.; The Spiral Bookcase is located at 112 Cotton Street, Philadelphia, PA.
In addition to his writing, Stace has had a prolific music career, releasing 15 EPs and albums under his stage name John Wesley Harding. If that name sounds familiar, it may be because he shares it with the 1967 Bob Dylan album and song. Harding currently has an upcoming album entitled The Sound Of His Own Voice, which features backing by the members of The Decemberists, as well as Peter Buck. He will perform at World Cafe Live on November 15th in support of the new LP; ticket information will become available soon.
Below, check out a video of Eugene Mirman and Wesley discussing Charles Jessold: