Pick Your Pop Culture

So, I've like written about music for 25 years, and like I've got a lot to say and not enough people to pay me for it, and like I like to write about TV, and books, and movies, and stuff like that.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Few Words About Neil Young's Movie

Nine years ago, Jim Jarmusch took a crew armed with Super-8 cameras to a couple of Neil Young and Crazy Horse concerts. The results, mixed with some hotel room interviews and some rare backstage footage from 1976 and 1986, were released in 1997 as “The Year of the Horse.” I finally got around to watching this documentary yesterday.

The backstage and interview footage, while mildly interesting, is rarely revealing. I suppose the best part was when Neil called guitarist Frank Sampedro to his room to fix a computer problem. Although the 1986 scream-fest between Neil and bassist Billy Talbot over a backing vocal mix-up was fascinating, I’ve since been told this was edited from a much longer fight which had been shown before.

Anyway, you won’t care much about the talking, but the music soars. In 1996, Neil Young and Crazy Horse were touring behind “Broken Arrow,” which is not one of their best records. But, live, they were coming together stronger than ever, and the concert footage is absolutely glorious. An incandescent version of “Fucking Up” starts things off, and while none of the other songs hit that righteous level of fury, they are damn beautiful. Watching Neil and Sampedro stare straight into each other’s eyes is a treat as they drive that rich, overloaded guitar sound into one glorious burst of passion. The last part of the movie welds footage from a 1976 performance of “Like a Hurricane” onto two or maybe three different 1996 versions. I could live without the Sonic Youth-inspired free form noise at the long end, but the actual song is still gorgeous.

If perhaps you have the live album “Year of the Horse,” be advised that none of the songs in this movie are on the record, and vice versa. I don’t know why this movie stayed out of my sight for so long, but it’s a pretty cool thing to have finally seen.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don’t know why this movie stayed out of my sight for so long... "

and who cares if it did? Geez.. so pompous.

8:25 PM  

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