It was hard for me not to be biased while watching the new movie about one of my all time favorite rockers in Neil Young: Heart of Gold. I guess I should preface by noting some of my fondest early memories are of going on fishing trips to Cape May Point with my Dad, my uncle, my brother, and my cousin, with the soundtrack to those trips being either Neil, Bruce, CSNY, Jimi, or Stevie Winwood. For some reason I recall Neil the most. I guess I was taught early on to like Mr. Young. But you can't attribute my love for Neil all to my exposure at an early age, my uncle used to shove Sting down our ears as well, and I wasn't buying it.
I think one of the problems with music today is that people never really sit down to really listen to a CD. You always put on music in the background as you are driving, working, or whatever. The beauty of seeing Neil perform Prairie Wind live in Nashville, your full attention is devoted to the music. Neil gives short 20 or 30 second explanations to some of his songs which are so poignant and eye opening to the meanings behind some of his all time great tunes. Jonathan Demme really puts this together beautifully, "The camera tends to move only if Mr. Demme wants us to notice
something, like the worn-away varnish on Mr. Young's guitar; both the
camera movements and the editing take it nice and easy, like the songs."
Neil Young is from a different time and place, he mentions in the movie that at one point he was a chicken farmer. His songs may be about his prairie land, but they have themes with which all of us can relate. I think the timeless universality is what makes an artist truly great. He plays songs about his love for his daughter, his painful memories of his father losing his mind, he explains who the Old Man was. Neil even makes you think a little about God and what his plan for us was. He tells the story of his old guitar which he got some 30 years ago from Hank Williams. This old guitar ain't mine to keep, just playing it for a while.
Neil Young is the man.