Neil Young: Heart of Gold
This concert film, combining the two nights Neil Young played at Nashville’s legendary Ryman auditorium in August 2005 finds the Canadian troubadour in rude health and sounding as soulful as ever. Amazingly, Young played the two gigs just a few short months after he was diagnosed with a potentially fatal brain aneurism. He was, of course, operated on successfully, but the set-list, which includes a number of old favourites, showcases songs from Prairie Wind, the album Young wrote in an awful hurry when he thought he didn’t have long to live.
Director Jonathan Demme takes a no frills approach to filming the twin gigs, which he seamlessly stitches together. After some brief interviews with Young and his troupe of veteran musicians, Demme cuts right to the chase filming the performances in various stages of close up from the audience point of view. Heart of Gold is a much more straightforward concert movie than Demme’s more conceptual Talking Heads film, Stop Making Sense, but that suits the nature of the performance he’s capturing on film. And it makes a nice contrasting companion piece to Jim Jarmusch’s broader in scope 1997 concert tour documentary, Year of the Horse.