A new documentary from director Jonathan Demme captures an intense live performance by Neil Young. But equally intense
were the circumstances surrounding the Nashville concert, which took place months after Young underwent life-threatening surgery.
That surgery, and the brain aneurysm that prompted it, served as catalysts for Young to create some of the most compelling
and lyrical music of his career.
Prairie Wind is the album that emerged from Young's burst of creative energy. Completing the trilogy begun by Harvest
and continued with Harvest Moon, the record was hailed as renewed proof that Young is one of the greatest singers of
To perform the music of Prairie Wind for the first time before a live audience, Young assembled a band of friends
and fellow musicians. The roster ranged from his wife, Pegi, to pianist Spooner Oldham and singer Emmylou Harris.
It is those two concerts at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium that Demme filmed for Neil Young: Heart of Gold.
And in a nod to Young's music and the venue's history -- the Ryman is also the home of the Grand Ole Opry -- the musicians
performed in Western outfits.
Over the years, Neil Young has made excursions into country, blues, electro, rockabilly, and soul. Early in his career,
he formed the band Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills. He was then part of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young -- which eventually
morphed into Crosby, Stills and Nash when Young embarked on a solo career.
Jonathan Demme's other films include The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, and a 2004 remake of The
Manchurian Candidate. He also made the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense.
Neil Young: Heart of Gold had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Its director and star were both in attendance
in Park City, Utah. The film begins playing in more cities on Feb. 17