There used to be the school he attended. There lived three sisters, "too old for me." Here is the school named after his father, Scott Young. Here is where his home once was, and he and Bob get out of their cars and walk across a grassy lawn that was his mother's pride. In the summer, he slept every night on a cot in a pup tent, "to be closer to my chickens." In the morning, his dad would shout out the back door, and he'd have to wave his arm through the flap of the tent to show he was awake. Nobody is ever gone, he says. You keep them in your memory.
But on street after street, he looks out the car window and says, "All of this has changed." There's something in his tone that helps explain his singing voice, so often plaintive and mournful. Even when he sings, "Hey hey, my my, rock and roll can never die," it doesn't sound like a victory.
"Neil Young Journeys" is the third documentary about Young by Jonathan Demme, and follows close after "Neil Young Trunk Show" in 2009. "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" came in 2006. With the exception of the Omemee footage, it's mostly a concert film, made in 2011 at Massey Hall in Toronto, the city of his birth. It would be for the songs that you'd probably want to see it. It's an intimate performance portrait, divided among new material from his 2010 album "Le Noise" and many of his classics.
Demme adopts a straightforward approach for the first half of the concert. He mostly avoids audience reaction shots, and even the sound of applause seemed dampened. This is all deliberate, and the opening moments of the film show two of Young's sound mixers setting up their boards. The digital sound, I learn from Variety, was recorded at "twice the normal sampling rate" and foregrounds the lyrics and the powerful force of his guitar instead of embedding them, as sometimes happens, in the chaotic noise of a concert.
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