November 14, 1997 in Seven

‘Year Of The Horse’ On Tour With Young

Chris Hewitt St. Paul Pioneer Press

I thought I wasn’t a Neil Young fan. Then I saw “Year of the Horse.”

Part backstage documentary/bigger part concert film, “Year of the Horse” is a raw, compelling explanation of what Young means in the song “Big Time,” when he sings, “I’m still living the dream we had/ For me, it’s not over.”

Young and his band, Crazy Horse, obviously still love to play. Onstage, they often pull into an intense huddle, as if they’re so committed to the sounds they’re making that, for a while at least, they need to block out the audience.

There’s a hazy, indistinct beauty to the concert footage, which was shot by director Jim Jarmusch with Super-8 cameras.

The blurry, messy look of the scenes gives the candles flickering on the monitors a crude, magical beauty that draws you deeper into Young’s passionate, incantatory songs (incidentally, except for “Like a Hurricane,” he doesn’t do his hits).

The backstage stuff - some recent, some from 20 years ago - supplies a quick bio of the band, which has lost members to drugs and disease but which has remained a solid unit.

Young is sardonic and low-key offstage, but we also see him reading the band the riot act for a screw-up, and we’re reminded of his roots in interviews with his dad.

“Year of the Horse” is a modest film, but it gives a real sense of the energy, the sleep deprivation and the music that are what going on tour is about.


“Year of the Horse”

Location: Lincoln Heights cinemas

Credits: Directed by Jim Jarmusch, starring Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Running time: 1:47

Rating: R

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