May 23, 2006

Heart of Gold - Neil Young / Jonathon Demme

Friends called up; en route to see Heart of Gold at Cinestudio. I went.

What a wonderful movie. I've been a Neil Young fan for eons - with a Neil Young songbook and a bunch of old records from the very start; my acoustic guitar playing is nothing if not inspired by / derivative of his. His new material from the album Prairie Wind, written and recorded as he was preparing for surgery to treat a brain aneurysm, was poignant - but even more so hearing his classics, sung from the perspective of far closer to the end of life than to the beginning.

So often he'd pull out a classic and there would be what can only be called foreshadowing in the lyrics. Old Man....Heart of Gold (and I'm getting old).....Comes a Time....the Old Laughing Lady....could she be time? It was a sweet movie, tender, but brave and strong. To see those old fingers and grey hair and wrinkled faces - up close and personal, pulling music out of the ether like the rest of us breath.

I thought of Warren Zevon, departed in 2003 (which seems so very recent to me). Mr. Zevon's last work The Wind was similarly conceived in the shadow of death, but seemed to vibe Dylan Thomas and
Do not go gentle into that good night, as much as anything - the bad boy of LA rock to the end. The songs on Prairie Wind seem like a good yoga pose - snuggling in to the end of life, getting comfortable, working the edges. Interesting that both albums contain the word wind.

Colin McEnroe has been writing of mortality of late; his recent blog post resonates as well, with this quote from E.M. Forster's A Room with a View:
We know that we come from the winds, and that we shall return to them; that all life is perhaps a knot, a tangle, a blemish in the eternal smoothness.

I thought of Warren Zevon. I thought of Pat Seremet. I thought of my father. I thought how blessed Neil Young was to go toe to toe with mortality, to survive, and to be wise enough to throw his own goodbye party / concert and to film it. May we all be so fortunate.

And then, may we all continue to rage against the machine.....

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