Young and Demme Discuss Trunk Show Movie
Photo by Larry Cragg
On Monday at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film Neil Young Trunk Show was screened for free outdoors in downtown Toronto.
Contrary to rumors, there was no Neil Young appearance. As we reported skeptically back in August and tried to put to rest the rumor, Neil never planned to be there -- much less perform.
So it was somewhat amusing when the Canadian press went ballistic about Neil's "snub" of hometown T.O.. Macleans.ca called Neil's no-show "one of the Top 10 Worst Moments at TIFF." Toronto Life headlined "So much for a heart of gold: Neil Young cancels his free TIFF appearance". Etc.
The Toronto Star headlined "What concert? Neil Young pleads ignorance"?! Hello?! How about the Toronto Star pleads ignorance to old news?
But anyways. TheStar.com was a good sport and so was Neil in giving a pretty insightful interview into the whole fiasco. And Neil even shared a few thoughts on one of our favorite subjects -- The Muse.
From interview with Young on Toronto Star by Peter Howell:
YOUNG: Eventually you start to get sick of yourself doing the same thing over and over again like a machine.
The road is dangerous that way. I've got a lot of songs, so I kept bringing them in and trying them out. On my last tour I did a lot of different songs and it keeps changing. It's not always going to be like that!
I don't have any songs that I hate. You don't hate your children. You don't hate your friends.
Photo by Thrasher
From an interview with Director Jonathan Demme on Spinner by Liisa Ladouceur:
"The film was shot over two nights in 2007 at the Tower Theater in Pennsylvania during Young's 'Chrome Dreams II' tour. It eschews the chronology of the concerts' set lists, instead jumping around between electric and acoustic numbers both familiar ('Cowgirl in the Sand,' 'Cinnamon Girl') and rare ('Ambulance Blues, 'Mexico') and what passes for costume changes at a Young show (jacket goes on, jacket comes off). The focus is on the interactions between Young and his band, and Demme admits there was 'minimal' pre-planning before the shoot. 'I just tried to respond spontaneously to the music,' he says.
One impromptu moment captured in the film is when Young appears to forget the words to his hit 'Like a Hurricane.' Demme responded by putting the lyrics up onscreen, karaoke style. 'The whole point of that song is that the person telling the story gets lost in a hurricane,' Demme explains, laughing. 'So when Neil is wandering around the stage, forgetting to sing into the microphone, it was like he got lost, too. I thought it was perfect. And Neil liked it; he asked me to keep it in.'
Demme admits he's a 'Neil Young groupie' and says he's already planning a third film with the singer, although no details are forthcoming. And while he says 'nothing can ever compete with live music,' he still finds concert filmmaking exciting.
'We can present a more intimate view of what's going on on the stage.' he says. 'We can pull the audience out of their seat and put them inside the music. Because it's the music that's the message. It's what takes us on the journey.'"
Photo by Thrasher
From Behind “Neil Young Trunk Show”: Director Demme on Capturing a Legend in New Film : Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily by Karen Bliss:
“The first time I showed it to him, it was a lot like what it is now — a couple of songs changed — Neil just sat there and he was like, ‘My God, I don’t know what to say.’ He was amazed at himself. That made me so happy,” says Demme, grinning. “I feel like Neil got to see what we who love him see. I think he was blown away at what he does up there. I think he saw how hard he works, how much he gives to the process and it was Neil Young speechless which you never get to see. Neil’s got something to say about everything.
“Also, he was really happy the film seemed to suggest that there are ghosts of performance past in a theater like this,” Demme says. “Again, with the old-fashioned lighting that he used and all this old fashioned equipment, he really wanted to honor performance. He was amazed we were able to get the painter in it. So that’s his idea about honoring creativity in the myriad ways that we can be creative.”
So does one say Trunk Show is a great film or Young is great? “The film bears witness to his greatness,” Demme prefers. “The film isn’t great. The film is just a film. He’s great. The film wants to become one with him.”
A terrific interview with Demme on MSN by Seán Francis Condon:
"Seán Francis Condon: Is 'Trunk Show' the most elaborate sound mix you've done?
Demme: No. In fact, when we did 'Heart of Gold' - when I've done any of these performance films, whoever's doing them - you cut to the board mix. But then you go on to a movie mixing stage, and you break all the tracks down and you make a brand new mix that in theory is going to be the best sound tapestry and make sure you get everything right. We did 'Heart of Gold' that way, and Neil was at the controls. But here, the more we cut to the board mix, the more I thought it would be insane and kind of against the whole vibe of this show and the film to break that up. This sounds live to me! So, we really stuck with the board mix. Ninety-five percent of what we hear now is what the people in the room heard those nights. There are a couple of places where just one of the levers wasn't up enough and we couldn't hear something. Here and there. This is essentially like a bootleg soundtrack."
DEMME: "When I see him galumphing across the stage in the middle of No Hidden Path, so deep in a trance-state, making sounds that I've never heard and I find so thrilling … it's like if Tchaikovsky had been a guitar player. I just think in terms of the word master coming into my head. Look at this grizzled master just burning this stuff down."
Also, see Trailer for Neil Young Trunk Show Movie.
More on the Trunk Show concerts in Philadelphia.
Jonathan Demme and Neil Young
More on Jonathan Demme and Neil Young:
- Unscripted Interview: Demme & Young
- Director Jonathan Demme on "Prairie Wind"/Heart of Gold film
- "Heart of Gold" Premieres at Sundance Film Festival
- The Complex Sessions: Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Directed by Jonathan Demme
- Jonathan Demme and Neil Young (Search)