Young, Jarmusch Attend Year Of The Horse Screening

"Made loud to be played loud."

After the lights had dimmed, and the eyes of the audience attending the final

night of the 40th San Francisco International Film Festival--a screening of the

Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Stranger Than Paradise, Down By

Law, Mystery Train) directed Neil Young and Crazy horse

biopic/documentary Year of the Horse--were aimed at the screen, a troop

of shaggy haired men quietly took their seats in a reserved area of the Castro


Neil Young and Crazy Horse had arrived.

They were just in

time to hear Jarmusch take the stage and joke that he had no speech prepared,

but was going to "ramble on for 10 minutes." Jarmusch, an imposing figure in

black--jeans, boots and coat--with a head of rockabilly hair, recalled that as

a teenager he'd listened to Young's "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" about

1000 times.

But going on the road to film Year of the Horse had, he

said, allowed him to get to know the men behind the music that has moved him

for so many years. "I got to love them as people," said Jarmusch in what

appeared to be a send-up of Academy Awards speeches. "I don't know what I'm

saying...they're a pain in the ass...They should just get rid of that Neil


He noted that everyone from Young's manager, Elliot Roberts, to the

Crazy Horse guys themselves were in attendance. "Got the whole posse here,"

said Jarmusch. "So if you don't like the film, watch out...just leave by the

side exit."

Though it wasn't because he doesn't like his film, Young and

his band did slip out so they could head over to the Trocadero to play two

sets. It took the first set--during which they delivered "Piece of Crap,"

"Downtown," "Rockin' In the Free World" and some new songs--to warm up, but by

set two they were rockin' like the world was coming to an end. "Cowgirl In the

Sand" and "Big Time" blew the roof off the sucker, as they say.

But back

to the film...

Year of the Horse--"Proudly filmed in Super 8, 16 mm

and Hi-8 video"--is a stoned, often incoherent, blurry, self-absorbed and

indulgent look at Young and his Crazy Horse cohorts. In other words, it is a

simply awesome rock & roll film that should, like much great rock & roll,

draw a line in the sand, alienating those who don't get it even as it wins over

those who love the loud, raw noise that Crazy Horse has been pounding out for


"Made loud to be played loud. Crank it up!" flashed on the screen,

appropriate advice for a film whose soundtrack consists of some of the

heaviest, primal rock being made in the '90s.

Jarmusch has taken footage

shot while the band toured Europe last year (on stage, in hotel rooms, in the

bus), with older footage from the '70s and '80s and created an impressionistic

portrait that gets to the heart of Young and Crazy Horse's music, but leaves us

knowing little more about Young himself. I'm sure that's quite to the

mysterious Mr. Young's liking.

Highlights--beyond awesome performances of

such songs as "Big Time," "Like A Hurricane," "Slip Away" and "Tonight's the

Night"--include Young lighting a cloth flower arrangement he finds in a hotel

room on fire, Jarmusch and Young discussing the old and new testament and

deciding that God is, indeed, unhappy with how man has turned out as they

travel on a tour bus across the country and several yelling matches between

Young and his bandmates about song arrangements.

At one point a fan

interviewed in Europe says something about "the Neil Young universe." Year

of the Horse will certainly take you there.