Friday, July 18, 2008

An Evening with Neil Young

For some time I have been excitedly awaiting the Thursday midnight showing of the Dark Knight, but it was overshadowed by another film I saw earlier in the evening...
I went to see the premier of Neil Young's new film CSNY:Deja Vu. It was a truly special evening, and Neil Young and others from the film were in attendance. I'm still processing it all today and it's hard to even write about it now. Just being so close to my all time hero Neil Young was enough to get to me, but the evening turned out to be something entirely more poignant and sincere...

Go see this film if you can. The movie documents the 2006 Freedom of Speech tour that launched CSNY around the country in protest of the current wars. After writing his Living with War album, and releasing it for free over the internet, Neil took things a step further and took the music on the road, inviting ABC war correspondent and writer Mike Cerre to "embed" with the band. The film combines documentation of the history of the band with relevations into how these 60-something rockers came together once again. Along the way they encounter impassioned supporters as well as those who storm out of the concert halls, waving middle fingers in the air as the band launches into Neil's "Let's Impeach the President" anthem for today. They campaign for veterans running for office, speak with veteran support groups as well as TV and radio hosts, both for and against their stance. Interviews with soldiers and families who have lost their sons and daughters change the film from a tour documentary into a call for action against the regime in power right now.

Neil & Mike Cerre were joined by Iraqi war veteran Josh Hisle and Gold Star Mother Karen Meridith (who were both in the movie) on stage after the showing for a few comments. Terry and I were sitting right in the front row, mostly because by the time we got there (one hour before the show) that's all that was left! But as it were, we were right there up close to Neil and his guests. It was the first time that Karen had seen the film and the second for Josh. Tears were flowing all around as Karen talked about her reaction to the film and asked the audience to remember her son and what he died for. As his tour in Iraq came to an end, her son had packed up and was waiting with his buddies to board a plane home, when they got the word that they had been reassigned for another year. Shipped off to another embattled zone, he was shot and killed after only 11 days. Karen has recently found out that it was friendly fire and is demanding an investigation by the military into his death. Josh was also featured in the film. He proudly served his first tour as a Marine in Iraq, believing he was doing good. After returning home to his wife and newborn child, he was re-activated. When he returned with new responsibilities of being a father, he was began to see beyond the U.S, lies and propaganda and it changed his whole perspective. He came out alive and is now using music to speak out against the war. He met Neil during the filming of this movie, and has remained close.

It was a gut wrenching and breathtaking 2 hours, and I feel so lucky and honored to have been there. CSNY/ Deja Vu opens in limited release on July 27th so please, go see this film if you can.
Here's Neil's interview with Charlie Rose:

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