In 1987, Neil Young told an interviewer that Time Fades Away was “the worst record I ever made—but as a documentary of what was happening to me, it was a great record.”
Young has never shied away from documenting, warts and all, the high points of his career and some pretty low points as well. When he toured Europe in 1987 with Crazy Horse, disaster was looming. “It was fuckin’ terrible,” to hear Shakey himself describe it. Ticket sales were shitty, band members were often in an alcoholic stupor and played poorly, there were riots and Young even had to deal with the ignominy of a radio interviewer who expressed surprise that Young wasn’t dead yet. Good times! At the end of the tour, Young publicly vowed never to work with Crazy Horse again.
Young, being Young, saw the cinematic possibilities of the chaos of the tour and the result is Muddy Track, a patchwork, out-of-focus Shakey-cam walk in the band’s shoes as they stumbled across Europe. No distributor would touch something like this with a ten ft. pole and so the film remained fairly mysterious until parts of it were seen in the Jim Jarmusch directed Year of the Horse in 1997.
Speaking about his films, Young told MOJO in 1995:
Muddy Track is really my favourite of all of them, though. It’s dark as hell God, it’s a heavy one! (laughs) But it’s funky.
Funky it is! Muddy Track is incoherent, sure, but it’s quite real and immediate in the best sense of Young’s work. Some of the footage is probably a bit too personal (a band meeting that devolves into a tense swearing match is uncomfortable to watch three decades after the fact) but it’s never boring.
“Muddy Track is not a documentary,” Young has said “I don’t know what the fuck it is.”
Thank you Vinícius!