The fact that all the layers of sound are coming from one man's fingers and achingly soulful voice is amazing to behold, at least "once you realize it's not a mistake," as Demme says with a snicker.
The music accentuates poems Young sings about love, loss, and slights made now and then. Demme comes up with neat tricks to capture the sound and performance fury, including what can best be described as a chin-and-throat cam.
Asked what first attracted him to the musician, Demme paused before answering.
"Neil Young's music and songs have spoken to what it is like to be a white male from his generation over the years," he finally says. "What it is like to be his age—he speaks for that. His music is almost like a mirror turned inward.
"I think he's a genius. You have to look globally at the club he is in when it comes to what he has contributed to the world. I cherish our friendship."
This article appeared in print as "'Ohio' Calling: Jonathan Demme and Neil Young revisit tragedy movingly in Neil Young Journeys."