Josh and I went to see YOUNG AT HEART last night. This is a very enjoyable documentary movie about a group of elders–average age of 80–who travel the world from their home in Northampton, Massachusetts, giving concerts of Rock music.
It’s thought-provoking for several reasons.
As one group member says happily,singing is good for you. It clearly makes him feel more alive. It also gives him exercise, since there’s always some choreography accompanying the songs.
It’s also challenging to the brain. The music director, a marvellous man in his early 50’s named Bob Cilman, expects his singers to work: to memorize songs, to grapple with music that is quite foreign to most of this age group (most of whose taste runs to classical music, they say), to sing the songs well.
One singer says ruefully–after being taken to task for not working hard enough at his solo–that Bob is tough, then adds with a grin that he himself is also tough and can handle the heat in this particular kitchen. The group is eclectic and inclusive. It even has room for a 92 year old who can’t really sing but can declaim words with a wonderful British accent. It’s apparent that everybody is having fun even while taking their performances seriously.
This is a perfect example of the power of music into old age. Singing Rock music forces him to stretch the boundaries of his taste, one man says, since he has never really understood its appeal. But when you see him sing with a sparkle in his eye, totally focused on performing, you know that his engagement with this music makes all the difference. It’s fun. It’s rhythmic. It’s loud. It taps the youngster inside each of us.
Several times during the movie the audience we were part of–made up of all ages, from little kids to their grandparents–spontaneously burst into applause, as if we were watching live theater. I’m surprised we didn’t all get up and dance!
Go see it. People can really surprise themselves in a wonderful way when they let down their hair and follow a playful, knowledgeable leader.