Saturday, July 04, 2009

Young@Heart

I've been waiting for Young@Heart to move up on my Netflix queue and it came last week. As I was on-call for most of today (but did manage to watch my town's infamous 4th of July parade!), I finally watched it tonight. The Young@Heart chorus is a group of Massachusetts senior citizens who have toured all over, showcasing their unique covers of rock songs. Led by Bob Cilman, the chorus members gamely try their hands at The Clash, James Brown, and Bob Dylan. The documentary follows the group as they rehearse for their show "Alive and Well." Anyone who works with the 70 + crowd will not be surprised by the array of spunky personalities and the affirmation that life does not end once you get your Medicare card. Director Stephen Walker does an excellent job of giving us a behind-the-scenes look at just what goes in to their tour and the issues they face, from their own mortality, the loss of 2 members, but also their various involvements and the perks of aging gracefully. Sprinkled throughout are hillarious music videos. You'll never listen to "I Wanna Be Sedated" in the same way after viewing it through the eyes of nursing home resident. My only complaint would be a wish that Walker had added the performer's names in caption so as to better acquaint names with faces.

It may be cliched to say that I laughed and cried but it's true. One of the most moving scenes occurred during a performance at a jail. The group had just learned of the death of one of their members, Bob, and barely had time to process this before the show began. The last number was "Forever Young" which proved to be a beautiful tribute to Bob, as well as evoking a touching response from the inmates. Equally moving is Fred's rendition of Coldplay's "Fix You," originally a duet with Bob (The embedding was disabled but here's the YouTube link.) Later in the movie various Young@Hearters affirm that they want the show to go on when they die. One woman went as far as to say she hopes she dies while on stage and that they just drag her off and keep on singing! It's easy to see how much this group means to them- not only for the activity of singing but for the friendships that have been formed. I cannot recommend this movie enough and hope that you'll move it to the top of your list. Check out the Young@Heart website for their story, tour dates, and CD information.


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