Saturday, January 23, 2010

Golden Years

Young @ Heart - 2007 - Dir: Stephen Walker & Sally George
Location: The Comfort of My House - Independent Lens on PBS

I do love Independent Lens. This comes on PBS most Tuesdays and they show documentaries and independent cinema. They are in the middle of a few music related docs at the moment. One of the more recent films was one I wanted to check out upon its release a couple years ago but never got around to going to the theater. To be honest, I forgot about it until I saw it was going to be on. Here a chorus is followed as they prepare new music for their upcoming, yearly, European tour, but they are not your normal musical crew. The Young @ Heart chorus is a group of senior citizens in Massachusetts led by a man named Bob Cilman. They have captured audiences around the world and sell out shows on a regular basis. What makes their music fun is the mix of genres and time periods. From James Brown to The Clash to Coldplay they tackle anything Bob dreams up. The ages of the member range from the around 73 all the way up to 92.

Not everything they sing is perfect sounding but that's not what they are about. It becomes more about something for them to do, something they love and can pass on to audiences through music. Along their journey there are brief music videos with the fun of The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated," David Bowie's "Golden Years" and "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. These wonderful singers will bring a smile to your face with each number and the fun vibe they give off with their desire to put on a good show. Just watch as Bob plays one of their newest tunes, Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia," for the first time. They can't keep their fingers out of their ears while they mouth that it's too loud. For all the laughs and smiles there are an equal number of tears to be shed. Tears of happiness, sadness and the thought of your own family members past or present.

It might have had more of an impact on me because of my grandfather who died just over three years ago. Music was a huge part of his whole life from playing a few select instruments to singing, which is what he did most of the time. He sang many types of music in groups, quartets and choirs and his low bassy voice was unmistakable. Watching these stars perform and deal with many of the same health issues he dealt with brought back a flood of memories.

Music is a wonderful art form and can convey so many emotions. It's nice to see these seniors doing everything they can to not miss a rehearsal or performance. They travel to the rehearsal space in their own car, carpool, ride with a family member of leave their retirement or convalescent homes. Whatever or where ever as long as they can participate in the chorus. I cannot recommend this enough. Hopefully someday they'll travel to Texas and I'll get the chance to see them.

Pick up the DVD here for only ten bucks.


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