While preparing dinner at my kitchen counter the other day, I saw a commercial for an Eagles concert at the local Hard Rock indian casino. I immediately conjured a visual of what they looked like back in the seventies, when I was in high school and listened to their music. (which I still do, and which my kids grew up listening to on my car radio set to classic rock and NPR.) I glanced up from my chopping block fully expecting to see long hair and an attitude, and there on the TV screen was a group of old men. My age-peers.
Do I look like that? I grinned as I usually do when the old rock bands from the 60’s, and 70’s come into town and play at either the racetrack or the indian casino. My husband and I always opine that you know you’re considered "Classic" when you no longer play the stadiums but rather at the racetracks and the casinos. Still, the music is gold, as are the memories they ignite.
Enter Young @ Heart, a movie directed by British filmmaker Stephen Walker, about a group of over two dozen senior citizens from Northampton Mass., who have been singing to audiences all over Europe among the cutting edge arts festivals, and now the US, and who are drawing standing room only crowds from coast to coast. Included in their repertoire is everything from rock to punk to disco, from Coldplay to The Clash, and of course a firey rendition of James Brown’s "I Feel Good."
The documentary follows the group for a month and a half leading up to a sold out home town concert; their trials and tribulations, health and relationship issues. The group, who’s average age is about 83, began in 1982 as a program to entertain lower income seniors living in a retirement community, by socializing them in a musical atmosphere and giving them an outlet for their energy, issues and emotions. Sharing in the credit is Bob Cilman, their long time chorus/boot camp director. Climan has high expectations and Young At Heart aspires to them with little trouble.
With a truly diverse audience base ranging from teens and twenty-somethings to boomers and octogenarians, Fox Searchlight, the boutique film division that was responsible for "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Juno" snapped up the rights to Young @ Heart. Released on DVD September 16, 2008, this film gem is testimony to the notion that it is possible to grow old without becoming old.
I look in the mirror. The lines around my eyes a vague roadmap to the past; the skin on my upper arms softer, more cuddly. I slip into a pair of old Levi’s, put on my Minnetonka moccasins, (the ones with the fringe and the leather ties) and I’m ready for my day. Yes, I am one of them. Rock on.
Clips of Some of Our Favorite Performances
Fix You (Coldplay)
I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)
Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen)
They also produce their own music videos:
If you hang in there, this video has David Byrne sings back-up with the Chorus in Paris Bar in 2007
The Movie Trailer