Do you stop having fun when you become old or do you become old because you stop having fun ? I’ve been thinking about that a bit recently and I think that in generally it’s almost as if we as a society almost attempt to take the opportunity for fun away from older people. I, and I’m sure many of you, will have seen this at first hand in the way that people are treated and talked to – or down to as is often the case. As an antidote to this I recommend that you search out the documentary Young At Heart (it can be downloaded, streamed on line, bought from Netflix and the like) and tonight instead of the usual stuff you might watch make some time to watch it. It is one of the most heartening and uplifting programmes you will ever watch.
The film traces a choir of older people in America who are rehearsing for an upcoming new show, the difference being that a) the average age is in the 80’s and b) a large part of what they sing are reworked alternative / punk classics by bands like The Ramones, Nirvana, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth etc. They slowly and painfully get to grips with learning the songs, struggling with the words and the rhythms but always getting there in the end in a joyous riot of fun. One of the older members has her own keys to the nursing home as she is out late so often and her and two friends career about in a car like some sort of geriatric Waynes World making me howl with laughter. Laughter and fun come through the film loud an clear, of course there are some very sad moments as the nature of the age of the participants means that people die along the way but it’s met with stoicism and remembrance that would put many to shame.
Music has always been a big part of my life and this film helps to show what an inclusive and enjoyable thing music can be to share, no matter what it is or what you taste may be. Above all though the film is a beautiful slow burning reflection on community, values, companionship, friendship and love. I can’t recommend it highly enough and if you watch it remember older people you know or have know and think about it and ask yourself, do you stop having fun when you become old or do you become old because you stop having fun ?