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John Simkin

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Did anyone see the Young@Heart documentary this week? One of the best documentaries I have ever seen.

This is what C4 said about the film:

With an average age of 80, their renditions of songs from the likes of OutKast, Jimi Hendrix, Talking Heads and Radiohead have won them sensational reviews wherever they perform, all over the world.

As one British critic wrote on their most recent London tour: "If your own granny took up skateboarding, you couldn't be more amazed than you'll be by 'Young@Heart'."

At an age when most people are either dead or living out their last days in retirement homes, these men and women are up on stage singing their hearts out about the big taboos surrounding old age: about love and sex, loss of youth, loneliness and death. In their mouths, familiar lyrics take on whole new meanings.

A highlight of their show is 93-year-old GI bride and Blitz survivor Eileen Hall's rendition of The Clash's 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go?', a performance that is always guaranteed to bring the house down.

Young@Heart follows the chorus over six weeks as they rehearse for a new show, 'Alive and Well', before an audience of a thousand in their home town of Northampton, Massachusetts.

In the course of the film, an intimate, moving and often hilarious portrait emerges of an extraordinary group of people who may be old in body but refuse to grow old in spirit.

Among them are Stan Goldman, a 75 year old who suffers from acute spinal problems but sings 'I Feel Good'; Dora Morrow, his partner in the song, an 83 year old great-great-grandmother; and 86 year old Lenny Fontaine, an ex-WW2 pilot whose solo of 'Purple Haze' always knocks the socks off audiences despite his occasional tendency to forget the words.

The documentary is not only powerfully moving, for the audience as well as the chorus, but also life-affirming.

As one critic writes: "When its elderly cast sing a defiant rendition of Dylan's 'Forever Young', you want to hurl a Zimmer frame into the air!"


You can find Young@Heart's website here:


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