Rock and roll performed by senior citizens… who’d have thought it would have lasted 30 years?
The Young@Heart Chorus just celebrated their 30th anniversary with three CD release concerts in their hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts. The minimum age to join is 72, and members must attend two two-hour rehearsals every week. New chorus members have to rehearse with the group for a year before they can perform.
The constant rehearsing pays off with polished performances that give a new meaning to the phrase “rock and roll will never die.” The Young@Heart Chorus started as an informal sing-along for seniors in a meals program at an elderly housing project in Northampton. Now, 30 years later, about 35 active members of the chorus ranging in age from 73 to 90 tour the world.
I got to see the group perform live at the historic Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton on Saturday night. Ponder the nuances of these rock and roll songs when they’re sung by senior citizens:
David Byrne of the Talking Heads Heaven is a Place:
There is a party, everyone is there Everyone will leave at exactly the same time It’s hard to imagine that nothing at all Could be so exciting, could be so much fun Oh heaven Heaven is a place A place where nothing Nothing ever happens
(The artist formerly known as Prince) 1999:
‘Cause they say 2,000 zero zero party over, oops! Out of time!
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999!
I was dreaming when I wrote this,
So sue me if I go too fast.
But life is just a party
And parties weren’t meant to last.
War is all around us,
My mind says “Prepare to fight.”
So if I gotta die,
I’m gonna listen to my body tonight.
John Prine’s Angel from Montgomery:
I am an old woman named after my mother
My old man is another child that’s grown old
If dreams were lightning thunder was desire
This old house would have burnt down a long time ago
The Flaming Lips All We Have is Now:
As logic stands you couldn’t meet a man
Who’s from the future
But logic broke as he appeared he spoke
About the Future
“We’re not gonna make it” He explained how
The end will come – you and me were never meant
To be part of the future –
All we have is now –
All we’ve ever had was now
All we have is now
All we’ll ever have is now
In a special segment, Director Bob Cilman said that the group never did any Broadway musical numbers, except for one show: Hair. Two retired chorus members returned to the stage to perform “Aquarius” and “Hair.” The second number was especially funny, as the man who sang “Hair” had none. Other great numbers included “I Wanna Be Sedated,” “I Feel Good,” “Home is Wherever I’m With You,” and a poignant “May You Stay Forever Young.”
The first act, the group wore blue shirts and jeans. After the intermission, they sported black clothing, and the ladies sparkled with bling. May they stay forever young!