The other night I made Mike watch Young@ Heart, a movie I ordered through Netflix (which, by the way, I am so digging). I'd actually seen the film a while back in my favorite movie theater on earth, The Flicks, up in Boise. It's about a chorus of senior citizens in Northampton, Mass, who sing rock songs by artists such as Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Bob Dylan, James Brown, The Ramones, The Clash, and Jimi Hendrix. No kidding. I believe the average age of the chorus is about 80.
At first, Mike was like, "Jesus, Linda, what are you getting me into now?" but as it went on, it won him over. Take a look at the trailer and tell me these aren't the cutest people you ever saw.
If you're like me and have a soft spot in your heart for old people, you will absolutely love this movie. There are a couple of parts that may make you cry. So beautiful.
As I watched it the second time around, a couple of thoughts entered my brain. I told Mike I think it would be interesting to watch this again in 20 years when we're 73. I really believe that 80 in the future is going to look a lot different from what 80 looks like in the movie. Remember this post with the four generations of the women folk in my family then and now? That's what I'm talking about.
I also noticed that although there were a couple members of the chorus who had "good voices," that didn't seem to be a requirement. I got the impression that all that was needed was a willingness to learn the songs and commit to the performance schedule. People could be in the chorus simply because they had an appreciation of the joy of singing.
As you probably know, both of my kids are singer-songwriters. They may have gotten some writing talent from me, but certainly not the singing. I have a shitty voice; even my talking voice has a lot to be desired. When my kids were little, they used to tell me my voice sounded like the ironing board opening. And when I got mad and starting yapping at them, they'd call me "Dino" from The Flintstones. Those little brats!
I've always been able to fake a good talking voice, though. When I was in grad school and had a radio show on WRPI, my sister Lori used to bowl over laughing at my sexy radio voice because it sounded so put on. She should talk! My friend Tim says that when the two of us get together we could attract every dog within a 5-mile radius with our high-pitched voices.
So as crappy as my talking voice is (and to make matters worse, I pronounce it "tawking"), you can just imagine my singing voice. I'm a good writer, a decent dancer, and I do pretty well as a comic, but singing is just not my forte. As a result, I never sing. Oh, I do in the car when I'm alone, but never in front of other people. When you suck at something, you don't exactly want the world to know.
Anyway, a couple of years ago when Mike came with me to Albany for Courtney's wedding party, we stopped in to see my friend Babs from my GE days and her husband, Randy. Babs loves to sing and has her own karaoke machine. She insisted I pick out a couple of songs and give it a try.
At first I was like, hell, no! Though I'm never afraid to look like a total a-hole, at that point Mike and I had been together for only a few months and he thought I was all hot and sexy. Why ruin it, you know? But he and Babs kept encouraging me, and I have to admit, I kind of wanted to give it a try. I picked out a song from the collection while Babs got me a beer (which I chugged), and I was ready to go.
Mike and Babs probably suffer from PTSD flashbacks every time they hear Carly Simon's "You're So Vain," but I have to say that once I got over some initial reluctance, I had a blast singing it. It was liberating! Afterward the two of them lied about what a great job I did and a minute later I was scanning Babs' songbook in search of my next number. Next I was channeling Chrissie Hynde with "Back on the Chain Gang."
To his credit, Mike stayed with me even though I have a shitty voice--probably because I am so freakin' hot and sexy--and I realized that you don't have to be perfect at something to enjoy it. Not that I would ever do karaoke publicly, though it probably would be funnier than anything I could say in my stand-up act. And if I want to return to the Northeast in my old age, I can always join the http://www.youngatheartchorus.com/ chorus.