“It takes a very long time to become young.” I agree with this wise statement from Pablo Picasso. It sometimes takes a whole life time to become young. As I searched the internet for the word, “YOUTH”, I came across this movie called, Youth (Italian: La giovinezza), a 2015 Italian comedy-drama film written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino. The song called, Simple Song #3, really touched me. I did not cry buckets of tears which perhaps the director did when he finally chose this song among the many the composer David Lang sent him. According to a story he wanted David Lang to send him a song that could make him cry more than just a bit. But I have tears in my heart when I listened to the song.
It is a simple contemporary classic song sung in simple lyrics but beautiful when sung with passion. The song plays an important role as it is both the hero, a retired composer, Fred’s most beloved work and one that transmits a hidden emotional message to his wife. His wife is senile, and living at a care home in Venice. He wrote the song in younger days for her to perform.
It stars Michael Caine (83) and Harvey Keitel(77) as best friends who reflect on their lives while holidaying in the Swiss Alps. “It is a story of the eternal struggle between age and youth, the past and the future, life and death, commitment and betrayal.” The cast also includes Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, and Jane Fonda.
Fred turns down an invitation by an emissary for Queen Elizabeth II to perform his popular piece “Simple Songs” at her husband Prince Philip’s birthday concert, claiming he is not interested in performing any more – although he still composes pieces in his head when alone. Later when approached again by the emissary, he explains (and heard by his daughter) that he won’t perform “Simple Songs” because the soprano part belongs only to his wife and she can no longer sing.
When I ponder on the subject of “Youth”, I have no words but words already well expressed by others, such as the song and the bit of the story concerning a man and his wife who is no longer singing. I also quote below words expressed by a writer and a poet who mean what youth really means to me in this season of pondering over life and the inevitable aging of youth.
Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you’ve been.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
“may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old
may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young
and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile”
― E.E. Cummings, Complete Poems, 1904-1962