“Buena Vista Social Club” is a documentary which follows a group of extraordinary Cuban musicians who have been asked to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The film shows the history of Cuban music and emphasizes how these musicians became so successful. Each musician seems to have a youthful exuberance. They all believe that this is the prime of their lives, even though they are all between 50 and 80 years old. The Buena Vista Social Club points out the great history of Cuban music and how it has changed these musicians lives.
Most of the musicians featured in this film seem to view music as a crystallized intelligence. They all talk about how music has always been a part of their lives and how they have learned and grown from the experiences music has provided them. Music is ever changing and evolving. As we experience different heartbreaks and happy moments, music is there to comfort us or to reflect on these situations. This is why music can be fluid and the experience of a song changes with each time you hear it. Although the notes and lyrics have not changed, our life experiences change our view and how we interpret the song.
The Cuban musicians in “Buena Vista Social Club” have so much life experience and understanding of the world. The way they feel the music changes based on where they are in life. For example, when Ruben Gonzalez started playing piano, he was in the first grade. His family had bought a piano, which he began playing with just as a fun toy. But when his mother saw his potential she had him take lessons. Lessons were not something had he exactly enjoyed, but he did them anyway. When he was in eighth grade, his teacher told him he would one day be a great pianist.
He eventually started playing with a band and toured the world playing his music. He has a very crystallized intelligence when it comes to his view in music. He started playing the piano as a fun toy and nothing serious, but as he experienced life and grew older, the piano took on a whole new role in his life. It became a way of life and a passion of his. Cuba is such a different society than the United States. Everyone smokes cigars, everyone sings and dances, and everyone lives a relaxed way of life. The man that has been smoking for 85 years physically seems to be in great health for his age.
He seems to have taken care of himself, beside the fact that he smokes as much as he does. As we get older, there are many factors that contribute to staying healthy. If you ingest a certain toxin into your body, but balance it out with healthy alternatives; when it comes to diet, exercise, stress, and daily activity, it is possible to smoke daily and still be healthy. The United States puts so much emphasis on how terrible smoking is. But there are so many things that are just as bad for you if you do them excessively.
The man in the film smokes a cigar daily. Compared to many Americans who smoke 20-40 cigarettes a day, one cigar does not seem too terrible. He also seems to live a very relaxed and stress free life. Stress is a major factor in aging and vitality. Many of the musicians in the “Buena Vista Social Club” live life to the fullest. They all seem to be stress free and enjoy life to the fullest. The older men and women in this film often talk about how they are in the prime of their lives and how they still have so much life to live.
A perfect example is the man who has been smoking for 85 years. Later in the film, he states that he has five children and is working on his sixth. He has to be around 90 years old, but is trying to have another child. This is extremely unheard of in America. The American way of life is to be successful and have a family between the ages of 25 and 40, to be content with this lifestyle for 20 years, and then retire. By 70 years old, many people in America are living slow, seemingly boring lives. Some live in retirement homes, while some live with family.
But it seems that after 70 there is a downhill toward death type of outlook. In Cuba, it is the complete opposite. They live life day by day and enjoy each experience they have. The musicians in this film see each day as an opportunity to grow and spread their love of music. They enjoy their days and stay active well past 80 years of age. In my opinion, this is happening because much of the American lifestyle is based on a person’s job and financial success; while in Cuba their lifestyles are based on family, relationships, health, and happiness.
This is why these musicians are able to see that they are in the prime of their lives and are able to enjoy every minute of it. I think this is the element of the film that is most applicable to the sociology of aging. Different cultures have different “flows of life” or ways that they live. It is clear that Cuba’s musicians in the film are carefree and live each day to the fullest. This is how aging is seen in their culture. It just proves that each culture has different views on aging. The important thing for us to do is to learn from different cultures and try to apply their ways to our own lives the best we can.