I ordered the DVD of Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace film the day it was released because, I guess, seeing it 15 times in the theaters just wasn’t sufficient. Yes, I saw it 15 times, what?
The 15th time was in Spokane WA where I had gone for my day job, and I consider it a gift from the Universe because, if my flight home had not been cancelled, I wouldn’t have had “free time” to check out what else was going on in Spokane. And I found out that the film was playing around the corner from my hotel!
If you missed seeing Amazing Grace in the theaters, now is your chance. It is not the typical documentary. There is no narration; no interviews or recollections by anyone who was either in attendance, in the band or choir, or among the crew members or producers – almost all of whom have passed away.
What you witness in Amazing Grace is Aretha Franklin, at the piano or “standing flat-footed” (as a singer friend of mine likes to say) simply doing what she does best. Her singing voice exclaims all that needs to be said. Despite whatever technical difficulties and legal wranglings that kept the film from being shown for all these decades, the Amazing Grace film is well worth the wait. Amazing Grace is church, it is a concert, it is a master class in live recording… it is all of that.
Although the film is titled Amazing Grace, I wish they had called it “Never Grow Old.” Don’t get me wrong, Aretha Franklin’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” is the highest point (among several high points) in the concert. But “Never Grow Old” is the final song she sings, the song she first recorded at the age of 16. And here Aretha Franklin is, the Queen of Soul, captured on film at 29 years old, at the very top of her game as a singer, having recorded over 20 albums, won five Grammy Awards, and earned 11 consecutive Number One Pop and R&B hit singles, closing out her concert recording with “Never Grow Old.” In the Amazing Grace film, Aretha Franklin is captured forever, where that Spirit-filled, Blues-inspired, Soul-regaled voice – will, indeed, never grow old.