23 June 2010

A Joyful Noise...I Wish!

Do you ever find yourself wishing you could do something you cannot do, and do it well? Wishing it so much it gets to the point of obsession because you think about it so much?

I do. I've got it bad right now. Aside from jonesin' for PHOTOGRAPHY these days, I also really, really wish I could sing. Seriously. I don't need to be a virtuoso, I would just like to be able to hit the notes well enough. Why, you ask, do I want to sing?

Damned if I know. I just do.

I suspect it has to do with the creative impulse, and the inability or unwillingness to ignore those voices in my head and heart that say I must, or that I should at least try. The problem with singing is that I have no talent. No real talent, anyway. I can on on occasion sound like I can sing. I can do a credible imitation of Metallica's James Hetfield* when I set my mind to it, and I do enjoy that. Sometimes, I can sound like Johnny Cash on his cover of "Sea of Heartbreak". Actually, I don't know if I sound like Johnny Cash so much as I can almost harmonize with him on the chorus. Plus, I usually do that while driving, and the road noise covers up a lot of the flaws I'm sure.

This does not mean I want to do karaoke, an entertainment for some that I just do not get. The very thought of singing karaoke-style, on purpose (like in some sort of misguided team-building exercise, or after a heavy dose of liquid courage) makes me cringe. Any sort of overt public performance also has always been anathema to me. In high school, once, I took an 'F' grade rather than get up in front of class and recite a memorized speech, with memorable results**. Even to this day, I abhor the thought of public speaking, although I've had to do it in limited form as part of my (former) job.

So why the obsession, the singing badly, loudly but with gusto when no one else is around?*** I return to the creative impulse. Writing, photography, singing...any creative endeavor seeking manifestation eventually wants to express itself, and that means exposure and vulnerability, both things I typically avoid. But lately, things have been wanting to get out, working their way to the surface. I still don't want to be vulnerable, I don't want to be rejected...yet true and honest expression requires risk. 

I think writing opened the gate a bit, photography pushed the thing wider, and I realized that it doesn't matter if I can't really sing. I'm not going to be a professional singer, anyway, so I should sing primarily because it makes me happy...similar in effects to the writing and photos.

The saying goes "Dance like nobody's watching" so I suppose the corollary is "Sing like no one is listening". It is a good lesson for life, I finally realized, because it can take me out of myself and learn to enjoy the act of creation simply because...that's all, simply, because. It helps shed the fear engendered by self-consciousness and allows the creative mind some room to grow. It helps me stop thinking so much about myself, paralyzed by the fear of error and too timid to show myself. This is all good, my heart gets it, even if my mind hasn't quite embraced the concept.

So these days, I've been listening and I've been thinking, and here are a few songs I wish I could sing:

"Fuel" - Metallica
"Unsung" - Helmet
"Sea of Heartbreak" - inspired by Johnny Cash
"Oh, Darling!" - The Beatles
"Gasoline" - The Airborne Toxic Event
"Hard to Handle" - Otis Redding (with a nod to The Black Crowes)
"Feels Like Rain" - John Hiatt (with a nod to Robbie Schaefer)

No particular order there, and I suppose it doesn't matter. All I can hope is that I can keep singing, pushing away the fear of my self and of being alone, holding out until I can find at least an audience of one.

*James Hetfield himself once described his singing as "yelling on key", something I'd like to do. I can growl like him sometimes.
**A post for another time, dear friends.
***I have discovered that I can embarrass Wee Lass, if I sing a certain way. She sometimes gives me the stink-eye and says "Daaaaa--aady, stop singing that way!" Okay, dear, but just wait until high school, hehheh...


  1. Hmmm...okay, I'll wait for the story about the memorized speech if you're gonna be that way.


  2. I can't sing. Unless I'm alone. In my car. Driving fast. And no one but dogs can hear me.

  3. Can't sing, can't dance but oh how I'd love to be able to play the piano-- which will never happen. No hand-eye coordination.

    I say go for it and sing til your heart's content!

    Cheers, jj

  4. I used to sing marginally well. Voice lessons were really fun - just for the creative exercise. I knew that I wasn't studying to perform further than high school or college groups, but having a coach push me was liberating in the direction you're searching (I think).

    These days, I'd love to be able to run. Also, I wouldn't mind having the time to paint.

  5. Feels Like Rain by John Hiatt? Brother, you would slay me :)

    Peace ~ Rene

  6. i used to sing when i was younger...in choir, in musical, in the shower, on the ski lift, anywhere....as I have gotten older, the reasons to sing have lessened....I was singing last night around the camp fire, though, so there's another reason to get outside and away from the tech world

  7. Karaoke is really big over here. If you ever stop by we will go out with my daughter and all of her theatre friends and you can sing your heart out.

    I'd like to get a year off to just write. and photography. oh. and bead. and I always wanted to take a tap dancing class.

  8. Personally - I love singing and I can actually pull off a tune without making the crowd collectively heckle me off stage! :)
    However, I'm one of those people that believes that you sing for you. Not for the crowd but for you. Music is too big to put in a box and label it, so you shouldn't.
    Sing if you feel like it, who cares who's listening? It isn't like your music is raising money for the Sudanese orphans via a giant concert where you're obligated to entertain non?
    Just sing. Because you feel like. Because it makes you feel good. That's the best part about music :)

  9. ah, John Hiatt ... a great rock n roll voice.

  10. I found it easier just to do what I wanted then there's no room for obsession ;)

  11. BAH! So you can't sing. Bet you could write the lyrics though. *wink*


  12. Ahhh ya bastard! Fuel! Such a brilliant and underrated song!!

  13. Hitting the notes right... hmm... that never worried Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Marianne Faithful... .

  14. I wish I could sing, too.

    There is a theatre group/improv group in town that says they can teach anyone to sing.

    Every year, I'm tempted.

    I should just do it. They say anyone can, you just have to be loud.

  15. I sing on the boat. Lately I've been doing Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show. Great tune for me.


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Don't suffer your crimes
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