I sang with a band when I was in college. I was the weakest link among the performers, but I loved to sing, loved being in front of an audience and I just loved the thrill of performing. This was the 60s, and we were performing at a bar in Manhattan and jumping off the stage and being passed around the dance floor. I look back and laugh about being an unknown and having created what later became known as the mosh pit.
When I graduated from college, I became an adult with all the trappings of needing to be “responsible,” “being an adult” and “growing up.” A little part of my heart closed up as I evolved into becoming a shower singer. You know, someone who sings in the shower, plays percussion on wet thighs and other sundry suggestions of resignation.
My wife told me I couldn’t sing on key (not true) and my son would utter my job title, “DAD” with the sort of pleading annoying voice that told me to be quiet . . . and then he would tell me I couldn’t sing. I wouldn’t stop, but felt myself close up more and more and lock myself in my office, feeling misunderstood and criticized unnecessarily.
Before I go further, I am not a trained singer. I am someone who loves to sing. There is something in me that feels alive when I sing that is closed off when I live my typical life. I missed my youthful joy so much.
Some Sundays ago, I was at a garden party my wife organized at a friend’s home as a fundraiser. The musical entertainment was an amplified acoustic guitar player with a limited vocal range. At a break he took, he asked whether anyone would like to sing with him. Surprisingly, my wife invited me to.
I looked over the list of songs the guitar player had, took the microphone and after an ignominious start at the wrong spot of the introduction to the first song, we synched up and I finished the three songs and people walked over to me and told me what a lovely voice I had.
More importantly, I did it. I went out and ignored all the unfair critical messages I have heard for so long and just grabbed the mic and performed. I loved it and that is all that mattered.
My old friend Bob, a quantitative professional, once spoke about an uncle of his at the time of the man’s death. His uncle and father…