Saturday, September 25, 2010

I sang.

I've been terrified to sing. Especially not karaoke, but just-- my voice sucks now. If I raise my voice I cough; I've lost my range, which wasn't very good to begin with. In college I took a class in opera singing, sang in a madrigal choir, and basically traded on what the nuns taught us in grade school, working myself just enough to sound ok at an end of the year party when my freshman crush and his band let me sing backup just one song. I knew almost nothing really. When the madrigal director auditioned me, he said I was second alto and I thought it meant, lower than a regular alto.

Anyway, I know I'm not that good. The songs I can sing, I mean, really, are the ones I've sung a million times so I know where I have to push from the diaphragm, where I can fudge an ascending progression (probably not the right word) with a little bluesy harmonic play on what's expected. It's scary. I'm about as good at it as I am at skiing, that is, who would want to watch but a sadist or someone who really loved me or wanted to get in my pants or both or all three.

But I need to work on it, not just because so many of my business acquaintances and friends are young and Asian or just young and into karaoke. Or just into karaoke. Mysterious shit. So maybe I should take lessons, but not yet. Anyway. The other thread here that matters is that I've been hanging out with the people I knew when I first moved to New York, because I'm lucky they found me again. Last week there was a Max's Kansas City reunion, and I showed up for two of the three nights. Sunday it was kinda slow, but the promoter and stage manager were my friends, Pete and Frank, and when the last band played, they saved House of the Rising Sun for Frank. He didn't know the all words, and for some reason I jumped up and sang backup on the chorus, then started the next verse myself.

I could hear myself in the monitor, so I knew I was on key mostly, and I could hear the power from deep in my chest. I knew I sounded fucking amazing. The hot asshat who'd been trying to pick me up earlier in the front bar had come in to see who was belting one. I saw the look on his face when he realized it was me. You can tell when people are horrified by the spectacle of your shame, and when they're mesmerized by your unexpected success. This poor guy had gone from she's a MILF to IMUSTHAVEHER in 30 seconds.

And then I thought of Meryl Streep in Ironwood, gave the guitarist one of those looks, and we killed it like the dregs of a good bottle. It kinda reminded me of the first time I read my poetry out loud. My first thought had been why are they staring at me like that?

I guess I need to learn to sing.


  1. It seems to me that you sing just fine. Perhaps simply being less self-conscious about is all you need.

    Yes, I know that perhaps I should take my own advice, but I'm under a sentence of death for crimes against rhythm on three continents.

  2. Um... you can sing. Really. How do I know? People beg me NOT to sing. I hum my way through "Happy Birthday". Someone once compared the sounds bagpipes make as "like someone peeling a live beaver" which is a disgusting image, but evocative, I guess. That's what I sound like.

    Take lessons. I'll bet you have fun.


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