Sometimes I think the only time I get to use my whole voice is when I sing.
I don’t sing professionally and I hate all the singing shows on TV. My singing is limited to my car, games of Rock Band and rare karaoke nights.
I’m not a good singer – I wreck my throat after one karaoke song and I’m completely untrained. I like music but I’m not as up-to-date on current trends as I used to be.
When I was a teenager, I learned to play my favourite songs thanks to OLGA. That site is long gone – a casualty of the ongoing battle of the music industry versus the internet. I even wrote a few songs. I never played them publicly, but if I’d had better self-esteem at seventeen, I may have.
Those songs are long gone now. I can hear snippets in my head, but not much else. We’re all probably better off – the songs of a seventeen year old girl with an acoustic guitar pining for boys who wouldn’t understand aren’t songs for the ages.
These days, I sing along with the radio in my car. Now that I’m a commuter, I have more time in the car alone. Most nights the radio goes up loud and I feel free. I feel subversive when I roll into Flora’s school blasting something inappropriate. Then I turn it off and go get my kid. We ride home in silence most days because my girl doesn’t get loud rock music yet.
She may not ever, in the ultimate act of rebellion against her parents.
Fun fact: When I was pregnant, we tried to get Flora to kick by putting headphones on my belly. Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ was on my mp3 player and that’s what we tried with. She completely ignored us. Whatever – babies are fickle and kick when they want to. The day we brought her home, Sean had the radio on and Enter Sandman comes on again. The radio wasn’t loud but as I sat in the back with my newborn in a shell-shocked, WTF-do-I-do-now haze, I smiled because life was still happening even though I was now someone’s mother. I still liked the same loud music I did before I became Her Mother. That comforted me. That it was the same song that we tried to get her to kick for was an added bonus.
It took me a long time to learn to like to sing. On my first day of kindergarten, I decided I didn’t want to sing Head and Shoulders with the class. I did the motions but didn’t sing. My teacher noticed and asked me why I wasn’t singing. I didn’t answer. She then put her hands on her hips and asked me to say sorry for not singing with the class. I didn’t because I wasn’t sorry. I didn’t want to sing and I wasn’t doing it. The teacher didn’t like my silent defiance and I was told to go put my head down at one of the classroom tables.
In third grade, I was one of maybe seven kids in my class that was not invited to join the choir made up of primary-level kids (grades 1-3). Maybe it was because there wasn’t enough room for everyone on the stands. Maybe it was because they thought I was too shy (a reasonable assumption). I took it to mean they thought I was a bad singer. I did my extra reading and was happy but my relationship with singing took a huge hit for years afterward.
I think these stories lead up to why I like karaoke so much. It’s a forgiving medium. You can completely suck and still be cheered at the end. It’s hard to get up in front of people and make yourself vulnerable by singing. I think most people recognize that.
I subscribe to the theory “if you can’t sing it good, sing it loud”. This applies to life as well. Better to get up, own your issues and go for it anyway, than sit in the back and be mad that you wimped out yet again. I’ve done both, and I have lot more fun (or get a lot more said) when I actually get brave enough to potentially make a jackass of myself in public.
I know I’m not as good as I think I am in my head. I’m not as bad as I think I am either. At least I’m trying.
You should too. You don’t have to get on stage to try.