It’s snowing again.
I’m listening to Massive Attack’s “Mezzanine” – fabulous. Also includes one of the most efficient and devastating uses of sampling in a song. Brilliant.
I want to dissolve into the music playing.
I stand in the living room, on the plush Persian hand me down, and close my eyes. I start to sway, gently the coffee in my oversized mug of the Manhattan skyline moves in time with me. “All these have flaws. You could be mine.” In moments of most sublime fusion, I sing along. I sing most beautifully when there is no audience, no one to overhear. And I merge. My husband tells me that my voice is too “pretty” for Rock, that it’s actually kind of funny to hear me sing along with Roger Waters or Geddy Lee. Hmph. My daughter, however, loves it when I sing Billie Holiday.
I guess it makes sense that I sound the best singing the Blues.
When I was a freshman in Claremont, California, I was awarded a role in a musical written by a friend of mine. It was a retelling, or farce, or something (we never really could figure out which; this wasn’t helped by the fact that we were producing a half-finished operetta), of Jesus‘ family dynamics. I played a six-year-old neglected little girl named Judas. I’m not kidding; I can’t make this stuff up. Even with my acutely developed sense of irony, I’m not that elegant. I had this song about being left inside the apartment and doing whatever I could think of to attract the attention of my star-fucking nouveau riche parents. Oh, if Brendan had only guessed how accurate he was… Anyway, during the audition, my voice filled the theater, clear, strong, and unapologetic. I had forwarned everyone that I couldn’t sing. I was auditioning because it was a requirement of the major. I had to, so please forgive me for making your ears bleed. Without any pressure or consequences, I was fearless.
Lack of fear seems to be the trick.
I admit, even I was surprised. So, I got the part – and proceeded to go flat on the bridge during every rehearsal. Brendan and I worked for hours trying different arrangements, different keys, different anything, and always ended up settling on the original. E-flat, apparently, is where I belong. I was always fine when it was just the two of us. Then we would return to rehearsal, and – well, you can guess.
This did not change until Opening Night. The obvious finally occured to me: that whether I liked it or not, was frightened or fearless, I had to go out there and sing that damn song. After that mini-epiphany, I never went flat or changed keys during a performance. (I did skip an entire verse once, but we can’t be perfect.)
So I guess this is a “lesson” on living without fear. If you want to be philosophical about it, that is. One will be far more skilled, talented, inspired even if you’re lucky, if you leave Fear behind. Never apologize for who you are and what you bring to the show. It’s up to others to decide if they like it or not. But that is never your problem.
Undaunted, sing clearly and from the heart. And for the love of all that is dream-worthy and holy, sing what you like to sing.