There was a time when people whistled their way to work and headed home singing, when the music in a shop came from the shopkeeper. A time when the ‘national throat’ was well-lubricated through daily exercise. Radio didn’t kill it, but it did give us as a people an excuse not to belt out a tune any more.
Nowadays too many grown men and women shy away when invited to join in. They bashfully abstain, ashamed of their rusty, unpracticed voices. Who can blame them? They hear pitch-perfect auto-tuned studio-engineered hi-fi songs every day; how could a mere mortal measure up to that?
Who cares, say I.
If we just stop being so childish and shy we might get a bit of practice in, and the streets will sound a lot livelier with couple of verses being belted from an open window. And so will this dreary internet of ours.
So shut up and sing. Even if it’s only when you’re alone; under the shower, vacuuming the floor, cleaning your gun collection. You’ll get better, and you’ll appreciate music more. You can join in when a song goes up even outside of the drunken comfort of a karaoke bar.
Listen to me: I dare you.
I dare you to grab your phone and download Audioboo, whip out your MP3 player, whatever you might have that can record audio and sing your favorite song.
Right now if you can. Later if you must, but before you go to bed, give your ol’ larynx a good workout!
Mess up the words? No sweat. Keep going. Hum a few bars if you have to. Make it to the chorus and belt that shit out, and keep repeating the one verse you can remember. Miss a beat? Take a breath and pick it back up. What do yo think Mick Jagger does when he messes up on stage? Do the rest of the Stones pause and start over? Nah, man.
You know you wanna do it. You already know, right this second, what you want to sing. So why not, just this once?
Maybe you’re at work now, or on the bus, that’s fine. But when you get home… plug a headset into your computer or whatever, discharge your lungs and post it proudly on the internet. Blast it onto YouSpace or MyFace or toss it in a tweet and tag it with #singadamnsong. Just go for it.
And of course, I’ll put my raw, scratchy throat where my mouth is.
Here’s my favorite song to sing: De Stad Amsterdam, which is a Dutch translation of Le Port d’Amsterdam by Jacques Brel. I’m not nearly as sweaty as he is, but damn I love that song.
Give me a poke when you post yours. I’d love to hear it!