Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I consider myself more of a vocal stylist...

I know I’m a pretty good writer.

Please forgive me if that seems like an insufferable thing to say, but modesty, especially false modesty, has never been my thing.

Writing, on the other hand, is my thing. Always has been. My style may not be the stuff of Nobel-prize-winning tomes but nevertheless, the compulsion to write has been a part of me for so long I can’t imagine what it’s like to live without it.

If I am not writing, it means I am not well. No matter how difficult and distracting my life becomes, my ability to write, and to write in what I consider my trademark style, is a testament to my mental and emotional health.

Strange then, that I would gladly hang up my keyboard if only I could sing.

Because I can’t sing.

There I said it. Despite an abundance of musical talent in my family, I am a terrible singer. No matter how many times I have fortified myself with red wine and sang around a campfire or harmonized at a party or even (just the one time, praise God) taken to a coffeehouse stage with my guitar, I remain a terrible singer.

My husband, on the other hand, is a great singer. His punk band had a modest local hit in its day and reunited to wow the crowd at our wedding. His version of Margaritaville brings the house down whenever we stumble upon a karaoke bar and I am able to harangue him into performing.

And I do have to harangue him because, unlike me, he is modest. I find his reluctance to sing inconceivable, because if my voice was one-tenth as sweet and strong as his you would have to turn the hose on me to get me offstage.

I have been watching American Idol this year for the first time ever and listening to the performers every week induces in me a yearning so sharp and pure that I feel a physical ache in my gut.

Oh sure, writing is all well and good. But what I wouldn’t give to be able to sing like that? To be able to stop people in their tracks with the sweet lilt of my voice? To open my mouth and cause throats to swell and eyes to well and tiny hairs to prickle? To carry with me always a means to transport people to another place, another time?

Sigh.

I may be a terrible singer, but I continue to sing around the house on an almost constant basis. Our radio is always on and Rob and I have the following conversation several times a day.

Me: “I love this song. Want me to sing it to you?”
Rob: “No.”
Me: (turning down radio lest it obscure my voice): “Okay great!”

I have sung to Graham since the minute he was born. I sing songs about his hair, his nose, his poop, how much I love him, how silly he is, how pretty his mama is…(I told you modesty is not my thing).

And in the last few months my heart has swollen with pride as Graham has started to sing as well. He sings to the radio, he sings to the television, he begs me to play his favorite CDs and then sits and sways to the music, plaintively slurring over the words he doesn’t know and proudly shouting the ones he does.

My boy - the singer!

Maybe when he’s a rich and famous musician he’ll let his mama sing backup for him.

Or at least write the liner notes for his albums

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52 comments:

Someone Being Me said...

I can't sing either. I feel the same way about it that you do. Only I am not a writer either, or athletically inclined, or artistic. I got nothun. Its rather depressing.

April said...

I can sing - doesn't stop my little one from telling me to stop sometimes :)

nomotherearth said...

I can sing - but nowhere near the way they can on Idol. It hurts to be so close, yet so far away.

Becky said...

My Ben is quite a singer himself (unlike me), and I have instructed him that IF he goes on tour, he has to bring a sign that says "I Love You, Mom" with him.

I'm only partially kidding here.

Amy said...

If you can sing like you can write than you should be rolling in the dough! You are talented, my friend!

Shamelessly Sassy said...

I absolutely cannot sing. When I was a child, my mom would turn the radio off if I sang along with the songs because I sound so bad. My own sweet mother couldn't stand it.

Amy said...

My husband has a wonderful voice too and a wonderful ear for music.
Me?
Not so much.

My girls LOVE to sing, I hope and pray they inherited their daddy's singing talent.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Not only can I not sing, none of my children can either. Sigh.

The Boyds Family said...

Another great post!

You've got looks and writing so God gave your singing skills to someone else...and then you married him. Now you've got it all! :)

If you're really as bad as you say you are, you better stick to writing the songs rather than hoping to be his backup singer; that is, if you want him to make it ;)

Have a great day!
Yvette

Dawn said...

Graham is a lucky boy to have such a fun Mommy, even if you can't sing ;)

Reluctant Housewife said...

I'm right there with you - I can't sing and I'd LOVE to be able to. Buddy has wanted to be a rock star... well, for years, really - since he was about 2 1/2. He can't sing either but he's got the personality and the volume down... He'd be great, I think (and I'm not biased at all!)

I'm awarding you an Excellent Blog award. The details are at my blog.

Kelly said...

I have a somewhat pretty voice. I always wanted to go to Juliard, sing professionally, ya know, the works. But, I'm not that good. I often wondered why I was given the semi-gift of this voice. Then I had my babies, and it all made sense. I rock out, hard for those two.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

I love to sing, I have a fairly decent voice and great pitch. And I would always sing my heart out and even got up in front of people.
Until I met my husband. He is a SINGER. Since we have been together I never sing in front of people and feel shy singing in front of him. Because he can really sing, and was trained.
After we announced our engagement his mother mourned because I wasn't the very petite girl (i am 5'6" with a big bust) with a beautiful voice she dreamed of for him. ugh.

Law Student Hot Mama said...

I CAN sing . . but the last time I sang was at my bachelorette party and, well, let's just say Mr. Karaoke and I didn't get along so well after 302938409238402938 drinks than we did sober. So I guess correctly I "could" sing, but not anymore.

Rima said...

Me too. But my own kids flip out if I so much as try to sing along to the radio. Sigh.

Maureen said...

Har! I can't believe we both wrote "American Idol" in our posts today!

(And no, I can't sing either; unless I am alone in the car with the radio blasting at full volume -- then I am great! Or so I foolishly believe).

Heather said...

I love to sing and I love to write. I don't know how great I am at either, but I do both anyway!

Mental P Mama said...

I think you are brilliant...I could care less if you can sing or not!

sky girl said...

I've always wanted to be able to sing too. It would be one of my 3 wishes.

krissy said...

When he begs you to stop and covers his ears, then you know your bad.

My daughter pleads with me to not sing in front of her friends.....what a brat she is!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

The more you sing, the better you get. Don't stop!

I once heard a story that Billy Joel's teenage daughter was overheard begging him to stop singing in the house, because he was embarrassing her in front of her friends.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Someone has to do all the writing of the lyrics to singer's songs. Just sayin.

tommie said...

I am sure you would make a great back up singer!

That being said, I am a lousy singer. A glass of wine give me a tad bit of confidence....but still not great.

My husband on the other hand sounds like the lead singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers!

Mandy said...

I sang all the time to my son when he was an infant, but somewhere around age 1.5 he started shushing me when I sang. I was crushed. Now I just laugh when he does it because man, he is as tone deaf as his mom and dad.

Cee said...

I completely understand! I wish I could sing so badly! Especially when it's American Idol season. Good thing our babies don't know any better :)

Family Adventure said...

The shower is my friend. And the easy setting on SingStar. I recommend them both highly.

Heidi

Kat said...

I couldn't sing to save my life but if you were to become a singer, who would entertain us here on your lovely blog? See how glad I am that you can't sing :)

oda41143 Missy said...

I love to sing to, who cares if it sounds good. It makes me feel good.

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

I'm modest... I can sing, act and write!!! Hee!

I agree.. you can write. I love your posts!

Please post a clip of you singing... Please!! **laughing!**

Molly said...

I also wish I could sing. I received no talent in that area!

Victoria said...

Alas, I cannot sing either. Which means I'm the most enthusiastic and loudest singer in our house. =)

OHmommy said...

I can't sing either. At all.

Let's just hope WE do not visit any karaoke bars in San Fran. :)

Mimi said...

I wrote about this last year .. god I love to sing. Wow I'm terrible at it. At least Munchkin likes it.

Angie said...

Singing to my boys is one of my favorite passtimes. They must love it too because they just CAN'T go to bed without their song first.

KEEP BELIEVING

SaraLynn said...

That is sweet! I can't sing either, but it hasn't seemed to bother the kids yet :)

caramama said...

But my dear, you move people in those ways with your writing... I know, not the same.

I think the great thing about music is that you don't have to be fantastic to enjoy it. Sing it girl!!!

kittenpie said...

I can carry a tune okay - but there is a whole nother level involved in the kind of singers who can make it, you know? That I don't have, I know. But I love to sing, too, and always sang to Pumpkinpie, and I was thrilled - thrilled! - when I noticed one day out far a walk that she was singing. My ten-month-old. Babbling, not talking yet, but singing a recognizable tune in her baby gibberish- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which she claimed as her favourite song until not long ago.

HRH said...

Lyrics! That is your calling...?

Tara R. said...

A truly gifted voice is not in my genetic makeup either... it skipped a generation. My mom is a wonderful singer, and so is my daughter. Me, not so good. I could peel paint. =)

Stapeliad said...

Wow, great post that I totally relate to. And here's the truth- so do millions of other people.

For me, this was so bad and so deep that I took professional voice lessons until very recently. You are 1000 percent normal with this, and can learn to sing and work with your natural instrument. Singing is incredibly psychological and it can be difficult to learn to love your voice but this is such a common issue and you definitely can train your voice to sing well.

Breck Alan was my teacher here in NYC. His site is www.bodysinging.com.

Oh, and thanks for visiting my blog! :)

Motherhood for Dummies said...

this is the first season that we have ever watched american idol too and I have to say I am likin' it!

David said...

I agree with Amy..if you can sing as well as you write, the world is in for a delight! Your writing makes me want to edit the pants off of mine. You ARE good damn it!
David

Karen MEG said...

I can't sing either; but then I can't write NEARLY as well as you do, so you've certainly got me beat there!

That's fabulous that your little one loves singing so much. It's so cute at this age. And how cool is it that Rob can sing ... I think Ian is tone-deaf.

Lisa said...

I can sing, but I'm not a writer. Just tonight at dinner Goosey & I were trying to harmonize on Twinkle Twinkle. Wanna trade talents for a day???

That being said, who do you like on Idol? I'm in love with David Cook, but I also like Brooke, Michael Johns, and at times Jason Castro....

Kathryn said...

I come from a singing family. My mom and dad are outstanding singers. Half of us in my family sing well, the other half doesn't try. I can sing but I have not done it professionally for so long I think I may have lost it. :(
sigh...
Maybe someday.

secret agent mama said...

I think the songs you sing are wonderful. Your words are always melodic to me, Kelly. I appreciate your rhythm, too. xxoo

Haley-O said...

My car thinks I'm a REALLY good singer. American-Idol worthy! So does my shower.... ;)

Queen of My Domain said...

My husband doesn't like my singing either. My children don't mind it so much yet.

Sue said...

I feel your pain. I so wish I could sing, well that is. I sing although I quite honestly suck at it. My favorite place is to sing in the car, by myself of course! My girls can sing, they have very nice voices. I must live vicariously through their talent. They want to be famous and rich someday, so hopefully they will remember their non=singing mom when they do!

Damselfly said...

Love it!

Me, I wish I could draw....

Erin said...

I love it when my kids sing..even if it is soulja boy.

LunaNik said...

My family is very musically gifted. My father is a genius (a self taught genius to boot) on the guitar. My sister is AMAZING musically. She can sing, play guitar, the flute, the saxophone, the drums...you name it, she can play it, or teach herself to within a week. My brother can also play the drums fairly well. Me, I'm useless musically. Although, I'm fairly certain if I were to front a punk band I would do well. My shrill, often ear piercing voice could hang with a punk band.