Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Private Joke

I get so damn frustrated that I can't sing like the stars. For some songs, I sound just perfect. It's not that I can't carry a tune. It's that whole upper octave thingy that really trips me up. Here's a for instance. Any of my friends will tell you that yes, indeed, I was quite motivated to be a country singer when I was younger. Nobody told me that I couldn't, but the private dancing eyeball glances were not lost on me. Still, I figured the voice is a muscle that can, over time, be stretched and perfected. I fell in with a bass player when I moved to California, who invited a drummer to play with us. We started with Mustang Sally, the Commitments version. The drummer was excited from the opening lines. Wow! This is awesome! But then came the first chorus, and my limit was exposed.

Still, he called me a year later to front a country band. By then I had already dropped out of one band and was living with my soon-to-be wife. I had experienced enough humility by then anyway. I had finally come to accept that I would never be more than pretty good, despite the blast furnace inside me.

Being bad, or mediocre--it's a lonely thing. People smile and wave, then conspiratorially whisper to their friends, who in turn smile and wave. They're in on a private joke. And that joke is you.


Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Perhaps you just need to sing in a different key.

Go to a singing teacher.

They will sort you out.

Trust me, I'm no Pavarotti, but my teacher helped me find my range.

Flood said...


My turn to agree with Ultra Toast. What he said.

Also, if you try something three times and fail, you still have three times more experience than someone who didn't try at all. So screw the point-and-laughers, if it's something you enjoy.

One more thing: there is a study that suggests depressed people are far more 'in tune' to how others truly perceive them. Delusion keeps us happy! (Still makes the p-and-l'ers idiots, though.)

Bernita said...

Comes from singing other people's songs and not the ones that suit you.
I sometimes think that Johnny Cash had only a five-note range.

Scott said...

Toast - I went to a vocal coach for a while, and it was definitely helping. I just pooped out after a while.

Flood - I totally relate to that. The lead singer of my band was simply awful, but my wife and I marvel at her blissful ignorance of that fact. The band was still going at it years after I quit, still playing to an audience of three. Sometimes I wish I were not so in tune (with the way others react)

Bernita - That is so true. Very true. My band was always pushing me to sing Tim McGraw and Vince Gill. I was very good at Tracy Byrd, Randy Travis and Wade Hayes. But the upward pressure was intense. So to compensate, I had them lower the key, which irritated the guitar player who couldn't play the same riffs.

Toni Anderson said...

I think you're harsh on yourself. Most people smiling and waving would probably be thinking 'He's pretty good' or 'I wish I had the balls to stand on stage and sing'

I can't sing. My hubby was a chiorboy and sang solos in the local catherdral. When I open my mouth he smiles and winces ;-)

Kathleen said...

I was going to suggest the same as Toast and Flood, get yourself a voice coach. I'm no singer, but my sister has told me that she doesn't cringe sitting next to me at church like we all do my mother who can't sing a friggin' note - she's completely flat and tone deaf.

Dixie Belle said...

At least you are aware of your limitations as a singer. Actors usually fail at this. For example, Russell Crowe and Don Johnson.

Scott said...

Toni - I know I'm pretty good, and hit my stride at moments, but I want to be better than that.

Kat - I'm sort of over it now. I was reminded while trying to sing along with the radio this morning.

Dixie - That was classic. But hey, I'd take their fame and fortune over mine. At least for now... Bwa ha ha ha!

Jaye Wells said...

I think everyone feels this way about something they love to do. It's this was for me with writing--the worrying that people are saying flattering things to my face and then snickering behind my bad. I wouldn't worry about that if I didn't love what I was doing. The key is doing it anyway, because it makes you happy.

Moni said...

Ah ha! Want's to hear Scott sing, who's with me?! Come on now! Do a little ditty, put on the net Scott.

Now, see what you started? I've got a few songs I'll bet you could sing very nicely...yeah! Saving up the money for the studio costs now. ;P

fringes said...

And I don't think they were laughing at you.

trinamick said...

I can't carry a tune in a bucket, and I don't sing in public outside of church. Working with someone who is a rotten singer and won't admit it has taught me the value of honesty. I will never again pretend to like someone's singing if it is awful.

That said, why would they ask you to sing if they didn't think you were at least fairly good?

Beth said...

Wow, my whole comment ... lost! I was laughing over Trinamick's comment and just prattling on, when poof, Blogger Gods incinerated it.

I was saying I find most people's passions are not their gifts.

Meaning what you do well is not what you want to do. The auto mechanic who wants to be a guitar god. The computer programmer who wants to be a famous actor. They're gifted at what they work at and that's their gift to the world, but their passion is what they want and well, they're just not that good at it.

I have always been a writer, since I was about 4. It wasn't a passion, but more of a way of life. I sat down and would write as a child. It continued through my life. Then a few years ago, I just stopped.

I have never had an actual passion. I find that so strange. I can sing pretty well though. Haha!

Scott said...

Jaye - I think my friends at first were hiding their true feelings but sharing with one another privately. I would have done the same. I know that I came along and got better though, and some songs I've always been good at.

Moni - I've been thinking about recording a song that I play and sing to, and put it out here. I'm not sure how to though. Then I have to pick the right one. It would be fun to do!

Fringes - No, I never was that bad. I'm just bitching because I'm not great. In my band, I sang a few songs on an experimental basis that were laughable, but I would have joined the chorus. The bass player used to like how I didn't mind taking chances.

Trina - Well, like I said to Fringes above, I wasn't bad. But my song selection is limited because I can't nail the higher octaves, forcing me into a low range. One night though, we had a stand in singer for our lead singer, and he could sing Vince Gill, but wasn't real good at the low range stuff. I started singing I Like it I Love it, and when it got high, I passed it off to him, then took back over. It worked out real well. Maybe a bit odd to the audience. It was my best time and everyone was dancing that night.

Beth - I think you have a lot of truth in there. You have to be careful though not to think too negative, which can have the opposite effect of scaring you away from paths that might not be your gift, but something that you could eventually excel at. Happiness is nine tenths of the law, haven't you heard? But if you want to watch something completely painful, see the movie Georgia, especially the end when the girl sings a Van Morrison tune. It was done purposefully bad, and she thinks she is nailing it.

magnetbabe said...

I love to sing but I totally suck at it. So when I'm around friends or family I do it anyway really loudly and they laugh at me. I'm cool with that. I'm not usually obnoxious, but being able to laugh at yourself keeps you out of the "private joke" mentally because you make up the joke yourself. Does that make sense? If it doesn't just remember: Bob Dylan. We all forgive that he can't sing because his lyrics are amazing.

LL said...

All you have to do is watch some of the contestants on those singing shows to come to the following conclusion:

Sometimes loving someone means telling them they're no good at what they really want to do.

But in your case it sounds like the higher octaves are the problem. No sweat... just follow everyone elses advice and sing songs in your range. Either that or develop your falsetto and sing Paul Anka songs. :P

Jada's Gigi said...

What brought this lament on? Did they ask you to sing at the wedding?!?
Hey, you've been on stage and that's something many would kill for!

Miranda said...

Being good seems pretty lonely too.
If you're bad, people may laugh
at you, but they're only laughing
at your bad singing. If you're good
and people laugh at you, it's probably because you've messed up your entire life. Consider all the happy lives celebrities lead ;).

Shesawriter said...


I'm convinced God has given us ONE (or maybe a few) knock down, drag out gift(s). It's our job to figure out what they/it are/is. ;-)

I hate the almost(s). HATE THEM/IT WITH A PASSION. The whole thing is so frustrating. Finding the ONE isn't easy. I'm still grappling with it myself.

Tee said...

It sounds like you can at least carry a tune so don't be so hard on yourself.

I know it's of no comfort but the only person who wants to hear me sing is my 4 year old and "You Are My Sunshine" is a tough one. LOL.

Seriously, this post made me kind of sad. It is very frustrating when you don't posess any talent that you wish you had.

If you want it badly enough you can work hard to achieve it, but I understand the wishing of being blessed naturally with it.