Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Music, music, music pt. 5

I really didn't mean for this narrative to meander on for so long, but there is now an unexpected wrinkle which throws an entirely new light for me on this music business.

I have a very dear friend from college days who happens to be one of the most sought-after vocal coaches in show business, a behind-the-scenes power who counts some of the biggest names in all of music, from opera to pop to country, among his grateful clients.  Feeling like one of those morons who go on about all their symptoms with their doctor friends but importune anyway, I worked up the courage to ask him for some pointers on how to treat an aging voice that has not been used for music in many years.  I was embarrassed to ask this busy man for free advice, and expected something perfunctory as a nod to our friendship, and nothing more.  Instead I got a whole session with him, over the phone.  And that's where the "but...." comes in.  I am now in a musical identity crisis.

In that coaching session I discovered that the musical part of my character has changed; that much of what feels "right" for me to perform nowadays really doesn't fit at all with the crooning, "pretty" sound by which I have, from my earliest memory, defined myself as a singer.  (And that includes much of my own stuff,)  An unexpected realization was that all that mellow tone can actually get in the way of a lyric and impede honest expression. If I really do want to perform honestly for people in any venue from my living room on up, I have a whole new singing technique to learn and internalize, a whole new identity to take on.

I know this "dilemma" sounds like nothing so much exaggerated self-importance in someone who has yet to take any step forward at all beyond recognizing an old dream.  But it's a core part of how I identify myself to myself.  The question I'm grappling with now is whether or not it might be best just to let fond memories be--at this age I'm quite satisfied with who I've been in the past and who I am now; I really have nothing to prove.  Is all the angst of learning a new trick or two worth the chance to stand up on the stage of the Onely Place?  Do I even care?  The fact that I'm asking the question makes be think perhaps I don't......

If you've read this far, thank you for indulging me.  I'm working this out as the words emerge.  "Music," the issue, is now a work in progress.  If there's anything new to report in the future, I will.

In the meantime, we'll go to the December show at the barn and enjoy it.  And we'll become friends with those guys, whether I sing on their stage or not.


Anonymous said...

You need some kind of clapboard or ukelale and down home croonin to keep that NC crowd happy. Them liken to knee slap. No knee slap, they'll go off and kick your ass. So you only have one chance live, on stage down there.

Ralph said...


splendid/angi said...

i disagree with you:
"Do I even care?
Yes! i think you do, the fact that you told us all of this leads me to believe that you do!
perhaps you only live once in this incarnation...
blisters on your fingers aside
i think not trying will hurt more.
i am right here behind you, encouraging you to follow one more ain't over yet ralph


nan said...

Interesting dilemma. I have given this some thought actually for myself. There are some things I *can* sing, but I feel like a chameleon - because it isn't *me.* Hmmm. There is fun being the performer, and taking on a role for the purposes of entertainment (even an element of surprise there.) and there is fun being "authentic." Can you do both?

Ralph said...

Nan, I think it's really more a question of adjusting to not always sounding pretty. And the surprise is that I really don't want to anymore. It's a change of identity. Can I do both, though? Probably.

Lonely Rivers said...

I have always secretly believed that deep within Ms.Lonely Rivers is a leggy chorus girl with a broadway voice. Give her a mike, and maybe a tophat and cane, and let her blast out her song. Standing ovation or rotten tomatoes it reamains a dream unfulfilled,a life not lived.

Ralph said...

Heh, well, LR, I guess I can say that at least I did live the dream for a bit. I'm just not sure now whether or not keeping the dream alive is worth it--maybe just the memory is enough now.