Never let the fact that you can't read music, carry a tune or don't know the difference between a harmony and a melody stop you from singing. After all, it has never stopped me. While the good Lord said to "make a joyful noise," he neglected to give me the voice. He did give me the noise part. Rarely is it possible for me to find music that I don't love and most importantly love to sing, too. The sight of people turning around and giving me stares, or horrified looks throughout my musical career has never deterred me from making that noise.
As a child, during services on Sunday morning I would sing loudly proclaiming my faith while making others lose theirs. The words written for centuries rarely mattered since it was just an attempt to catch up with the rest of the folks with a tune. In fact, in my attempt to create music on Sundays, I would mangle sentence structure, create entirely never-heard-before notes and make up words as the others bravely attempted to sing as the good Lord intended them to sing.
For years I was a 'shower singer' and convinced that if I had just a few - not too many - voice lessons I was bound for glory on the stage. Watching the musical competitions today on television there is complete understanding why some people audition and are just horrible. Not only are they horrible they become devastated because all their lives they believed they could sing. Like me they were most likely 'shower singers' and everything sounds good in the shower ...especially when there are no judges around.
Finally. over time, my friends and family did an 'intervention' for their own peace and made clear that I couldn't carry a tune and it would be better for all concerned if I just hummed along with everyone else. Then it all became clear to me. My special voice was meant to irritate others and to expose them to an entire new genre in music! With great grace, I took that mission seriously.
When I lived in Los Angeles in the 1990's my friend Jeff Trandahl would be heading to work at in DC at 8AM EST while I would be just getting my morning coffee and preparing to write in LA at 5AM PST. Knowing I was up, he would call each morning to chat and I would await his call, pick up the phone and without even saying hello do a special arrangement of "Jesus Wants You For A Sunbeam". The styles included country, operatic, rap, bluegrass, pop, rock and roll, heavy metal....you get the picture. Never has that song been sung in so many forms. One morning the phone rang and I picked it up and gave my best opera version of "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam". Putting all my energy into the song, I felt I made it sound right out of "Madame Butterfly." There was dead silence on the phone. Finally, I said, "Jeff?" And this thick Boston accent of Senator Ted Kennedy came through the phone saying, "Ah, David, that was nice but quite honestly a little early don't you think?". I nearly died.
Far be it for one setback to stop my career as the left wing minstrel. When friends visit I jump on their beds to sing them awake in the morning. Around the outdoor fireplaces I urge friends to remember oldies but goodies from the 1950's and 1960's. Music is my love and who says it can't be for the tone deaf?
So if you hear me clear my throat and see an evil smile coming to my face, you might want to be ready to hear my latest bastardized version of some beautiful song. It is just the way it is in the year of our Lord - make a joyful noise.