Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Room Full Of Song

There are some who will say I have gone way beyond the young blonde or fiery red sports car.

Since unpacking and retuning my guitar, I have re-acquainted myself with an armful of songs I wrote in my teen and twenty years. Some have struck me as not at all half bad, igniting a growing compulsion to bring them out into the open.

Too busy and really way too old to form a band that hits the road playing county fairs and honkytonks "throooough-out the south", I have been steadily working to transpose an old analogue tape to digital and upload a few songs onto this blog. Perhaps with them in some sort of existence beyond my fingers, I can rest and move on, knowing in some small way they might survive.

This came from the later months of my first separation as an antidote to loneliness, when I gathered musician friends to record parts and pieces and extra voices as best we could. One by one, we stood in a bath tub surrounded by heavy fabric for just the right sound for all eight tracks in our little home-made studio.

While only a verse and a half was possibly good enough for an album, some of the rest I would still be proud (or bold) enough to share with friends...if I could only solve the latest technical challenges. This afternoon, when I certainly should have been doing more to earn real dollars, I used up four precious hours to advance my project little farther. I remain determined to get them online before Hayden’s persistence pays off with the long-promised video of her dancing (you think we’d forget?!).

Thusly, tonight, full of the music and frustrated by the technicalities, I yearned to sing those songs beyond the lonely four walls of my own little home. There is something truly seductive about singing into a microphone, surrounding yourself in the embrace of the music. So up I went along the short road to a local bar that hosts a weekly town-famous open mike.

Apparently, this is quite the gig because even getting there fashionably early, the quarter-hour slots were already filled past mid-night. Believing the world had gone to Hip-Hop, I discovered there is no shortage of singer/songwriters on my very own street.

To be honest, I felt a fierce competition in myself, listening to each, making comparisons and loading the criteria always in my own favor. It was not pretty, so I was glad to be alone, the old guy (they were all half my age) settled in the darkest corner, suffering the need once more for approval to overcome the relentless voice of harsh self-criticism.

Hour after hour, they came on, nearly all guys, nearly all in jeans, t-shirts and sneakers, nearly every one singing his own song for better or worse. Though in jeans myself, I, at least, wore a polo shirt and loafers, my own sneakers being just too abused to wear off the jobsite.

One more guy and his guitar… and suddenly, the air cleared. I was finally able to get beyod my own petty voice and recognize the gift each was giving, the risk each was taking. Sure, some were crooners with voices that split and shattered, but they were still playing, still daring to share. Others played cheap guitars with less than nimble fingers, yet, for them, it could have been Carnegie Hall.

Humbled, I finally took the small stage. Loyal listeners were still in abundance and attentive. Many of the other troubadours had remained in support of their brethren.

It made no difference who was better, or that I was the only one who was even alive in the 70's. All had our moments of glory, each and every note not especially spectacular (and some rocking the house), but still a sound so sweet, a note common to us all, joining us together, each with our own armful of original work on display, craving a little rush of golden applause, and shrugging it off shyly when it actually came.

And I was right: it was a lot more fun to sing through a mic.
Please share with your friends


Hayden Tompkins said...

Oh, you have called me out! LOL.

I think posting your songs would be pretty amazing.

jouette said...

good for you! "do something every day that scares you" - i love that you seem to be living that and finding yourself.

Laurie said...

I bet that was a great experience. It's fun to do things out of your comfort zone. You show up those young wipper-snappers didn't you? he he he. Put your songs on line. I would love to hear them.

Beth said...

I've never done a song open mike, but I have done poetry open mics. Sometimes they are really amazing and sometimes they are scary, especially if you follow somebody who's really good or really funny. I hope you keep doing it--practice takes the edge off.

Kip de Moll said...

Singing through the mic and enjoying the attention is totally addicting. I jumped right back into it, no problem. And the "whipper-snappers" seemed to have liked it. Now I'm casting about for some complimentary musicians to join me.

And, Hayden, if only the tunes were more dancable, we could collaborate!