Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shameful Memory #4: Playground Diva

The other day I was taking a walk outside in the sunshine with Beatrix and I was singing. I was making myself sing to her because I am usually a little reticent to sing aloud, but I think it's nice all the same. I'd like Bea to have fond memories of me, you know, singing in the kitchen while I bake chocolate chip cookies and stuff.

My singing repertoire for the baby is rather sparse. This is mainly due to my bad memory for lyrics. I should say that I can sing along to songs just fine; turn on the radio, it's like I know every word. But if I'm singing on my own, the lyrics just run out of my head. I sing hymns because I usually know the first verse really well. Christmas songs are good too. Most of the time I just end up humming.

The other problem is that I am an alto and I tend to start songs too high. (Secretly I suspect that I have perfect pitch and start them in the correct key, but that's still too high - I can never sing along with them in church either which is why I should really learn to harmonize.) Even some of my favorite hymns I can't pull off without dropping an octave mid-song. That's just not the kind of music lesson I want to give Bea.

So, anyway, the other day, walking and singing. I remembered that I knew this old David Wilcox tune rather well and I began to sing it. Unfortunately, this song comes with some baggage.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my closest girlfriends and I managed to befriend a particular group of boys. It was the hinge to the unfolding of our entire upper-classmen social lives. These boys were football players, and "popular". We were quiet and off the radar, though generally well-liked. The connection was sensational. I mean, we really hit it off. It started with one innocent invitation to hang out, a note on a windshield one afternoon, and suddenly we became one big happy co-ed family.

One day, over summer break or something, we (boys included) were hanging around one of the elementary school playgrounds in that sort of ironic, innocent, photo montage kind of way. Some of my friends were up on the monkey bars, others were going down the slide, I decided to be elusive over on the swingset. As I was swinging, trying to really soak in the beauty of teenage freedom or something as profound, I began to sing. (I was always doing this, posturing melancholy because I thought it seemed romantic.) I was singing "Show the Way" by David Wilcox. It was downright inspirational. You should have been there.

Somewhere around the second verse my good friend Betsy and one of the boys approached me and grabbed their own swings and we all swung together. I didn't stop singing...Why didn't I stop singing? I finished the whole song, chorus, verse, chorus, probably even added in the background vocal parts. And when I was finished, I think I just turned and started talking to my friends like everything was totally normal.

To this day I'm not quite sure what my motivation was. I think that I thought I was being appropriately reflective, possibly evangelistic, and that my friends would benefit by hearing the song. I think that I thought they would admire both my singing voice and my depth of character. As it stands, I actually have no idea what they thought of me, but I am nevertheless humiliated at the memory. I suppose it's fitting to feel humbled when you have undeservedly puffed yourself up.

Let's consider it lesson learned. Now, I just wish I could get that song back without the embarrassment attached. It's a good song. Go listen to it.


  1. But singing is a gift, Emily!

    Meanwhile when I was in 8th grade I went on a youth group retreat and they played SCC's "Great Adventure" video on a big screen for it. I thought I had an IN because I had heard the song before (thanks, Amy!) so I went around after that singing it. Well, however long later, I got the CD itself and listened to the song and realized I had been terribly botching the lyrics -- even to the chorus! Argh. Lesson learned: LEARN a song before you actually sing it in front of people!

    Equally mortifying is the memory of the radio songs I remember singing in the car with my mother present, not realizing they were about sex and/or drugs (at the time.) Not sure if I should blame Z100 for the songs, or my parents for sheltering me to the point of gross naivety, but there you have it.

    You're not alone! *hugs*

  2. This story made me smile in the midst of an otherwise icky work day. So I, for one, am glad you sang the song. :o)