If I could choose only one song title to describe me, it might just have to be the hymn How Can I Keep From Singing. Although I don’t have a great voice, I love to sing. Like, all the time. Especially in the car. Luckily I married another car singer and we trained our children to think it’s normal to break into song at any moment, so I really only feel weird about it when other people ride with us.
I didn’t realize just how much I sing on a daily basis until I went on a long trip with other students and had to go for weeks without singing at all. Finally, a friend loaned me her Walkman and her cassette of Squeeze Singles for an afternoon and I let loose with Tempted, Another Nail in My Heart, Cool for Cats… I was in heaven until a sweet Japanese exchange student tapped me on the shoulder and asked in the nicest possible way if I could please, please, oh please stop singing.
Since we will be going on another long trip with students in about a month, I thought maybe I should prepare myself by renewing my passport, getting all the necessary immunizations, and learning to listen to music without singing along. For two weeks, I managed to do it. It wasn’t fun, especially because Pandora seemed to be conspiring against me by making sure all my favorites just happened to pop up, starting with this one right out of the gate:
Guess what I noticed when I wasn’t busy harmonizing with Robin? I don’t know any of the words to that song I love so much. Not at all. I listened and thought, “Oh, is that what this song is about? Those are nice lyrics.” I felt like such a dope. It reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend Carol at a Robin Pecknold concert where I said I’m drawn more to timbre than to lyrics and she disagreed. No wonder I didn’t care about lyrics. Turns out I don’t even listen to them!
But sometimes even when I tried to listen to the lyrics, I couldn’t really understand them. Like this one. (I mean, sure you can hear it if you look at the screen and actually read the lyrics, but just close your eyes. You’ll see what I mean. Unless it’s just me. Is it just me? All I can hear is “huh huh huh, electric feel..”)
I only had one slip – the last night of my challenge! My son turned on his disco playlist and I sang one word with him (one word of the chorus because of course I don’t know the rest of the words) before I remembered I wasn’t supposed to. Then I had to suffer as he joyfully got to sing along while I drove in silence.
At least now I know that if I really have to, I have the self-control to just stay quiet and keep a song in my heart. In the meantime, this is pretty much what you can expect if you ever want a ride in my car: