Singing Along

Monday's ordinary thing is singing along. Once I was traveling with someone I admire very much, a scholar and performer both young and mature beyond her years, Antonia. Some folksy ballad was playing on the car stereo, and feeling breezy, I sang along. Antonia looked uncomfortable. "It's hard to hear the music," she said, and frowned, trying to be polite while suggesting I stop singing.

I wasn't singing very loud, and honestly, not very badly. Antonia, a perfectionist, had never sung in all the hours and hours we'd spent together. Her dominant belief was, Let the professionals do it. Suddenly I became very angry that one so young had been sapped of joy and musical delight, participation on a pure, heartfelt level. I wasn't sure if it was academia, or her own self-imposed rules that gave her this idea, but in a moment I glimpsed how she had been duped, and I jumped onto a soapbox, for which I hope I've since been forgiven.

Yet I still believe what I told her. Society has removed singing from American gathering places and dining halls, unlike the Europeans who break into song at the pub, lifting their glasses, stomping their feet. We have removed the experience of music and become spectators only, critics and qualifiers and those who know it all but can never do more than crank up our Ipods or switch on "American Idol."

Same with painting, dancing, writing a poem, doing a comedy routine. Much of creating has been wadded up and stuffed into a duffel bag, hidden in the car trunk for a some day that will never come.

The best part about singing is doing it - in ordinary life, perhaps in an ordinary voice. Singing is the natural overflow of the heart. All children sing. Singing connects to faith. Why stop? You deserve to sing, just as you are sung to.

Where have you held back, criticizing or observing art rather than participating?


  1. I'm with you on this one - what has happened that Americans are now musical spectators, missing out on the inner joy of creating spontaneously? There is nothing sadder than a broken spirit...

    Your blog and writing is just wonderful! Glad you stopped by mine, The Social Poets, to nudge me. :) Oh, by the way, have moved your blog feed to a new page: I've been wanting to add more bloggers to the list but found it was slowing down the main blog. Now I can add to my heart's content!

    Have a great day! (And keep writing at 4 AM, such an awesome time of day for reflection and clear writing.)

  2. Oh, yes. So true!

    I simply love to sing along. I do it all the time. I can drive for hours with a good playlist in the car, singing quietly along, keeping myself alert remembering the words, enjoying the sound, driving to the beat.

    And I love to sing in church. That's why I still prefer the traditional service with hymns to the contemporary service with its performance style praise music. I want to be more than a musical spectator. I want to join in!


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