Peregrine flight

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sound Off.

As we get older I think that most of us tend to dismiss our own positive attributes and focus more on our ample deficiencies. Spouses are really good at helping to bring them to the fore, if we happen to forget where they live or where we put them. After fifty five years I think I have a pretty good idea of who the hell I am and what I can or can not do but I guess it never hurts to be reminded.

I won't bore you with the list, we have discussed my inability to fix anything in the past amonst many other things but I don't want to retread old ground, with the new year presenting itself so soon. Regrets, I've had a few...

I was never the guy who could walk into the bar and sweep all the available maidens off their feet with a subtle turn of my head or a bat of my eyelashes. Decent looking chap but not quite a looker. More of the Jeff Goldblum, supporting actor type role, had to use the superior wit and sharp intellect if I had any hope whatsoever of scoring. I had friends who had women throwing themselves at them and I have to tell you, they really pissed me off. Honestly I never liked the shape of my oversized head, the back looks funny, not that we ever get a clear view of it.

I could play the guitar for another twenty five years and still never be anything more than a mediocre musician, owing to a stilted sense of rhythm and time. I rarely play for people, being very neurotic about my musical output. The uninitiated tell me that they like to hear me play but I know better. I was similarly neurotic when I was drawing, wouldn't let anybody handle my sketchbooks and insisted on turning the pages for them. Don't have the same vulnerability when I write for some reason. Anyway as much as I love music with me it's pretty much a solitary affair.

I frankly never liked the sound of my voice. I moved from California to New Mexico to Texas to New York to California as a kid and got a strange polyglot of an accent that is thin, slightly nasal and pretty unidentifiable. It is an odd thing about a voice, everybody else hears you better than you do yourself, owing to the peculiar filter of your brain and innate auditory equipment.

My distaste for my own voice really came home when I heard myself on a recording for the first time. Like a needle across a record. A weak voice, even whiny, without any superlatives of any kind to describe it. I once read a quote from a now forgotten sage that in old age we all get the faces that we deserve. Perhaps we get the voices that we deserve as well.

I actually had voice lessons for a semester in boarding school. I was the A in SATB. One of my dad's buddies told him that the voice teacher was stealing his money. I sing a lot, loving music and not really caring what anybody thinks, bad voice notwithstanding. My specialty is Johnny Cash and Bakersfield cowboy. The kid from El Paso comes out in spades when I unleash the pipes.

What this all leads up to, it does lead to something, is that an odd thing happened this month. Two singers independently told me that they thought that I had a really nice voice. I was shocked. I was singing at a party in Rancho Santa Fe and a chanteuse and pianist with a very good rep came over and told me that she liked my singing. Said I had a good voice. I'm like, you're kidding? I have always had such a bad aural self image that I didn't know what to say. Really? Same thing happened this morning at coffee. Either somebody who loves me a lot has paid people off to say nice things to me or maybe my pipes aren't quite as bad as I always thought that they were. Self loathing aside, perhaps my voice doesn't suck as bad as I always thought it did.



Sanoguy said...

I hope to hear you sound off, singing wise that is, at coffee one morning.

Norm R said...

Robert, Your voice may not have changed--it still may be awful--awful not awesome--but all singers today sound awful, even when they have a great voice. In the view of the elderly--really old--today's music is noise--that is what you young people want--loud. This comment is from your uncle Norm.