Yes, friends, Yours Truly had a real, live recording session this weekend. My friends Kent and Linda have a basement studio, Kent being a guitarist and singer who regularly makes CDs of his band's songs.
So, I have some songs that I've actually completed (amazing, since I'm not good at finishing anything I start) and thought it would be fun to record some of them "professionally," so I'd have a CD that I could copy for friends. I arranged with Kent to meet with him one Saturday and record these little piano-pop songs I've been carrying around in my head for 20 years.
This weekend was the weekend. The studio had a bunch of recording equipment, plus a bunch of electric guitars, a drum set, and other rockin' & rollin'-looking things. It felt a little strange; not that I don't like rockin' & rollin' stuff, but I was just there to play some piano songs. Because there was no piano in the studio, Kent got a nice-sized keyboard from a musician friend. Sure, a piano or clavinova would've been better, but I'm not one to complain. It took me three hours to record several takes each of three different songs. The third time seemed to be the charm; I played each song twice before I finally got a version that I liked.
Then, I shocked and amazed myself. Kent was telling me about a friend of his who sings, and I was saying I wish I could sing. My songs all have words, but no one would ever know it because I can't carry a tune.
"You know, I could make your voice sound good," Kent said.
"I can adjust the pitch with this equipment. If you're a little flat, or off key, I can change that on the recording."
I didn't believe it. I've been told repeatedly that I can't carry a tune in a bucket. At church, in youth, I was told to quit singing, that I shouldn't sing with the youth choir, that I should just stick to playing the piano. My dear brother told me repeatedly how bad my voice was. It saddened me because I love to sing. The only time I sing, usually, is when I know that nobody is listening.
Here's where I shocked myself: I told Kent, "Let me sing 'Logan's Song' (one of my songs I'd recorded), and you tell me if you think my voice is artificially salvageable."
"OK. I'll set up the mike."
"No!" I protested. "Just play the recording, and I'll sit here and sing a few lines."
"Nope. If someone sings in this studio, they have to stand up and sing into the mike."
Here's where I shocked myself again: I said, "okay."
So he set up the mike and I stood in front of it, wearing headphones, feeling infinitely stupidly rockin' rolley, like I was in the "We Are the World" video, and sang "Logan's Song." The whole thing. I could hear my voice quavering at times, which made me feel infinitely stupider, if that is possible. Oh well, at least I warned Kent that he wasn't in for a great display of vocal talent.
Then he wanted to play "Logan's Song" with me singing it. Yes, he'd recorded it.
I cringed as he hit PLAY. I really, truly didn't want to hear this.
My voice came in, quavery and a little off-key as I'd expected. But that was just for the first few bars. It wasn't great, but it really didn't sound half as bad as I'd thought it would. About halfway through the song, a metaphorical lightbulb appeared over Kent's head.
"It's your breathin'!" he exclaimed. "You have a sweet voice, but your breathin' is all wrong."
"What do you mean?"
"You have to sing from down here," he said, indicating his chest and stomach. "You're not gettin' enough air in your lungs. There's nothing wrong with your voice, though. You're hittin' the notes fine."
And you know what? Much to my surprise, other than the off-key-ness at the beginning, I mostly was hitting the notes fine. There were a couple of places where it actually sounded good.
--Childish Rant Mode ON--
So. No thank you, stupid brother who repeatedly told me with such arrogant confidence what a horrible voice I had. No thank you, stupid youth choir director-people who supposedly knew what you were talking about when you repeatedly told me I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket and that I should just stick with piano and not sing in the choir as I wanted to do. Thanks to you, and others like you, I've always been self-conscious about my own singing. You idiots have no clue how your words can sting and scar insecure pre-teens for years to follow. And here I find out, at age 35, that I can carry a tune, and that I would probably have an okay singing voice if I just took some lessons. I have no singing-dreams, other than being able to sing my own songs when I'm at the piano, and maybe to sing them on the CD that I make for close friends. But you helped to stunt even those modest aspirations. Poo on you. Ththbfbfbfbfbf.
--Childish Rant Mode OFF--
I'm not typically bitter about things that happened in the past, but it saddens me whenever I realize that others' past actions kept me from trying new things and taking advantage of opportunites for years afterward.
So now I have a CD. It's not rockin' or rollin', but it's fun to listen to. And it's mine.
Next goal: Take voice lessons. Learn to breathe. Make CD where I sing the words to my own songs and the result is not laughable.
It's good to be able to dream.