In the spirit of spring cleaning, I’m facing old demons today. We’ve been watching The Voice, which just started up again a few weeks ago (you can watch it for free on Hulu, I highly recommend it) and it stirs complicated feelings in me. This is the only reality show I’m able to watch, because it’s both real, as in real people on it, and actually entertaining. The singers that come on this show are phenomenal, there’s no painful American Idol style humiliations, just raw talent, and all ages of musicians are represented. Though, yes, the majority are under thirty.
Watching these fabulous performances of every genre of music is comforting, and dammit, it’s inspiring. Thinking I may have to lean on my two friends in L.A. to score us some tickets eventually (they’re both actually hooked up, my only L.A. family) so we can experience The Voice first hand. Now here’s what’s hard about it, and why it makes me face old hurts: I don’t sing anymore, ever.
I wasn’t ever that good a singer to begin with, but I got shot down repeatedly by junior high teachers and other ill-meaning folk, and that was it. For some reason, being a bad singer is worse than being a bad writer, painter, or even piano player: it’s like your physical being and your art are so intertwined, it’s your actual self that’s deficient. After a few horrible, public dressing-downs, I dropped out of choir and stopped singing in front of other people. I lost that sweet, elusive freedom of being able to open my lungs and make a joyful sound. Now I see music from the outside. I never excelled at guitar, or piano (despite years of lessons); that path is closed to me. Almost like losing another language. I don’t even like my speaking voice (does anyone?); it sounds too pleading, too thin.
So when I see these young, energetic people with tremendous talent, I’m filled with venomous jealousy. They sing and people jump out of their seats, screaming and cheering. Or they can move people to tears. Training’s part of it, I guess, but most of a powerful voice is just luck, natural talent. If I had a voice that made people really happy, I wouldn’t have to write, or paint, or any of these other tiring, methodical kinds of art. And I wouldn’t be afraid to sing when I’m alone; even alone I’m self-conscious, I don’t sing in the shower. Does anyone else feel this way? There, singing demon down, six hundred to go.