By Joe Rector
One of the blessings of this life is singing. I’ve heard some folks say they can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but the fact is that the lack of ability rarely prevents any of us from belting out a tune. It’s “making a joyful noise unto the lord.”
Most of us enjoy our music. Whether it is doo-wop, oldies, punk, metal, or classic rock, we “groove” on our tunes. I’ve spent a small fortune on purchases, and the truth is I’ll continue to buy songs that strike the right chords with me. During this time of the year, songs by the Beach Boys or Chicago or The Four Tops instantly take me back to the teenage years. Then I was carefree and full of energy. Listening to them and singing along somehow now energizes me and my friends.
We never sounded too good. We’d hit a few sour notes. When the lyrics weren’t committed to our memories, we’d mumble through them until the chorus; then all of us would sing loud and proud. In high school, the choir traveled to other cities during spring break. One trip was to Washington, D.C. A group of eight of us grabbed a cab and rode to several of the monuments. At the Lincoln Memorial our little group sang a song, and it never sounded better because of the acoustics. That’s a memory that has never faded.
We all find places to sing. The shower seems to be the favorite location, but just as popular a place is the car. On any trip, it’s not difficult to look at cars that pass and see drivers and riders alike raising their heads and letting the music rise from their mouths. Some include nice head nods to supplement the song. Church is another nice place to sing. No one cares how he or she sounds; more important is singing out those hymns or new religious tunes.
The question is why we sing. Plenty of answers come to mind. First, we sing during happy times. Favorite songs come pouring forth when “God’s in his heaven and all is right with the world.” Just repeating the lyrics increases our joy and prolongs the good feelings that we have. At other times, humming a tune can help overcome troubles and tests that occur in our lives. The music somehow gives us a sense of security; the words to a favorite hymn can reassure us that someone bigger than us is watching over events. Celebrations call for song as well. A birthday isn’t complete without the traditional song sung by family and friends. A win at a football game might be capped with the singing of a school’s alma mater. Special songs written for holidays add to our enjoyment of the times.
Oh, sometimes we old folks become a bit hokey with our desire for family singing sessions. Nothing is much funnier than the scene in “Christmas Vacation” when Clark and his wife Ellen sing carols on the way to pick out a Christmas tree. The children rolled their eyes and refused to join in. I’ve pushed for my family to sing together, but even Amy is allied with the kids in refusing to do so.
Not too many years ago, something happened to my voice, and I can no longer sing without cracking notes or having my voice completely go silent (a blessing to many). I still try to sing, but the joy is gone. No, I’m not going quit, but doing so would be much more fun if I could carry the tunes. Still, I know that singing soothes, inspires, humbles, and consoles us all. It’s imperative to a happier, fuller life that we all let our voices and spirits rise.