Monday, October 12, 2009

Why not join the choir?

A few weeks ago a man, a longtime choir member who's moving out of the parish, got up in front of the congregation I was in and asked us all to ask ourselves not why we should join the choir, but rather, why not?

Well, I'll tell you why not.

Growing up, some of my happiest times with my dad and my sister were spent while she played piano and he and I sang. I don't pretend to be talented, but I knew I was with talented people who didn't mind how bad I was. We sang 30s and 40s hits, mostly, some straight, some campy, as with the truly gruesome "Prisoner of Love." I still remember most of the lyrics to "I Can Cook Too", the raspy voices we used, and the way my sister's fingers jumped down onto the keys for the opening chords.

Dad sang in the choir. He was a tenor, and he was so good everybody booked him for weddings and funerals. For a while until he had his first heart attack and couldn't climb the stairs to the loft any more, he was choir director. Technically he was with us for church services - we could hear him singing, and we sang along with him - but he never sat with us.

You'd think I'd be used that then, right?

But no. Twenty years now since he died and I still can't sing in church - or anywhere else for any length of time. I used to sing constantly - I even sang out traffic directions (popular) and an alert to imminent collision (less so) to a music-loving friend whose car radio was perpetually broken. Not now. My voice cuts out and breaks down and I follow quickly after. I have a niece who was born with my dad's talent and it still amazes me, the way she can push through emotion to get the sounds out, improving her delivery even more as she does it, which is even more amazing because she's pretty fabulous to start with.

All of which is to say that lately I've been remembering The Roches. My sister came across the music of these three a cappella genius sibs a long time ago and when she played their cassette for me, I was smitten. I listened to a lot of Roches during my crafty years, and maybe my renewed interest in Making is the reason I've been slipping over to YouTube to play some of my old favourites.

Yesterday, I bought their new disc, Moonswept. The three of them harmonize as wonderfully as ever and I love listening to them. Even if they do make me cry a little now.

(they probably won't make you cry, though. Especially if you read their dictionary.)

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