On Music and Singing


On Music and Singing

“Let us sing now, not in order to enjoy a life of leisure, but in order to lighten your labors. You should sing as wayfarers do – sing, but continue your journey. Do not be lazy, but sing to make your journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep going.”  St. Augustine

As I read this, I realized that I used to sing more – just to myself, singing along with records, then tapes, then CDs. Carole King, Judy Collins, every Broadway musical through Cats, Evita –  well, maybe not Evita.

So when, why did I stop singing? Music changed; I changed – a few good years of re-singing when Rod Stewart came out with his Great American Songbook series.

And for the past several years I have included “more music” on my annual list of resolutions. Somehow music had almost disappeared from my life, and I missed it.

In my teens, my radio dial was set to Baltimore’s WCAO, a station that allowed me to learn lyrics to just about every rock-and-roll song played. I did my homework with that 4/4 beat pounding in my ears, brain and soul. Once I got to college, I found that I needed silence to study – I could not grasp  difficult concepts with the Beach Boys competing.

I moved to Detroit when Mo’town was at its peak, the Beatles were fading, and both had a place in my heart. These were soon, not replaced, rather superseded, by Carole King, James Taylor, and, my god, the Moody Blues.

But music, there was always music.

In Chicago I became fascinated with Baroque, so Vivaldi, Beethoven vied with Astrid Gilberto and Stan Getz, the bossa nova rhythm discovered early and always fancied.

And then, and then…. what happened?

My precious vinyl replaced by tapes; my tapes replaced by CDs; and stereos, which one could turn on with a button, replaced by sound systems, which you now need to hook up via a TV set. (My husband actually had to go out and buy one to install an upgrade.) Too complex; too complicated. And I have long been in the cohort who doesn’t like the music of the day.

Ah, well…. there is still my car CD player – that, I can handle. A choice between NPR and CDs of music that takes me to my past. Well, which would you choose?

So thanks, St. Augustine, for your advice. I’m even singing as I write this!