A new series: Shitpost Tuesday where I force myself to write whatever in an attempt to stop thinking so much about qUaLiTy. And yes, it actually is Tuesday.
Last year’s goal was to attempt to become a modern-day bard of sorts. A traveling musician. Something like that. Sometimes you can see people like this in movies; they’re bearded, dirty-looking dudes high on weed at a park or on the side of the road sitting cross-legged playing some reggae on their guitar/ukulele, with the case next to them that people chuck money into. Like a lot of money too, at least in the movies. Sometimes this dude doesn’t even have a stringed instrument: I’ve seen someone walking down the bike path playing bongos. Dude was barefoot, shirtless, had dreadlocks, was obviously stoned out of his mind just walking down the path slapping a pair of bongos. You can give the guy shit all you want for being a modern day bum/stoner, but the man was living his best life; he didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought of him at all, and you could tell he was at peace with the universe.
My friend is a natural musician. We hung out a few time, and he, usually drunk, had the ability to pick up a guitar, play a few chords, get into some jam, and then start singing. I’d ask him if it was a song he’d already written and he’d always say, “No. I just made it up right now.” His guitar playing was sloppy at times, but never lacking in emotion. And his lyrics that he conjured on the spot? Fucking straight out of some depressed emo/indie bands catalogue. Like if the guy sat down, recorded himself, chiseled the songs into sometime more solid, wrote some lyrics down, he could be playing shows in no time. A full album and a following would almost certainly happen to him. Sadly, he’s pretty chaotic and doesn’t seem to give a shit about making a single song that is a fully-fledged song. Getting drunk, jamming, and singing in his living room/park is just fine by him.
I always admired his creativity and wish I could channel just a little of his spirit. That not giving a shit and just creating something spirit which I sorely lack. Singing? Nope, can’t do it. I’m scared. I’m embarrassed. Lyrics? No idea what to write about. As soon as I write something or think of something I instantly think it’s trash and not good enough. The music? Not nearly as creative as my friend’s, but my songs are a ton more structured because that’s how my brain rolls. And the singing? Uh…
Last year I went to the park to learn to sing/play in public but away from masses of people. The playing part is fine — I can get into the zone and jam away, playing music that I’m actually proud of — but singing? Oh my God. The park I went to is a popular disc golfing park, but popular in regards to disc golf isn’t saying much. The park is often deserted and the spot I play will only have one or two people every five minutes pass nearby, and by nearby I mean like 300 feet away. This is still too far to sing; what if they hear me?!
And even more surprising, I’m scared to sing in front of myself! I sound stupid. I sound silly. I think my voice is nasally and I can’t find/hold pitch to save my life. I fully understand being unable to sing in front of others, social embarrassment and all, but how the fuck can you not sing in front of yourself?
Another friend said that, “Everyone is a musician because everyone has a voice. And everyone can learn to use that voice to sing.” Meaning no one lacks something fundamental that prevents them from singing. To him it’s all about learning to control your voice, and while that makes me feel better it sure doesn’t help me actually being able to sing.
Many musicians have awful voices too, especially the style of trash I’d be trying to do. Johnny Rotten from The Sex Pistols is just screaming the whole fucking time in a snotty, Bri’ish tone. He doesn’t give a shit about how his voice sounds because it’s supposed to sound awful: it’s 1970s punk after all. And then there’s Black Francis from the Pixies. His voice is fucking terrible. It’s high-pitched, screechy, whiny, and pretty awful. But you know what? He makes it work with the type of music the Pixies play. His voice even grows on you somehow to where you like his singing. You even have John Lennon who, I think, didn’t like how his voice sounded. You know, one of The Fucking Beatles didn’t like his voice. Granted, Lennon does have a higher voice than you’d think, and it does sound nasally at time, but Lennon makes up for this by being a fantastic song writer. I can put more example — Jello Biafra (yes, that’s what he calls himself) from The Dead Kennedys is especially bad, oh! And the guy from Slayer? Is that even singing? — but that’s good enough. My point is having a shitty voice doesn’t make you a bad singer somehow. Maybe it is about control: controlling what type of music to play to fit your vocal style or lack thereof.
I’m on a bit of hiatus because it’s fucking cold out but as soon as it warms up I cannot wait to hit up the local disc golf haven to play my shitty guitar and try to sing with my shitty voice. I’m trying to ease into things and git gud at playing/singing a collection of cover songs. A few examples, Revolution Rock and London Calling from The Clash and This Year by The Mountain Goats. A bunch of Green Day songs are in there as well — I think my voice is passably similar to Billy Joel Armstrong’s — but doesn’t everyone already play Green Day way too much? After that, well, I hope to ascend eventually to modern day bard, camping at the local Popular Bikepath to play music in a quaint way for all the random people that walk/run/bike by. It’ll probably take me a decade to feel comfortable with that though.
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My other blog where I
sometimes never post stories but might get around to it sometime soonish.