I Got the Music in Me

But nobody wants me to let it out. I grew up when the Catholic Church was phasing from Latin Mass to relevance. So I got to be in a choir and sing stuff like “Panis Angelicus”, a beautiful, soaring harmony that makes you feel all shaky. And then I sang at Hootenanny Masses, where everybody chimed in on “This Land is My Land”. My point is, in a choir there are lots of people who can actually sing, who drown you out, but still let you experience being part of a euphonious group.

Then for years, the only thing I played was a stereo, working my way through the top 40, folk rock, and country, basically using music to score the soundtrack to my life. I made mix tapes before there were mix tapes. I used to drive from Denver to Chicago, stopping only for gas and new batteries for my cassette player.

I had friends who played in a band. One of them actually made some of my poetry into a song. Best present ever!

Still, I had come to accept my limitations, because certain unkind people said stuff like “You couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket” or, “Boy, are you tone deaf”. I can hear songs perfectly in my head, but what comes out is….. well, that tone deaf comment is pretty accurate.

Fast forward a few years. I am in a rocking chair, cradling my beautiful little toddler in my arms. I am rocking, her little eyes are closing, those dark lashes drifting down over those rosy cheeks. I am softly singing her a lullaby. Her big brown eyes flutter open, and she lifts that little starfish hand, all dimpled and perfect, to my cheek. It is a touching moment. I feel like a Madonna. Then the Baby pats my cheek, and whispers, “No sing, Mama. No sing”.

So for years I stifled. Then the Baby took up cello, keyboard, guitar. She made her own mix tapes to score her life, so I got tuned in to popular music again. However, partly to be a goofball, and partly because I really couldn’t understand all the lyrics, I got the words wrong. Drove that child nuts. Ha.

After a while, I didn’t care. I went ahead and let loose when I felt like it. And if I didn’t know the words, I made up my own. My family swears I have totally ruined Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin”, because I made it into a song about our ducks: “She’s a good duck, she sleeps in her duck pen, all the bad ducks, they poop in their duck pen….”

And unfortunately, I was somewhere when a soprano sang “The Rose” – that Bette Middler tearjerker – during a period when one of my cats was suffering incontinence. Next thing I know, I’m going around singing “Sometimes cats, they pee in boxes. Sometimes, cats, they pee in snow. Sometimes cats, they pee wherever, they are when they must go”.

And let us not forget the night, coming home from a party with Mr. GG, I had Bare Naked Ladies cranked up in the car, and was rocking along when I notice Mr. GG has quietly lowered the passenger window and is mouthing “Help!” to the people in the cars next to us.

I am tough. I can take a lot of humiliation. But that put me off for a while, I gotta admit. However, some good has come of all this. It has given me a sense of power. Now, if I want somebody in this house to do something, and they don’t want to do it, why, I just sing about it. I sing about the chore, about their reluctance, about the many possible consequences of their not performing the desired task. Next thing you know, they are up and moving, and my wishes are being fulfilled. Yep, the power of music is pretty incredible. I should know, cause I got the music in me.


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