“It’s just like talking, except louder and longer and you move your voice up and down.”
Buddy the Elf (Elf, 2003)
When the mood takes me I sing in the car. I sing in the kitchen. I sing in the shower. Occasionally I sing in the office.
Usually, I need some accompaniment - the radio, iTunes, or something. But sometimes I find myself inexplicably warbling snippets from the bafflingly eclectic back catalogue in my head. If I could clear my memory of song lyrics I swear I could be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist. I know all the words to Nelly the Elephant, Snoopy versus the Red Baron and Summer Nights for god’s sake. What possible use I will ever have for the entire lyric sheet of A Night at the Opera is a mystery. Mind you, stick Bohemian Rhapsody on at any point and I’ll give you some “thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening” that would raise Freddie Mercury from the grave.
My favourite songs to sing, in no particular order, are:
Fill Your Heart (David Bowie)
A Town Called Malice (The Jam)
A Fairytale of New York (The Pogues), both parts
Burma Shave, and I Never Talk to Strangers (Tom Waits), both parts
Rudie Can’t Fail (The Clash)
Witchcraft (Frank Sinatra)
Respect (Aretha Franklin), which used to give my wife the collywobbles, until I became self conscious about it.
I don’t care how incongruous or unseemly it might be, for a bald, bearded, middle aged man to be singing teen anthems or winsome love songs, if it feels good, I’ll sing it.
When I was little, I was made to sing. At school. In church. In local Eisteddfods, for which we practiced for what seemed like most of the year. I confess, I mostly enjoyed it. There’s a rare energy in joining a congregation of voices, even if it is just twenty or so eight-year-olds. You feel multiplied, carried away with the throng. It’s a feeling I’d repeat any day.
Once a year my friends and I also did our best to make a bit of money from…