I’ve been thrilled by music since my earliest memories. I’ve always wanted to take part in the magic somehow. So I took a few guitar lessons in the second grade–enough to play “Old MacDonald” in a recital, and I played the keyboard in a band in high school–enough to play a few dives. But neither went anywhere.
I realized that was because I never really wanted to be a guitar player or keyboardist. I’ve always wanted to be a singer. The only problem with that was my other realization, that the sound of my singing could best be compared to Bob Dylan’s voice when he is imitating Kermit the Frog. But still, the act of singing is something I’ve loved.
For years and years, I confined my love to the car and when no one else was home, the shower. I also fed my desire through my job as a journalist. Anytime a decent singer came around, I got them on the phone and pumped the professionals for information.
Blue-eyed soul singer Boz Scaggs (sang the hits “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle”) describes what the act of singing feels like for him.
“It’s like flying. It’s like being free to soar. It’s challenging-going from one note to the next and one phrase to the next. You have to negotiate it. You have to know how to get there. They [notes] are like stepping stones and you have to hop, like crossing over a stream. It’s a beautiful feeling,” said Scaggs. “It resonates inside of you and it satisfies your musical perceptions. It’s just like flying. That’s the closest thing I can think of.”
I was content to watch others soar for years. My record collection grew and grew. I sat riveted at concert after concert. I interviewed every musician that came around. I could never get enough. Even as gray hairs started popping up, my passion never faded. I checked that passion to see if it was the same for the stars.
“What is it about singing that you enjoy so much? ” I asked rock-star Kenny Loggins (“Your Momma Don’t Dance and Your Daddy Don’t Rock and Roll” and “Footloose”). Loggins checked his own passion against that of his daughter’s.
“I have always loved singing! I am lucky that I still can…I have a 9-year-old daughter that’s been singing since she was 6. She is all about music and singing and that is very much the same joy that comes to me when I sing… She’s got so much bliss coming off of her. I recognize that from my own childhood.”
I followed up: “What, specifically, does it remind you of when you see your daughter singing and figuring things out for the first time?”
“It reminds me of when I was a little guy in Seattle–maybe 5 years old–and we’d go to the lake. I would be sitting on the beach and hear somebody with a transistor radio on…I would try to sit as close as I could to that other blanket while remaining inconspicuous, so I could hear the music. Music was so important to me as a child, and I can see that in my daughter,” said Loggins.
But what does someone who was born with a voice that’s not considered conventionally to be a good singing voice do? Was I doomed to watch the pros on the field from my armchair?