Written in 2013

The past few weeks have plunged me back to the 60’s and 70’s, music-wise. Folks like Jackson Browne, James Taylor, CSN, Neil Young (solo & with CSN), Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow, Janis Ian, the Eagles, etc. etc. (Okay, I’ve sprinkled in some Ben Taylor, Marcus Eaton and James Morrison for good measure, but I think you’re getting the drift).

These artists all have one thing in common: they write and perform songs that invite harmonization. They also bring back some wonderful memories of days gone by – spent onstage at one club or another, lending my voice in a backup role, making up harmonies where there were none or adding another layer to the voices already there. As I sing along to my aptly named “SING TO ME” playlist, the songs have the power to transport me back: to New York City where I joined talented performers like Wendy Wall, Al Rosa, Greg Aulden, and The Shane Gang (Shane Hue, Racine Romaguera, Benny Landa, Joe Glennon); to Huntsville, Alabama, where I joined talented performers like David Anderson, Antony & Andrew Sharpe, Linda Wood, and various musical theatre companies, as well as the University of Alabama, Huntsville choir, where I sang second soprano or first tenor parts (and served as the school’s “official” anthem singer for 2 years).

(with Rocky, left & Al, right – at The Back Fence, 1986 – I think)

Singing takes me to a very happy place. Even songs that pierce right to the soul, crush my heart and take my breath away manage to fill me with joy at the same time, especially if the singers’ voices mesh so perfectly, it almost feels as though I’m intruding on something extremely intimate just by listening. (If you’ve heard Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Brown’s live duet of “My Opening Farewell,” you know EXACTLY what I mean. If you haven’t heard it, click the video below. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

When I lived in Huntsville, my voice had that type of relationship with Andrew Sharp. Notice I said my voice. He was and continues to be a very nice guy – we were friends, but nothing more. There were songs we’d sing and at the end, look at each other and actually let out blissful sighs. I loved singing with David Anderson because he’s so damn talented, he’d follow me or I’d follow him. Either way, each song I sang with him felt like a lovely musical journey. Every so often, I sang backup on a couple of songs. Once, I somehow ended up singing lead on a cool version of “Atlantic City,” with David on backgrounds (we even recorded a version. The tape broke, so I no longer have it). I didn’t mind singing lead, but I preferred to sing backup and harmonies. I especially loved singing harmony for a song he wrote called “Every Moment In Between.” So poignant. SO, so poignant. I don’t know whether he still performs it, but I’ve been working with a friend here to record a version just to have it. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking, yet hopeful at the same time.

Since I moved to the Seattle area in 1995, there haven’t been many chances to sing. I had a wonderful time performing with co-workers in the KING 5 band for about a decade, but it was frustrating to practice for months, only to perform once a year. 

(with the KING 5 Band, 2004 – I think)

The bulk of my musical fixes come from anthem performances at various sporting events. I enjoy singing the American and Canadian anthems (sorry, I sing them very straightforward – you won’t hear any vocal acrobatics here.) 

(Performing the US anthem at a Seattle Thunderbirds game, 2011)

(Another T-Birds game – 20010, I think)

(Performing at a Seattle Mariners game, May 9, 2012)

(Canadian anthem at an Everett Aquasox game – 2011, I think)

(American anthem at Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships, 2012)

However, I miss getting out to open mic nights, lending harmonies to singers, accompanied only by a guitar or piano. Or a full band, like the fun times we had at The Bitter End with Shane, Racine, Benny, and Joe (otherwise known as “The Shane Gang”).Those guys taught me to appreciate Bob Dylan and John Prine (Shane had a wonderful smoky voice – imagine Tom Waits with fewer marbles in his mouth and slightly higher pitched tone). 

I’m rambling now, because it’s late, I’ve had a LOOONG day and I’m entangled in memories of wonderful times; memories I want wrap around me like a security blanket or a rocking chair that will lull me gently to dreamland and beautifully sweet harmonies. 

I only wish I could find opportunities to create more sweet harmonies when I awake.


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