Good Morning! Happy 6am! Happy day #6 Glad you are back.
When we were children, we often had to ask our parents for permission - to eat a cookie, go outside and play with kids on the block, go to a school dance, nearly everything. Often times, we bring that behavior with us into adulthood. We find ourselves asking for permission to be great, chase dreams, live a life we've always wanted.
Well, today. I give you that permission. Permission granted to be great.
Now, I want you to give yourself permission for all of the things you've ever dreamed. List them out, flesh them out - all ideas and goals. Give yourself permission today on paper.
Again folks, this is first draft, rough cut. No haters please? Thanks ahead of time. Here we go:
I stood in the wings of the bar waiting for my turn to audition. The band was made up of some straggly boys who were great musicians, or so I thought, and heard me singing along with them when my friends and I went to see them perform. They wanted a female lead singer and I wanted to sing.
I didn’t have a traditional rock voice. I was more of a folk-balladeer mix. Think Rhiannon Giddens today, only an alto, like Mary Travers. I loved the traditional folk/rock singers of the day and knew almost every tune by heart. I sang constantly. It was an instinct.
As I stood there I rehearsed and re-rehearsed the two songs I had prepared. The band was a mixed cover band so I knew I would have to learn whatever they had. It would be easy for me. I was a quick study and could mimic some styles as needed.
I blew strawberries through my trembling lips. I sang violin ~ viola ~ cello ~ double-base, placing my voice in the various positions in my face, throat, chest and abdomen. Keeping my lips closed I sang ma-may-me-mo-moo and all the warm up variations I could think of using almost every consonant in the alphabet. I swung my arms above my head and shook them out. I took sips of water from the cup I found. With some sips I rinsed out my mouth and with others I swallowed. I was shaking so hard I could barely remember the songs I had prepared but I knew I would get through it. I was a singer.
Then it was my turn. I had heard three other girls sing before me but I wasn’t worried. I knew I had a good sound and even if they didn’t like me, I wasn’t embarrassed that I wouldn’t do well. I knew I had something. I wasn’t the best and I wasn’t the worst. I was just fine.
When I walked out onto the stage the lights shined in my eyes and blinded me for a moment. I had never had that kind of experience before. I pulled my hand up to shade my eyes and I heard the drummer chuckle saying, “rube” under his breath. The lead guitarist and the cutest one of the band asked me what I wanted. I told him, gave him the key and counted them off. “A one, uh two, uh one-two-three-four,” and we were off. I could feel the drummer pick up the beat along with the bass player, then the lead guitarist began the melody and I walked up to the microphone.
It was as though I had held a microphone in my hand my entire life. The trembling went away and suddenly the energy that I felt every time I practiced in my mother’s basement started coursing up through me. It ran up from my toes to the tips of my fingers and out the top of my head. Mostly the energy came through my voice and out into the audience, through the front door and spilled mercilessly out into the street. As the sound left me it became larger and more intense, the walls in the room began to vibrate and a glow came from the back of the space that I could see but not really see as my eyes were closed. My mouth captured each and every sound. My tongue danced with the vibrations. My teeth chattered in time with the drums and the bass, clacking out the rhythms the boys were sending into the ethers. We were in nirvana. I started moving my body to the rhythms, took the microphone off of the stand and sang to the boys, to the manager in the audience, the bartenders now standing still, watching. I could feel them feeling me and I felt them. Each of them. We were in a feedback loop dancing with one another though they only swayed at their stations. As the song came to a close the drummer thumped on the snare drum, the tom-toms, using his foot for the bass drum and then finally the cymbals. The crescendo at the end was epic, something I never experienced in quite the same way again. The first time is always the best. Isn’t it?
The boys were ecstatic. They applauded and each one in turn tipped a hat or a hand or a drum stick in my direction as a brava. We were glue.
The manager walked up to the stage, asked me my particulars and then said I could go. “You’ll hear by the end of the week,” he said, dragging on his Camel cigarette. “You have to be able to travel,” he said.
“Sure, I can,” I told him.
“By the way,” he said. “How old are you?”
I wanted to lie. I had gotten into the bar with my fake ID but I didn’t want to risk losing the gig. I told him the truth.
“16?!” he said, shocked. “Sorry deary, we play in bars. You gotta be 21 in Jersey.”
“But,” I wanted to protest but I knew the concern. Lamely I retorted, “I won’t drink.”
“Yeah,” he said over his shoulder. He was walking away. “That’s what they all say,” he said shrugging his shoulder and waving his hand at me. “Anybody else up there waiting to audition?” he called to the back of the band stand.
THIS IS WHAT ELSE I WANTED:
To sing and dance in a Broadway musical.
To be a writer.
And that’s it. Nothing else. That’s all I ever wanted. And it is not too late to be a writer. I get to use my voice in a different way now. I will write for the rest of my life.