TALENT HAS NOTHING
TO DO WITH SINGING
I came home around 9:45 the other night after a long solo trip
in the car and announced to my wife that I had made a life-changing
She was watching one of those murder mystery documentaries
where one spouse has allegedly killed the other and is on trial. She's been
watching a lot of them lately, which makes me a little nervous. But that's
"What is it?" she politely asked, putting the
television on pause. I could tell she had absolutely no interest in my
latest epiphany and was much more interested in finding out where the killer
went wrong covering her tracks.
"I'm a baritone," I exulted. "After 63 years,
I've finally found my singing voice.
"That's nice," she replied. "Please don't give
me an example."
"Don't you want to know how I found out?"
"No. Please. No."
Secretly, I knew she really wanted to know. So I told her.
I was in the car by myself, coming back from Monterey. I was
getting tired, and one of the ways I can stay awake is to sing. An oldie but
goodie came on the radio and I belted it out. As usual, I was all over the
map, not even close to being in tune. Then out of the blue, it came to me.
Why not try singing like that guy on The Temptations, with that deep, deep
Boom! Suddenly I had confidence in my singing, for the first
time in my life. I had no range, but at least I wasn't making feeble
attempts to hit a high note. A whole new world opened up for me.
"You're going to love the new me," I said to my wife,
who was increasingly anxious to get back to her spousal murder. "Check
"DO-RE-MI-FA-SO-LA-TI-DO," I sang in my old voice as
she covered her ears, especially when I tried to hit the high notes at the
end. "Now listen with my new baritone voice."
I started the "DO" somewhere in the gutter, and never
moved much higher. My voice didn't crack at all, and while the last
"DO" didn't sound much different than the first "DO," at
least it wasn't embarrassing.
"What do you think?" I asked after my first
performance as a baritone.
"Very manly," she replied.
I took that to mean she liked it, even though I knew she
didn't. But at that point I didn't care. I was going with it.
My singing career was on the rise. No longer would I have to
stop in the middle of a karaoke performance of "Hey Jude" and tell
people I sounded better in the car. No longer would I get
those snide looks from the accomplished singers among my friends when I
tried to join in. They would beg me to accompany them with my new baritone
I'll even be able to sing my grandchildren to sleep, just like
I did my kids. Only now I won't impart irreparable damage to their ears. And
perhaps they won't even need therapy.
I might even be inspired to memorize the words to more than
three songs. My repertoire has always been limited to "Blowing in the
Wind," "Leaving on a Jet Plane," and "Puff the Magic
Dragon." With my new baritone, the grandkids might get to hear an
"I'm pumped," I said to my wife. "I can finally
embrace my Irish heritage, belting out ballads like my ancestors.
"You're only 18% Irish," she replied. "You
really don't need to sing. The Irish will forgive you. In fact, they'll
probably thank you."
She doesn't get it. She's not a singer, like me. I'm not even
sure if she has a good voice or not, because she rarely sings. She's usually
too busy trying to stop me from singing.
Not anymore. "Think of the road trips we can enjoy
now," I exulted. "With my new baritone, you can finally let me
sing and perhaps even join in. We can rock out in the car until the cows
I knew that was not going to happen, but it was fun to think
about. She just gave me the all too familiar eye roll and pushed the
"play" button on the remote. She was done with me, and my
I went into the kitchen and immediately unleashed a rousing
rendition of "Puff the Magic Dragon" in my new baritone singing
voice. It was my debut, but change is never easy. Just like the old days, I
was told to zip it.