October 5, 2011

Me Vs. Music

American Idle

I like to sing. My sister also likes to sing. If you knew us well, you would know this. There are a couple of reasons you should be aware of our singing behaviors. One: If you decide to take a road trip or participate in any other vehicular transportation with us, know that there will be singing. Two: If you don’t realize that riding with us means singing, chances are you will begin to talk while we’re riding and have to listen to the same song repeated ad nauseam, because you were yapping during our favorite verse of the song. (Pay closest attention to reason No. 2.) It is a serious pet peeve to both of us if, during one of our most stunning car performances, complete with the “Jesus, help me with this note” finger in the sky, you decide to tell us about work, politics or anything that’s not integral to what we’re doing at that very moment. I tell you this because I care about you, and if you happen to be riding with us, I want you to experience a variety of our best renditions without unnecessary repetitions. Ask The Boy — he’s been riding with me for years and has experienced many a song repeat. This isn’t a joke. Don’t test me.

There is another thing you should know about this habit of ours. If you think that changing the station or music genre mid-ride will save you … tsk tsk. You will be sad to know we are competent in our craft, fool. We can rip into Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn something fierce. Don’t let the skin mislead you. We were raised on this stuff. We had country cousins and city cousins. Our experience bridged the gap from our early years of ’70s Stevie Wonder funk to our ’80s metal obsession to an all-around deep fall into country, world music and anything and everything we could wrap our brains around.

You probably can get us slightly quiet with a raï tune, but usually only because we are not fluent speakers of Arabic. Don’t let us find a lyric sheet or fall asleep and learn the lyrics via osmosis. If that happens — it’s on! I have learned many a Bollywood lyric in my sleep. Language won’t stop us!

Our father was a singer. Well, let me back that up. Our father could sing. He learned well how to imitate the singers he admired and could carry a song if he needed to. Our father was also a stand-up comedian. We were encouraged from a young age to sing; we were also encouraged to act silly enough or crack crazy enough jokes so that no one noticed our failings in the vocal-stylings department. We learned early to compensate for things we were not always successful at by developing another skill.

I think we learned the compensation skill too well. We are perhaps overly adaptive, rapidly changing before we’ve given ourselves a chance to fully develop a skill — except singing, and that’s what I’m talking about here. Singing is the one skill my sis and I have never thought to surrender, no matter how good we are (or aren’t) becoming. To us, our “Mariah Scary” dreams are complete when we’re singing.

The car is a major point of reference because there are several performance options: windows up, windows down, moving on the expressway or sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic and singing to the car of teens next to you. These kids should know who the hell Rod Stewart is! The car provides a moving stage and the opportunity to do dances you could never recreate on a dance floor or an actual stage.

I challenge you to pack up your favorite CDs, learn the lyrics and pull up in your broke-down college ride, or your fancy BMW, and sing to the person in the car next to you. Here’s the thing, folks: We have lots of time to spend in our cars now. If you live or work in Indiana, you are used to long delays due to the bridge closure, so why not make it fun? Sing to someone today and make his or her traffic wait more fun.

Erica Rucker is a freelance weirdo, writer and professional wedding/portrait photographer at eElaine Photography.