Shall I sing you a song?


Would you like me to sing you a song?

Well, tough. I have lost my singing voice.

Doesn’t he go on?

I can hear you now as I mention that dreaded word illness.

Now don’t worry, I am not going to carry on all week about my particular batch of health problems, I promise.

It is just that, apart from my brain haemorrhage and its side-effects, I have actually had another illness over the last year, probably a virus infection but I don’t know, which went to my larynx last summer and which, to some people’s relief, has stopped me doing what I used to be one of my principal pleasures: singing.

I lost my voice last August and couldn’t speak for a bit but as that improved slightly I discovered that my singing voice had practically gone Yay! shouted all those folk that I had bored with my rendering of various previously popular classics.

I discussed this with my doctor and went for tests in the month before my haemorrhage and found out that I didn’t have throat cancer or anything visibly wrong with my larynx or my chest. A little camera on a wire was pushed down my throat and I could see myself choke on a monitor – nice.

Well then all the drama of brain haemorrhage put this little episode to one side and stayed there until last month when I was asked to sing at my kungfu club’s annual camp to a backing band of guitar, banjo, ukulele, maracas and tambourine.

It was there, performing in a gazebo in the middle of a forest that I discovered that I could turn the opening phrase of Blue Moon into the sound of a gargle and that something that would once have been easy, say an Elvis Presley ballad, was an exercise in interpretation over tone.

Something, quite simply, had gone.

Being a show-off and someone who actually enjoys performing I had struck a problem and, being, well I like to think, an old pro, I had to work out how to entertain the troops with what I had left which was really very little.

What did I have?

1) A lot of confidence that was probably ill-advised.

2) A lot of performing experience from the days when I really could sing.

3) The capacity to make a lot of noise by using my singing technique even when the voice was waving me goodbye.

4) The urge to communicate to an audience.

Well, I know it was to an audience of friends but it came off.

Luckily, we had gone for a wide repertoire of songs ranging from Rodgers and Hart, The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Prince to other more eccentric fare where I could try to ride above my vocal limitations in songs like Ukulelele Lady and I like Bananas. Where once I would have floated a phrase, I know found myself half speaking it and where once I would have concentrated on the sound that I was making, I now went for eye-to-eye performance with the words given all the importance.

OK, I was only singing silly stuff but I found my level when we tackled Hunting Tigers and I’m an Urban Spaceman by that grand old Sixties band of anarchists, the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

When I got going, not only did the audience respond but I was actually enjoying myself.

I am going to the doctor again this week to see if there is anything they can do about my voice but in the meanwhile, I was thinking about this lesson in singing.

If I hadn’t got a beautifully produced voice any more then why not go down that well-worn route where vocalists with flawed techniques actually end up in history as the greatest singers.

Bob Dylan, Edith Piaf, Fred Astaire and Leonard Cohen amongst others.

I think I might enjoy this new singing technique and I might have just discovered Showbiz.

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