“Cause baby love, my baby love, I need ya, oh how I need you….”
“Betty, is that Jimmy’s ring you’re wearing?”
“Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married…”
With the perfect glittery dress, plastic shoes, and toy microphone, I jammed in the bedroom of my childhood home. You see, as a kid, I could sing. As long as it was a 1950s-1960s girl group song. I owned it. I was a Supreme, a Shangri-La, and a Dixie Cup.
I had the girl groups’ greatest hits on cassette and those tapes were the best. And when I was in elementary school, my mom bought me every girl group and Motown sound album she found.
She also bought me dress up clothes from resale shops. My dress up clothes consisted of old prom dresses and gowns. They were inexpensive and I loved dressing up in “fancy” dresses.
I also got plastic dress up shoes from the toy aisle in Food Town. I think those were simply because they fit my tiny girl feet.
I put on concerts for my family and as I got older, I truly believed I could sing.
And as I grew up, I gravitated toward music that varied. Wildly.
The first cd I ever owned was TLC’s first album. Not Crazy Sexy Cool. The other one. This is directly from the girl group obsession.
In the early 90s, I loved Mariah Carey. I watched her concert video (on VHS), and sang along to EVERY song.
But on the other hand, I loved Prince. I know all the words to “When Doves Cry” and have since I was in middle school.
I could sing Springsteen songs. And I knew Led Zeppelin was the greatest rock band ever. But I thought Ann and Nancy Wilson were the coolest! And Joan Jett?!
I did actually sing in a talent show when I was in sixth grade. And… I was pretty.darn.good. For an eleven year old.
Celine Dion was also one of my favorites as a “tweenager.” See? Wild variations.
Yeah…I thought I could sing like her.
But then nerves set in. And I met a friend that actually could sing and I let her take that from me. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did. I let her sing and I let my own singing voice sit on a shelf.
I often tried to sing when I was a teenager, and when I was sixteen, a boy I liked told me my voice was good. I was singing “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, but I performed the cover of the song, like my then favorite band, Letters to Cleo.
I think he was humorimg me. I am pretty sure it wasn’t that great.
He didn’t have to. We never dated. And that was probably for the best. Obviously, he couldn’t be trusted.
I used to love playing music as well. I remember watching the marching band as an eager fifth grader thinking “I can’t WAIT to do that.” Their performance of The Terminator theme caught me and never let go.
I was in marching band and in the symphonic band all four years of high school.
And unknown to many, if not most, of my high school friends, I was in a flute choir and performed with them as well. I took private lessons and I was a very talented jazz player.
But I let my teenage resentment of my marching band director kill it for me.
I thought he had favorites, and not being one, I gave up on my music.
That was foolish. I was good but I wasn’t yet smart enough to know I didn’t need his validation.
The teacher I had for private lessons died a few years ago, and I hadn’t seen her since I graduated from high school.
That was thirteen years ago.
I haven’t played my flute since then.
I’m afraid she would be saddened to see that I’ve let that part of me atropy so horribly.
I have always found music a huge source of joy. I often think of picking my flute up and asking a graduate student to tutor me.
I love to sing and do it often. I have even performed karaoke, badly, on several occasions. And I love it!
My car is my favorite spot. I truly think that everyone sounds good in a driver’s seat. And I often drive like I am the star of my own music video.
When I’m stressed, “dance it out” is often a go to/cure all. I once said that my reaction to One Direction was embarrassing. I try to keep my dignity, but occasionally, modern pop songs are damn addicting.
I have never tried to write a song. Although I’ve written about songs many times.
I think those are two worlds I need to keep separated for now. I’m functioning quite well as a writer and teacher. Who needs to add “award winning songwriter” to that list?
See? Inflated sense of self. I’m a rock and roller all ready.
I thought of all of this tonight because I called our puppy “Baby Love” this evening. I hummed the song’s hook to her. She cocked her head like I was, in fact, the nuttiest person on earth. She might be right.
I shouldn’t have given up playing music. And I am serious about finding a would be tutor.
If I make a list of regrets, letting playing music fall away would be on it.
When I do this, I’m going to write a letter to Diana Ross. Maybe she’ll let me accompany her?
If not, I can sing Baby Love to the pup. She’ll think I’m okay, even if I’m not. She might even listen to my jazz flute music.
I can still partially deafen the neighbors and the friends that take pity on me.
The similarities between music and writing do not surprise me. I don’t think I would be a writer today without the love of music that I had first.
Even with the glittery dresses and plastic shoes.
Maybe the words in the songs did it.
And that is what I need to tell Diana Ross.
And the next time I think I should pick up my flute and play, I will. Squawk and all.
Because even “has been” musicians make come backs.