Shawn Henfling isn’t ashamed to sing anywhere. Are you?
Music, in one form or another, has been around since prehistoric man. We can surmise that it began with very simple percussion instruments and slowly evolved and changed into the eclectic mix of music we have today. Sometime around 700 BCE, man began to add vocals to the music, and everything changed. Skilled vocalists have wowed audiences and brought emotion simmering below the surface into full boil since almost the very beginning. Can you guess what I have in common with those singers? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I can’t sing. I don’t mean to say that I’m incapable of the act of singing, because that would be a lie. I am more than capable of making loud, out of tune noises with my vocal chords and mouth. To be clear, I am absolutely devoid of talent in the arts. Other than writing of course. I dun write good. My parents frequently asked if I could sing solo. Yeah. They asked me to sing so low they couldn’t hear me. Friends often accused me of singing like a crow. I sang karaoke once and the bar emptied. I’m that bad.
Still, I love to sing. In high school I tried out for and somehow made our yearly drama club presentation. For three years I proudly played my bit part and sang in the chorus. To this day I have no idea why Dennis, Carol and Bob kept giving me parts and allowing me to sing. I’m forever grateful, but nonetheless perplexed.
I’ve never taken voice lessons. With a voice like mine, why bother? It doesn’t matter. I still belt out my favorite songs. I’ll sing just about anything from Eminem to Bob Marley and Tom Petty to Rammstein. I do an awful Du Hast by the way. I’ve wowed people in Walmart with a little KISS and folks at work with “All About That Bass.” I’ve been caught belting out whatever song happens to be stuck in my head at red lights and stop signs (All too frequently it’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”) in just about every state in the union. I’m the furthest thing from bashful that you can find (at least as it relates to my ability to serenade people).
Singing makes me feel good. It lifts my spirits and changes my mood. In the morning when my ass is dragging and Pat Benetar comes across my Pandora station I can’t help but pound out my best “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” I can’t be down or upset when my man Bob Marley comes on, and when “Bullet With A Name On It” shoots across my phone, I can almost recall my head banging days. I never had that much hair, but I could give myself whiplash with the best of them.
The bottom line? I sing like crap. I’m awful. Terrible. I’ll never be an American Idol or even a Honky Tonk Hero. I’ve got Friends in Low Places, but none of them will ever pay me to sing. Why keep doing it? Why continue putting myself out there where anyone can hear me, laugh at me or ask me to shut the fuck up for Christs sake? Because. Because music reaches down to my very core and changes me. It’s contagious and we should be more accepting of people who want to sing.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of the people I went to school with are undeniably talented. Ben Dibble and Lucas Steele, two friends from my High School days, both sing and act professionally. They have the talent to stop people in their tracks. Me? When I sing, people stop in their tracks as well. Usually it’s to throw things. I stand in awe of talent like that, but I still sing along. Why not? Music has power that I’m not sure we’ll ever understand. Do we have to? Why not sit back and enjoy it and if the mood strikes, sing along. I’m not ashamed to sing anywhere. If you don’t like it, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”
Photo Credit: Alan/flickr