After our show the other night a woman came up to me and said, “I really needed that – thank you.” I am always so touched to hear something like that. It makes my heart happy. What’s really moving is that was the fourth gig in a row someone has said that very thing to me. I’m listening…
The song that’s really hitting people is “I Will Raise My Voice”. When I introduce that song I tell people that for as gregarious as I seem to be I still have to really summon the courage to speak when there’s something on my heart to say. Truth is I have to summon the courage to speak A LOT. I also say I know I’m not the only one that’s true for, but I’m finding out night after night just how many of you feel the same way. That’s a real gift to me because every night, singing that song is scary. I’m afraid it’s too long, too heavy, too preachy, too whiney, too self-indulgent, too much information… But I’m understanding more each day that it’s too important not to sing. Not important like la-dee-frickin-da look at me making relevant social commentary – but important enough that inevitably someone is moved to thank me for it at the end of the night. To me that’s more important than relevant social commentary (and not just because most of that goes over my head).
I have to rip my heart open to sing - that song especially. But that’s when the singing’s really good. I promised myself I would sing that song at every show I play. Because if I don’t, I’m reinforcing the very fear it was written to exorcise.
I will raise my voice – though I may be afraid
I will raise my voice – I will not be ashamed
Mine may only be a simple song but it’s mine to sing
And if I don’t sing no one can sing along so I will sing
Whether in pain or in praise
Until the end of my days
With all my heart I will raise my voice
That goes for every time I’m in a less than pristine listening environment too, like when I’m singing my heart out and someone 10 feet away is talking their head off. I mean for the love of God, people, don’t do that to someone while they’re singing or one of these days one of us is going to go all Steven Slater on your ass. I admit I have fantasies about saying something like “Ma’am I will happily give you your $15 back if you will take your conversation elsewhere so that the people who came to listen to the music can FUCKING HEAR IT.” As gratifying as I imagine that would be, I don’t think I could ever do it. First because I suck at tell-offs and second because I don’t think I could recover from it and keep singing and that would defeat the whole purpose. Damn.
I saw a twitter post recently that said something like “Talking while people are listening to live music is like dancing in front of the TV while someone’s watching a movie.” It’s rude as hell and I have a hard time not getting upset when it happens to me, no matter how many zen thoughts I think. I’ll be the first to admit I have a real hard-on for rudeness (not exactly channeling Ghandi in that regard, I know) but to me that behavior goes beyond rude and crosses over into some other realm. It feels personal. I know it’s not but I can’t help taking it that way sometimes. (Uber-sensitive Pisces + heart ripped open in song = big honking magnet for imagined personal affronts.) I’ve been in tears many times after nights like that and thought to myself “That’s it – I can’t do this anymore – it breaks my heart too much. Time to go teach math.” But not singing would break my heart even more – which brings me back to why I wrote “I Will Raise My Voice” and why I will sing it everywhere I go. It’s my touchstone, my lifeline, my calling, my purpose. And I know it’s my gift – the one given to me and the one I have to give. If I don’t sing no one can sing along – so I will sing.
So to every one who’s ever thanked me at the end of the night – thank you. I really needed that.