Author: Compton, Cliff

Singing from the heart (harmony)

I love to sing. I love to harmonize. I don’t back off much. I just let it roll. Body and soul. Not everyone feels that same freedom when they sing. That thing where you unbutton your sternum, pull open your ribs and just let her rip. Some folks approach singing like a 13 year old addressing the student body in their underwear. A scary proposition. Like a barefoot walk across a bed of nails.

Believe it or not, I fully understand that. My first time singing to a a couple of thousand people in my high school, had me shaking so bad that I had to hold the piano to keep from falling down. I was singing “born to lose” and I felt like what I was born to lose, was my lunch. It was both the most terrifying moment in my life, and also the most exhilarating single event that I had experienced up to that point.

As time has gone by, my perspective has changed. In the immortal words of popeye the sailor man, “I yam what I yam.” and I don’t try to hide it. I just put it out there without fear or favor. And what I am is a man who likes to sing.

Life can beat you down. It can crush your dreams and steal your crown. It can pummel you like a punching bag. Bruise and batter you. Leave you bloody and broken. It can fill your chest with regrets and your heart with sorrow. Leave you bent over and walking with both eyes on the ground.

But ahhhhh…..then there’s singing.

The creator sent us a balm for the weary. The joy that comes in the morning. As Mr. Dylan said, “any day now, any day now, I shall be released. There is medicine in music. When you open your heart and empty your sorrow, and share your joy, there is healing. When you sing a love song, and that one across the circle feels your heart…that’s good. When you sing a hallelujah song and your friends feel the glory…that’s good. When you sing a heartbreak song, and your heart breaks, and somebody says to themselves yeah, I’ve been there…that’s good. And when you release what is within you, others feel the freedom to release what is in them, and the souls of humanity are knitted together it least for a moment in time in harmony.

And when you join the chorus with some high lonesome harmony you are in some way supporting the life experience of your musical friends heart, and somehow, for that moment, everything is better in this old world.

I love my dear friend, Pat Calhoun. I love the way she draws the songs out of everyone that she has welcomed into the circle of her campsites down through the years. I’ve watched her coax softness out of hard, rough characters and peace out of sad troubled souls. I’ve seen joy released that would make a dead man dance, I’ve seen hearts opened that haven’t seen the sunshine in years. And I’ve seen the glory of God on faces you would never see in a church. And I’ve felt the joy. Man….Singing from the heart, and dancing in the key of life.

Posted:  10/8/2010

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