The other night “Dancing in the Street” came on in Publix while I was doing my grocery shopping. Naturally, I sang along.
Then I walked past the dude from the meat department (or some other Publix employee).
I kept singing.
This is not something I might have done a few years ago. I would have stopped and gotten a very bashful look on my place. I might have been just too shy to sing out at all. Most of us are (besides in the shower, of course).
It was a growth moment for my own self-confidence and general not-giving-a-damn skills to become comfortable with singing in public. But being willing to pick up a tune (even if you aren’t a Sinatra) outside in the world has its other benefits.
Singing offers expression to mood and mind in ways that talking can’t. Just as poetry is better than prose at expressing some things, so a few lines of a hymn are better at describing nature, or a few verses of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” are better at expressing a feeling of, well, being charmed by an uptown girl.
Singing also creates instant community. One day I was trail running with some friends and encouraged some passers-by to join me in belting out “Eye of the Tiger.” One of them smiled and indeed joined in for a moment, and it was glorious. Perhaps you’ve known the joy of singing with strangers before: it’s one of the great things about concerts.
But though music is now more popular than ever, it doesn’t seem to be something we really express to each other in our own voices. Maybe that has something to do with people’s (seemingly) increasing self-consciousness.
But I know I’ll remember that my grandfather used to sing, a capella, in his own limited voice. It was one of his ways. And I feel like we’re missing something that people (like him) of previous generations had in singing. Singing shouldn’t just be for the professionals. It’s a very human tool which every human can use to make life a bit more melodic.