a wandering woman writes

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

And the Angels Sing

We don't sing anymore.

I feel like a long married woman looking across the table at the wrinkled face that's greeted her every morning for decades.

But no, it's just me, talking to my paisanos back in the States.

Why don't we sing more?

You'll all accept my apologies in advance if I land in Boston November 15 only to discover hordes of Americans blissfully harmonizing their way through Logan airport.

I have long wanted to write a post about how freely and gosh darnit - whether it's genes or education - how well the Spanish sing. I've yet to hear a Spaniard sing timidly. Or off key. I get this vision of my father, the musician, shaking his head as he tells me, "See? See what music in the schools can do?"

Is it music is the schools, Spaniards?

I had the title of the singing post on my to-blog list for months: And the angels sing. Warmly dedicated to the group of young men who worked outside my office during the 2 years I spent working inside a Salamanca company, including a star soloist named Ángel. My coworkers sang from 9 to 5, gladly took requests, and many a day made my day with a rousing rendition of "These Boots are Made for Walking" (I couldn't make this up, I swear). You haven't truly lived until you've been serenaded by 10 young españoles joining Nancy and Frank Sinatra on "Something Silly Like I Love You". Friday afternoons they brought out a children's song pasted on some website or another and belted out "Sí Toco La Trompeta" in perfect unison, trumpet noises and all.

I miss my serenades.

So I was less than shocked when I confessed my curiosity about the musical courage of the average Spaniard to a friend....only to see her leap from her chair, grab me by the arm and confess a long held worry about her American husband.

He doesn't break into song, it seems. Asked why, our stoic American dares to speak the words his wife assures me have never crossed Spanish lips: I
don't sing.

He accompanies this statement with a shrug, apparently. It's the shrug that really worried her.

She's spent years convinced he's survived some horrible trauma he is still unable to share with her. It was my pleasure to set her mind at ease.

He's fine, I told her: Just American.

So, really, my fellow self-conscious Americans, why don't we sing more?



  • Oh ... I giggled but tried to hide it because it's serious too.

    New Zealanders are also too uptight to sing, and ask us to dance then watch us die. I think the Turks worried about my inability to freely let it all go from the outset when dancing.

    How I envy you your working day serenades though ...

    By Blogger woman wandering, at 11:04 PM  

  • When I learned how to play the uke, I was delighted to start hanging out with a bunch of people who sing together. We're sometimes very bad, but who cares! And since hanging out with them, I have done something I thought I'd never do, which is stand in front of a crowd and sing. Alone.

    So this American DOES sing.

    So there.

    By Blogger Pam, at 3:09 AM  

  • Erin-

    Are you really going to be in Boston... if so, I'd love to meet to have lunch or coffee. :D


    By Anonymous AdriftAtSea, at 8:56 AM  

  • This American sings, too!!
    When you get to Logan, just listen; I'll sing really LOUD!!!!

    By Anonymous kate, at 3:58 PM  

  • LOL, Pam and Kate, yeh, I sing, too (mostly while ironing, cooking and driving, if you must know...) but c´mon, let's cough up that PLENTY of Americans (myself included, for YEARS and YEARS) have said they just do NOT sing in public.

    Hmm, Kate if I am allowed to be a brat....sung at Karioke night yet??? :)

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 10:35 PM  

  • Dan,

    I'm going to see my mom in RI for Thanksgiving, so I'm flying into Logan. Send me an email; I'll be wandering around New England for 10 days visiting folks, so yeh, let's try to meet up, if you'll be around that week.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 10:37 PM  

  • And the weird thing I have to add, Kate and Pam, is that I truly have yet to hear anyone here sing off key....And I hear all kinds of people sing - all the way down to neighbors in showers (thin walls, don't ask.)Do they just learn to sing, do you think???? That's my current theory. Or is a good ear in the genes?

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 10:42 PM  

  • It's got to be something in the genes - the Spanish singers I have worked with so far are ALL remarkably naturally talented, to a man or woman.

    Maybe that's why I feel so at home in Madrid? I sing all the time. My ex used to bitch about it (and HE'S A SINGER TOO). Now I live in a country where it isn't even remarkable when I go bopping down the street singing Mary Chapin Carpenter, or whatever. And thank heavens for that.

    Maybe if Americans sang more it would help...

    Drop me an e if you like, I'm in NYC till November 13.

    By Anonymous Kathleen, at 6:56 AM  

  • Hey Kathleen,

    AHA! It's not just my imagination!
    Actually I went to a wedding Saturday that convinced me something's up here-- A choir of people I know, who hold down normal day jobs and have not studied voice, as far as I know...sang at the ceremony...and dear God, how can these folks I know from work possibly have learned to sing like that?

    Nice national talent, says me. Singing.

    Enjoy NYC - I'll drop you a line.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:22 PM  

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