Some beliefs change with the seasons. But those that are most dear to us develop with time and grow into something we faithfully honor. This is true for my strongest belief. It has come a long way, but I can now firmly state that I believe in singing along.
I used to believe that people who sang along at concerts ruined the show. After all, I paid good money to hear Dave Matthews, not Dave Peabody, the jerk that happened to be standing awkwardly close to me, pouring his heart and soul into the words “Mom, it’s my birthday,” as if he was practicing for – or reliving – an American Idol audition. But, before I knew it, I was singing right along with Dave…and Dave. I bit my tongue and withheld all inappropriate comments I would have normally made to that tone-deaf imbecile beside me for ruining my show because I was, no doubt, ruining his show, too.
But my newfound belief didn’t stop at concerts. I began proudly clamoring out the National Anthem at every football game I attended. It felt patriotic. It felt…incredible. Who cares if I didn’t know every single word and I could carry an obese gorilla farther than I could carry a tune. It’s not like more than a handful of unfortunate people could hear me anyway.
However, my proudest moments of musical notoriety haven’t occurred in a stadium, but rather when I’m alone in my car. I’d turn up the radio just loud enough to drown out the otherwise noticeable difference in pitch and then let her rip. I’d belt out my favorites, push through the dopey pop songs with a cynical tone, and struggle to keep up with the rap hits, totally ignorant of the offensive and degrading phrases I was undoubtedly repeating. And the slow songs, well, I’d dedicate each one to that special someone.
But it wasn’t until the day my mother died that this juvenile belief in singing along became genuine. I felt alone, empty, and numb, as if part of my soul had been ripped away from me. I only knew one place to turn for advice, and it required headphones. I closed my eyes and took a long stroll down Sullivan Street and nodded in agreement as Bob Marley told me every little thing was gonna be all right. I cussed along with Korn’s angry rants and cried along with the soulful reflections of Billy Corgan. The anthems, the ballads, hell, the power ballads, they all made me smile. They all comforted me. And they were all mine. And I sang along with each one, loudly, anxiously anticipating its end, and pressing rewind the moment before.
I believe in singing along, whether I’m in a crowd full of screaming fans listening to a live performance; or in the car with a few friends, no destination, and a CD full of one hit wonders; or simply alone in my bedroom, just me and my iPod.
Sing like you think no one’s listening, they say. Well, I say sing like you don’t care who’s listening.
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