But. As soon as I got back in the car, bathed in a sheen of triumphant sweat, I knew something was wrong. I opened my mouth to sing a line.
I got back in the car after the gig, still beaming. The crowd had danced. I’d called and they’d responded. I’d not sung a bum note and my voice was clear and crystal, with a pleasing rasp at the high end. As I’d left the stage, each of my new band mates had clapped me on the back or shook my hand. “Well done, mate.” I’d finally arrived back where I thought I belonged. Accepted.
A long, whistling bark of a sound. Like the final seal of a once thriving colony dying alone on an ice floe. I drove home in silence.
In the morning, straight to the office for some vocal workouts. Up and down the scale through a range of vowel sounds. But my trusty, reliable old top note – a ringing G – was nowhere in sight. My voice collapsed like a rusty stairwell before it had even reached the E before.
A warm drink and some Strepsils and back into the breach… to nothing. “But I have a gig tonight,” I pleaded with my uvula. It shook with disdain.
I knew then what I feared: my voice cannot sustain 2 gigs and a 3 hour rehearsal a week. Not without coaching and training. But! I was booked in for 2 gigs a week from here until eternity… how could I do those gigs AND gain strength at the same time?
Maybe I could do the gigs and hope that they’d beat my voice into shape? I was reminded of a certain vintage of PE teacher who seemingly believed the same thing: “Slow runner, eh?” he would muse through his moustache. “Start running again. And keep running until you’re faster.” And off you’d trot, legs leaden, lungs heaving, returning even slower than your first lap.
No. It wouldn’t work. And I had to make a decision quickly: either abandon ship now, or risk really letting the lads down two months hence with a bunch of gigs booked and a singer with polyps or nodules decorating his throat lining.
Only once choice. Quit.
So I did.
It felt horrible that day, and it feels horrible now – because the buzz of being back on stage was immense. But if the gig schedule is too much too soon, then me and my 44 year old vocal chords are going to go down in flames – and I love singing too much to take that risk.
So again, I am singer without a band. A fork without a cutlery set. It hurts for now, but I will find the right set up. Once I’ve finished this 3000 pack of Lockets.