The sound of song
Brian Eno has much to say on the subject of singing:
I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness, and a better sense of humor.
You can read the whole thing or listen to his voice.
He may be overselling it but I think he’s onto something, as I noted last time I sang karaoke in Brighton. And it’s not just karaoke—singing in a church choir, playing Rock Band, performing in a cheesy covers band …none of these activities really have anything to do with virtuosity and everything to do with opening up the lungs and passing air over the vocal cords in an uninhibited way.
I used to sing all the time. Before I had a “real” job it was how I made ends meet, busking my way ‘round Europe.
These days when I reach for my bouzouki or mandolin, it’s usually to play some tunes—jigs and reels. But lately, with Grant McLennan on my mind, I’ve been rediscovering the songs of The Go-Betweens. As well as listening to their back catalogue, I’ve been recalling their songs I used to sing and I’ve started singing them again.
It feels good. Eno describes it thusly:
You use your lungs in a way that you probably don’t for the rest of your day, breathing deeply and openly. And there are psychological benefits, too: Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness.
It feels especially good in combination with the plucking of strings …or as Shakespeare put it:
Is it not strange that sheeps’ guts should hale souls out of men’s bodies?
For no particular reason, I’ve been recording some of those Go-Betweens songs. They’re very rough. They’re very lo-fi. But playing and singing them …well, it just feels good.