Why I’m singing

February 2, 2021 by Joshua
in Art, Creativity

I came to singing for polluting less, I’m staying for self-expression and discovery. If you want to know what inspired me without all my talk, jump the last video at the bottom of this post. If you know of a better singing performance—I could imagine its equal, but not sure anyone could better it.

As for me and singing, if you haven’t listened to my podcast episode recording my before and after practicing singing, the tears, and overcoming shame, I recommend it. Here it is:


I’m only a couple months in to . . . to what? Just singing to myself in the park. Nothing to be proud of or to show off. Still, I love it. As Martha Graham said

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.

I can’t believe I waited nearly fifty years to practice. No, not waited. Cowered in fear and shame. I could have practiced any time.

New developments

After seeing Lady Gaga sing the national anthem at the inauguration, I put the song into my rotation. It’s complicated, but rewarding to sing. I hope after a few hundred tries to reach where I sound professional. In the meantime, just exploring the words and complex grammar is rewarding.

I hadn’t thought about flags much before or why people care about them so much. In graduate school a roommate was in ROTC and didn’t get why he valued his uniform so much. Thinking of a fort under attack, defending a population of family and neighbors, as long as that flag keeps flying, people know their troops are still defending them. I never considered what effort troops expended to keep the colors flying. The must rise above the fog of war to signal the men, likely as valuable now as thousands of years ago. Symbols are a tool of leadership.

If any readers have served or are serving care to enlighten me, I’d appreciate it. It’s new territory for me coming from unearthing meaning from the national anthem.


I looked up performances of the national anthem and again was brought to tears. Read the Wikipedia page for background on the historical importance of Jose Feliciano’s or Jimi Hendrix’s versions, but most of them stand for themselves.

Searching for versions to watch led me to discover a performance by Aretha Franklin that brought a United States President to tears. After watching the Star Spangled Banner performances, I defy you to watch Aretha’s performance without feeling moved—to tears, laughter, standing up and singing, I don’t know, but something.

Hard not to see Whitney Houston’s at the Super Bowl as the female standard

Marvin Gaye’s 1984 NBA All Star game: who could have imagined this direction? I can’t imagine anyone outdoing it. He served in the Air Force.

Luther Vandross equaled it, I’d say

Jose Feliciano was the first, I understand, to take it in a potentially controversial direction, during the 1968 World Series. It apparently hurt his career for years, but opened the door for others to interpret the anthem. Now the baseball hall of fame has it on permanent exhibition.

Jimi Hendrix, who served in the Army, took that direction to its limit, here at Woodstock. Beyond a work of art, a cultural statement to last ages.

Despite Lady Gaga inspiring me at Biden’s inauguration, I’m posting her at Super Bowl 50:

Beyonce at the Super Bowl, in a many-way tie for first place:


Aretha Franklin performed at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors this year, paying tribute to Carole King, who helped co-write the song she performed “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”


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1 response to “Why I’m singing

  1. Pingback: Me singing, mortified, but how else do we improve? What else are we here for? » Joshua Spodek

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