My Childhood

Once upon a time…long long ago…in a church far far away…

Speaking of horrible singers…

I went to Catholic school for all 12 years of my childhood/teen education. In the K-8 school I went to, our grades went to mass at least three times a week. I loved going to mass (Me? I know!) because I luv luv loved to sing the hymns. There were several that were my favorites: “Lord of the Dance,” “Eagle’s Wings,” and “Here I am, Lord.” (If you were born and raised Catholic, you probably know the last two by heart.) I would belt out those lyrics in church like I was some sort of choir leader. Hell, I would sing those songs in the shower, I loved them so much.

One day, when I was nine (I remember this so vividly it is sad), my friend Michelle turned to me in the middle of mass and said, “You know you can’t sing, right? That you have an awful voice? Right? You know that and you’re just being funny. Right?”

I remember the immediate heart-ache I felt. What? ME? Can’t sing? ME? I immediately blew it off like, Of course I knew that, I’m just being funny! but on the inside I was replaying the last few years in my head. Were my classmates talking bad about me like I had heard them talk about other girls who couldn’t sing? When I joined in and mocked the bad singers were they all secretly mocking me? I was devastated.

As the years went on, I got plenty of opportunities to hear myself sing. And let me tell you: Michelle had been TOO KIND. I have an atrociously awful voice. Terrible. Painful. Dreadful. I can not carry a tune in a bucket. I have coped with this over the years and will still sing along with music that I love. (Especially Indigo Girls…I just can’t resist.) I usually will tell everyone around me, “I know I can’t sing. Don’t worry. But I’m going to anyway.” And then they all run away screaming with their fingers in their ears.

Seriously. I can NOT sing.

My point? This is why this phase of the American Idol auditions are so dreadful. I know what it’s like to honestly think you have an amazing voice, only to find out you are wrong. Dead wrong. Now, I would hope someone would have stepped in and told me the truth if I had mentioned American Idol, but if they didn’t? I know the pain of hearing the insult from one girl, whispered in my ear. I can not imagine hearing it from a panel of judges in front of the entire country. It makes me want to puke just thinking about it.

So, yeah. Sometimes people don’t realize how bad they suck.

Now – aren’t you totally dying to hear me sing now? Especially a church song? I know you are.

42 thoughts on “Once upon a time…long long ago…in a church far far away…”

  1. The sound of someone singing (or screeching) when they are truly happy is the most beautiful sound in the world. Never stop singing. It makes your heart happy. And that’s all that matters.

  2. Here I am lord is my Fav hymn of al time! Ok, was it not painfully uncomfortable to watch Paula last night? Have you seen the news interviews. Sista is whacked out of her gord and it’s ruining the dynamic of the show. Plus, there will be no Elliot this year…sniff. It will never be the same but I still gotta watch. Oh, the responsibility of it all.

  3. how funny … my 6 year old a couple of weeks ago let me know that “I think it is great Mom that you let EVERYONE hear that you can’t sing!!!” Amazing Grace was the tune … and I am sure I won’t be singing it again except in the shower!

  4. Okay, maybe you can’t sing, but you have a musical accent when you talk normally, so your voice is beautiful no matter what!

  5. I loved those last two songs too, except I went to Lutheran school and we only had to go to church once during the school-week. I thought I had a great voice (and still sort of think I can at least hold a tune) but my husband disagrees. And it does hurt when you find out you’re not nearly as good as you secretly hoped.

  6. “Here I am, Lord” is my go-to singing in the shower song. Also, “Sing to the Mountains, Sing to the Sea,” which is probably not the title of the song, but whatever.

  7. Totally remember those songs. My mom hates the one “Shine, Jesus, Shine” so we’ve promised her we’ll play that one at her funeral. 😉

    I’m a horrible singer too, but I still will. Mostly in the car and at church (different church, different hymns and there are some I just love love love).

    On The View this morning, Rosie had something to say about the auditions phase of “American Idol” and how she thinks its awful to embarrass these kids in front of millions of people. I kind of have to agree. You don’t need to encourage them but you don’t need to humiliate them and then air it on tv.

  8. First of all, I love all three of those songs. “On Eagle’s Wings” makes me cry.

    Second, I have a sister who for years (rightly) believed she couldn’t sing, but not suddenly thinks she can. She is actually sad about missing the deadline for auditions. If she had gone? I don’t think I would’ve said a thing, first because you never know what some person will think passes for talent. Second, I would rather have Simon Cowell hurt her feelings than me.

  9. I am soooo not a church goer, but somewhere along the way (I think Vacation Bible School as a child, but can’t be sure), I learned Here I am Lord, and I will get that song stuck in my head at the most randomest of times to this day.

    At least when it’s stuck in my head tonight, I know who to blame… 😛

  10. … or maybe she just said that because she was jealous. You know, the whole “she’s better than me at something so i’ll tear her down to make myself feel better” thing. And YES, I’m serious – I *have* heard you sing before. 🙂

  11. Dude – my co-worker totally just caught me singing the chorus to “On Eagle’s Wings” and asked me if I had been on a martini lunch. Lucky for you it’s been a while since this one has been stuck in my head so I’m okay with it. Thank goodness it’s not John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmitt!

  12. ha ha..hilarious post..!! i happen to love eagle’s wings..!! n m still scared that ppl will make some nasty comments abt me..so i try my best not to sing in public alone..even though i do sing in the church choir..!!

  13. “Dance, dance wherever you may be I am the Lord of the dance said He”.

    3 of my favorites as well. Can’t forget Be Not Afraid though.

  14. i hope you still sing to your little girl! no matter how afwul you think it sounds, i can promise you she is your number one fan!

  15. hmmmm….. I don’t think that all of the really bad ones actually think they can sing. I think some of them know that if they *totally* tank they can get their 15 min {ok, seconds} of fame and be on TV. I mean, didn’t William get a record deal and turn being horrible into a _job_?

  16. Thanks Miss Zoot because now I can not stop singing Dance, Dance , wherever you may be I am the Lord of the Dance said he……..it”s driving me crazy I can’t get this song out of my head

  17. Zoot, I LOVE to sing with the Indigo Girls. I can’t NOT sing along. And I sing both high and low parts. And loudly. I love to sing. I love the way it feels to sing. However, I cannot sing very well. So, I only sing in the car or to my baby girl when she is tired because Away in the Manger is the only thing that will put her to sleep sometimes.

  18. Zoot, I have a similar story involving religious school at the synagogue I attended growing up … except the rabbi told me not to sing anymore, as I couldn’t sing on key. I was maybe 7 or 8. I can’t sing. But who says that to a little kid?

    And my family wonders why I cheerfully refuse to be a dues-paying member now ….

  19. Oh lord, I remember back when I used to sing in a church choir… my good friend was really awful and it totally threw me off when she had to stand behind me. I never said anything, though. Maybe she still doesn’t know…

  20. Church is the place for singing loudly and not really caring that you can’t sing: God forgives us our sins, right? (At least that’s what I told myself.) And, of course, I will now be humming “Here I am, Lord” for the next three days. Great post.

  21. I can feel your pain. I always thought I could kinda sing some. I decided I wanted to sing real good, so I took an adult school class “Beginning Singing.” You had to stand up in front of everyone and sing into a microphone. Most everyone else could sing, some of them beautifully.

    Not me. It got worse and worse. It took every fiber of my being to keep going back and I only did because my mom said “I don’t know why you are going. You just can’t sing.”

    Well, she was right but I was too stubborn to admit it. Six weeks of torture for me, and especially for the poor instructor.

  22. here i am…going thru my head right now and probably for the next day until i can find another song to knock out.

    another Catholic song i remember from childhood is
    Be Not Afraid.

    ” Be not afraid…I go before you always, come follow me and I shall give you rest.”

  23. onsecondthought – I’m Angela. I’m coasting through my twenties, living a happy little life in Kansas City with my new(ish) wonderful husband, Nick. We are fresh suburban homeowners and recent initiates into working life. I have a few years of a graphic design career under my belt and am pretty enthusiastic about creativity and design. Nick endures the daily grind of a technology company cube farm and actually enjoys it. Weird. In our free time, besides being lazy around the house and acting like goofy dorks with each other, we love to hang out with our fabulous friends and family, check out art shows and go hiking, and one of us likes to devour anything and everything sports-related. (hint: not me)
    angela says:

    I’m sure even though you think you can’t sing, you have to be way better than me. I lip synch in church and feel guilty for it, but I just don’t want my neighbors to hear me.

  24. OMG… I remember those songs!!!! And yes, those were my favorite. I’m sure you have a great voice. I think we are always more critical of ourselves and I agree with your hubby that your friend was probably just jealous! 🙂

  25. I can’t believe you busted out “Eagles’ Wings”. No one could reach that high note and on Friday All School Mass I think everyone tried to sound worse than normal on purpose. I too went to Catholic school for my entire pre-collegiate education. Catholic School Girls Rule!

  26. I, too, went to Catholic school. Never heard of Eagle’s Wings though… We sang “Lord of the Dance”, which I loved. (I secretly still love it, even though I no longer consider myself Catholic and haven’t been to church in ages) My school was into songs with accompanying actions (like “Peter built the church”), especially ones that required the students to get up and move around.

  27. Really? I mean, REALLY? I never believe the interviews with Simon and Paula when they say these contestants actually believe they are good. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? Have they never recorded themselves and listened to it? Or is it that once you are tone deaf you just can’t tell you’re bad?

    I can just feel your shame when that bitch Michelle told you that. How awful!!!!

    Love all those songs and I’m Methodist, not Catholic…I guess they carry over! 🙂

  28. I had a friend say something like that to me– it was more casually dropped in a comparison to another friend (with a much better voice apparently). I was crushed. I know I’m not GOOD, but I didn’t think I was tone deaf. What does SHE know anyways?

    So if you ever want to duet with me… I’ll back you up, my sistah!

  29. I was a Catholic School girl as well and I loved those last 2 songs! I never heard of the first one though.

    Some people say I can sing, others say I’m way out of tune. Then again, I think the ones that said I could sing were either my parents (they’ll just always love you no matter what, huh?) and/part of the “Drunken Karaoke” days. Maybe it was just my song of choice?

    Maybe MrZ is right and you really CAN sing, but it just depends on the song?

    Maybe I should shut-up now?

  30. I’m with you on the American Idol pain. I watched it last night and had to fast forward (luv that TiVo) through the bad/awful/oblivious folks. I just can’t stand seeing the pain.

  31. I can’t sing either. But I also think the best part about Church on Sunday is singing the hymns. My husband just rolls his eyes at me and prays that I’ll tone it done a notch.

  32. Oh, you’re such a tease! Of course we have to hear you sing now. 🙂

    I didn’t know that, about you going to Catholic school. I guess you can sing hymns, just like I know the Baptist hymns from my childhood.

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