Singing on the Brain

I love to hear people sing.

Somtimes, when I’m at many desk at work, I hear a co-worker coming down the hall, and she is singing a song, or a thought, or a response to a question she’s just asked herself, or her frustration at something that just happened. She sings when she gets to work in the morning. She sings during the work day. She sings a little song when she closes her door and leaves for home at five. 

My oldest daughter, who still sings, and dances, and acts, started singing as soon as she could talk-maybe sooner. She would sing a pretty little song, complete with gestures or costumes or acting as the case might be, then stop, look up and sweetly ask her audience, “Again?”

People sing as they walk. They sing in the shower. They sing in the car, with the sunroof wide open or the ragtop down, every window open and the music blaring from car speakers or into earphones. They sing from mountaintops. They sing in valleys. They sing alone, in choruses, in ensembles, in opera choruses and in glee clubs. They sing responses to online questions. They sing into their phones, along with their televisions, to their loved ones or in front of millions of live and beamed-in viewers at the Met. 

What do they sing?

Scales. Arias. Rap. Blues. Rock and roll. Torch songs. Ballads. Gospel. Pop. Oldies. Love songs. They scream. They croon. They whisper. They speak. They parrot. They parody. They emote. They let go. They hold back.

Why do they sing? 

To tell us that the times they are A-changin’, like Dylan.

To remind us to love the one we’re with,  like Stills. 

To give us some of that old rock and roll music, like the Beach Boys.

To love us tender, love us sweet, like Elvis. 

To take us to Carolina in our mind, like J Taylor. 

To say goodbye to love, like Karen Carpenter. 

To take another little piece of our hearts, like Janis. 

To remember that the first cut is the deepest, like Sheryl.

Just to say Hello, like Adele. 

To  know that all we have to do is dream, like Glenn.


…because its just something they must, must, must do.

They thrill us, like Michael. 

Why do we listen?

To be distracted. 

To remember how to love.

To forget the pain.

To learn from our mistakes.

To feel happy. 

To relive those magic moments.

To say goodbye.

Singing,  like nothing else in this world, ushers us in, picks us up when we’re down, and gives us hope.

Singing makes us think, keeps us from thinking too much, focuses us, and distracts us. 

Singing accompanies us while we fall in love, helps us make babies, then helps us raise to those babies and, when it is time, helps us to tell them goodbye.

Singing celebrates milestones with us. It soothes us when we cry. It makes us laugh. It makes us proud. It makes us strong, as a nation, and as individuals. 

Singing takes words, notes, melodies, phrasing, and breathing, and turns all of our darkest fears, our finest ambitions, and our strongest commitments into something fearsome, something lovely, something that arches upward and spirals on the air and floats and frees and makes manifest that which we could never in a million years say on our own.

Singing makes us think about yesterday, keeps us fully in today, and never lets us stop thinking about tomorrow. 


Sing a lullaby to your sweet baby.

Sing a love song to your beloved.

Sing your patriotic allegiance to your country. 

Sing praises to your God.


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