Summertime and the living is easy. At least it used to be. Well, maybe it never was easy, but I have some wonderful memories of summer vacations with my family. There were the road trips, where we’d all pile into a car or van and fill the air with songs that had no particular importance. Camp songs – old songs – new songs – songs that stirred the heart – nonsensical songs about a dog named Bingo or a number of bottles on the wall.
I still sing in my car, but now I sing alone. My trips are fewer and less distant, but exercising my vocal chords is something I still enjoy doing. When I was performing in theatre, I would often speak my lines out loud or sing a show tune or two, as those driving beside me wondered what in the world was going on inside my car. The beauty of singing alone is that you don’t have anyone to answer to. You can sing your lungs out and no one will criticize your performance.
As I’m well beyond my prime singing voice, I still love belting out a song while I’m driving. You can always tell when someone else is doing the same thing in their car. The imaginary hand held microphone is a must. The facial expression is critical. The look of passion, pain or angst are all a part of it. Nowadays, I need closed captioning to tell me what the words are. Not because of my memory, but because I can’t hear nor understand what’s being sung. Too bad the car radio doesn’t come with that feature. Maybe it will someday.
Singing, like laughter, has healing effects. It’s like all the tension we hold onto, can come out in one giant guffaw or the lyrics to one of the songs from “Hamilton.” All of it is a cleansing of sorts – sweeping the cobwebs out – cutting loose – freeing the spirit.
Remember John Candy in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” singing the Flintstone’s theme song with other passengers on the bus? His counterpart, Steve Martin, had less of an audience with his rendition of “Three Coins in the Fountain.” Think about all the Broadway musicals, where normal everyday folks, suddenly give way to singing at just the right moment. Music has charms to soothe the savage beast. So next time you’re on the road, open up those pipes and sing. It can do wonders for all of us. Especially when we’re alone – or in my case, necessarily when we’re alone.