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Friday, April 12, 2019

Where Was I . . . Sing, Sing a Song!

My husband received the book, Thanks A lot Mr. Kibblewhite, the Roger Daltrey biography, for Christmas, and I promptly snatched it and read it. Daltrey, if you don’t know, is the lead singer of The Who, arguably one of the best rock groups of all time, up there with the likes of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. One of the things that stood out in this book for me was how Daltrey said that the happiest time in his life was when he was working as a teen as a “tea boy,” a kind of “gofer” in an asbestos shed. Even though the job was tedious he recounts:

“We sang all day, every day. We used to drive the guv’nor mad. He wouldn’t let us have a radio, and I’m glad he didn’t because then we wouldn’t have sung. I can’t tell you what a difference that made.”

He goes onto say that one of the tragedies of modern life is that no one sings together anymore:

“In those days, everyone did. You’d be walking down the road and people would be singing on buildings sites, at roadworks, in garages, everywhere. When you’re singing, you’re happy. Singing changes your brain. It reduces cortisol and increases the release of endorphins and oxytocin. Some people have to take drugs to do that.”

Something as simple as singing collectively stands out as the happiest time in his life for a man who is a rock god and has performed for million and has earned millions along the way. But I believe him.
I thought it was very corny when I was a kid, and we’d be at my Grandma’s on Sunday night and Sing Along With Mitch came on television and my grandma, parents, uncles and aunts would sing along to the bouncing ball to songs like By the Light of the Silvery Moon, You Are My Sunshine and Show Me the Way to Go Home. But now as I look back on it, what a marvelous thing that was. Unlike Karaoke, where only one person is the star, everyone joined in together, and it gave us a collective culture. I learned songs that I doubt my children know. (Although my granddaughter demands that You Are My Sunshine be sung before her bedtime!)

I’ve found as I’ve traveled that singing cultures seem to know how to enjoy life more. When we went to Hawaii in the 1980s, we were made to sing all the time to songs like the Huke Lau, Don Ho’s classic Tiny Bubbles and the Hawaiian Wedding Song. In Italy, the Italians entertained us with opera and made us chime in with That’s Amore and Funiculi Funicula. In Ireland, they love to sing in the pubs and on tour buses, and a trip there is not complete if you haven’t sung along to Danny Boy, Galway Bay, or Tura Lura Lura.  

As much as I despised Mitch Miller back in the ‘60s, I realized that I learned a lot of those sing-along songs from that show. With so much division, stress and hate in the world, maybe it’s time we start singing together again. It’s good for the attitude, it’s good for your health, and it’s good for society. 

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Northern Connection magazine.