Lyrical Deficiency

By Anna Murph

My big break was a six-minute shoddy excuse for stardom in the sixth grade. 

I was chosen last-minute by my choir teacher to whom I had been brown-nosing for years to sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” for our Spring showcase because first-chosen Steven Bostick’s stomach ulcer was having a flare-up. I was honored, then nervous, then scared shitless. Not due to the fact that I could not carry a tune if my life depended on it and I was practically tone deaf (my sister’s words, not mine), but my unwavering inability to get even the chorus of a popular song right. I detest formalities and I assumed a mindset at a young age that correct lyrics were merely a suggestion. The good news is I have autonomy and, no pun intended, my voice is mine. This is the very reason I justify going on a stage and taking a confident bow after I mumble through half a song and sing the other half in Simmish, which is exactly the route I took when unintentionally doing Marvin Gaye a great disservice in the sixth grade. In today’s self-help and self-improvement era that prompts growth through the years, I wish I could say that I woke up one day and decided not to loudly belt the wrong lyrics in the car, but alas, I would be lying. I have carried that same zest well into my twenties, Google searching “karaoke bars near me” in every new place I go and delivering absolutely brutal renditions of my favorite songs– many of which I could not tell you 70% of the correct lyrics, and that’s being generous. Now, I could accept this and make an effort to do better, or I could pontificate a complex theoretical analysis on how my personal “ick” is a metaphor for how I live my life. I’m choosing the latter. 

I’ve never been much of a plan-maker. A rigid schedule and plan makes me feel like someone has Saran wrapped my head and feel limited, preventing me from living my life the way I want to. Sticking to the script has never been my thing, and glamorizing this incompetency by saying “I live my life a quarter mile at a time” paints a shimmery idea of what it’s like to live in my chaotic brain. Now, when I am in performance/mumble mode while singing, I look around and see people not so aghast that I make the moves up as I go. I see laughter and joy and camaraderie, and I’m not feeling too upset myself. I grew out of my people-pleaser phase a long time ago and adopted a mentality that prioritized authenticity, so when you hear me mimicking instrument sounds and singing the wrong words, just know I’m doing my best. After all, this is my first time on Earth.