MW / He heard my pain

12:22:00 AM

I was a college sophomore when I had my first joint with a friend who shall remain nameless. One random school day, we were just hanging out in the smokers' pocket garden near the old Communication Department Building in Ateneo, waiting for our next class. I complained of hunger, and I invited him to have lunch with me at McDonald's.

His response is something I will never, ever forget: "McDonald's? Seriously? They should be paying you to eat that garbage." I know where he was coming from on the one hand, but I was really hungry and I needed food, fast. In the end, though, we went to his house, which was about fifteen minutes away from campus, for a hearty lunch of tinolang manok and rice, plus ripe mangoes for dessert.

After eating, we went up to his room. No hanky-panky, I assure you. He was the perfect gentleman, and I was quite behaved, myself. Except for the part when I accepted the joint he handed to me. When we were both starting to feel the kick, he faced me and ordered me to sing. As I was a little bit out of my mind at that moment, I sang the first song that popped into my head.

My top-of-mind show piece
(photo from the internet)
Garota de Ipanema by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Or to the rest of the world, The Girl from Ipanema by Frank Sinatra. But I prefer singing the original Portuguese version. For starters, it sounds more impressive, haha! But seriously, the original lyrics mean so much more to me than the translation. It's not a happy song. It speaks of loneliness, but it's also tinged with hope, and I can relate to those.

Another thing I will never, ever forget was my friend's reaction after the song. He had disbelief all over his face when he said: "Damn, that was beautiful. You're a great singer. I can hear so much pain in your voice." I was tempted to conclude that he was just too high to know what he was saying. I mean, I knew I could sing, but I am not great. Heck, I don't even think I'm good.

He told me that good singers hit all the right notes at all the right times. However, a great singer is above trivialities of notes, timing, and breathing techniques. He or she does not sing from the larynx, from the diaphragm, or even from the head. A great singer sings from experience, from the heart, from the very soul, and if you listen closely enough, you will hear emotion, raw and truthful, with every syllable sung.

As a singer, I find it easier to interpret songs that I understand on a deeper, personal, bordering philosophical level. Perhaps that was what my friend heard on that day, as I sung Garota de Ipanema with a fragile sense of hope, and the pain of loneliness and regret. I experienced them all before, so I understood, and I remembered, albeit subconsciously. But it was enough to make me sing the song as though it were my own.
To see is to hear, or to hear is to see
(photo from the internet)
[Can you hear my pain? Smoke a joint then click. Haha!]

Disclaimer: For the record, I still do not consider myself a great singer. I am nowhere close to the level of Gloria Lynne, Sharon Jones, or Etta James, but it is nice that one person seems to think I could compare. He was high, but I'll indulge myself this one time and take it at face value. :)


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Hello, reader! Thank you for wasting your time reading my blog. I do hope you enjoyed whatever you stumbled upon. :)