The Catharsis Rag


I used to sing a lot.

I used sing with the guitar club in highschool, with the United Church choir, with the Cellar Singers chamber choir, at coffee houses at the Garden Cafe. I sang with Frieda in university, mostly at shitty bars. We played Larry’s Hideaway once, before it burnt down. She’s a kickass blues singer (insert plug for her new band Fried Angels here, catch her in Toronto, she’s absolutely fantastic). I was her Garfunkle, briefly.

I’m not a terribly good singer. I’m a bit shy about it. I sing best when I’m alone, really. I rock the shower. And I’m a lousy guitarist.

When I ended my marriage in 1999, I went and got new strings for my guitar. I found a little sticky note I had put in my case, indicating that I last bought new strings in 1987. See, my ex-husband was an excellent musician, had played semi-professionally for many years.

My last partner – same. Also, an excellent musician.

So, I didn’t play. I was embarrassed to play in front of them, because I truly do suck. And no one ever knew any songs I liked to sing.

So I stopped. I’m not dating any more musicians. Period.

Then, for a few years, I smoked really heavily, and I physically COULDN’T sing without coughing. I sounded raspy and horrible. Not sexy, bluesy raspy, just shitty.

I’ve had songs running through my head. I’ve been going to church, and singing there.

And you know what?

I love to sing. I don’t really care if I suck. Growing up, through highschool, singing my heart out in my room got me through a lot of really bad shit.

And now, I’m single again, and I want to just sing everything that’s bottled up inside me out, to wail out all the pain and all the joy I ever felt.

It’s incredibly cathartic. Ask any five year old “can you sing?” They will invariably say “sure”. But ask an adult, and most people will say “no”.

Fuck it! Of course you can sing. You can walk, you can talk, you can sing.

If for no other reason that because Amanda Palmer says so, that’s why.

8 responses »

  1. I always thought you were an excellent singer and guitar player…some of my favourite kid memories were the times you’d let me come into your room (not many, but they happened) and let me listen to you play guitar and sing (James Taylor, S&G, Bob Dylan, Janis are some I remember…), but I hear what you’re saying. When I learned guitar in my twenties then started singing in public about 6 years or so ago (at church) people would ask why I didn’t do it more…Cathy is from a very musical family…and it was a bit like being Ringo in the Beatles…no matter how good I was, I was always the fourth best musician in the room (sometimes lower.)

    I’ve learned there’s two keys for me when I sing in public: 1) It’s got nothing to do with ego…I do it in a spirit of service to the event and 2) Pretend there’s nobody there. And one of my personal heroes, Pete Seeger (a Unitarian by the way) always said anybody can and should sing. And Pete’s usually right about everything…

  2. I’ve heard you sing. You’re a lovely singer. You have a beautiful voice. In fact, you even have a very musical speaking voice. So that settles that.

    Happy to hear you’re singing. Are you going to join a choir? (I joined one in January.)

    I can’t comment on not dating musicians any more cuz I’m married to one.

  3. Somewhere along the way we almost all stop singing. Are there fewer opportunities or are we just stuck in a been there, done that rut?

    I think I’ll start singing more. 🙂 Thanks for the reminder about how good it feels.

  4. Tim said.

    And I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anything good about dating musicians. Then again, I heard it from people who’d already broken up with them.

    Sing away Lynne!

  5. I sing constantly (drives the family and dogs cazy)
    I can actually get the glass globes in our dining room light fixture to rattle .
    a full voiced rendition of “Northwest Passage” while in the garden increases my potatoe yeild.
    you sang a rendition of “Reanna” with the guitar club at some assembly past ,I was in the audience and was very impressed , you actually sang into the mic with a bravery seldom seen from the crowd of girls in the club,you owned it . I was proud to know you and can still see the moment in my mind.
    Sing damb you Sing !
    belt it out in church ,it stregthens the faith in others and you will soon have a fan base that will expect you there to cover their timid voices .
    Bob Dylan can’t sing ,neither can Neil Young
    many love them both .

  6. AWwww…I can’t believe you even remember that!

    Let me share as well, one of my best musical memories from that time was harmonizing with you in “On the Willows” in Godspell at the United Church ( I think Cheryl was supposed to, but couldn’t wrap her head around harmony – she’s a Simon, I’m a Garfunkel…).

    Just Sing.

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