Sunday, January 28

Dear Jim,

Happy dad’s 96th birthday. He sounded good. When I called him they handed him the phone. I sang Happy Birthday. He liked it. Twice he said I have a good voice.

Other people have told me that, but I don’t sing in pitch. I tried to sing to dad in what I thought was tune, so I guess I succeeded.

Remember the singing class you took at S. F. State in the eighties? You liked it. I forget why you took it. I don’t think you joined a choir after.

I remember asking you if the teacher thought Bob Dylan was a great singer. He was diplomatic. He didn’t quite say no. He said that some singers try to sound like they are singing their hearts out for their audience.

When Bruce Springsteen’s mom heard Dylan sing, she said ”He can’t sing.” Springsteen said he sure as hell can.

A friend of mine took music lessons as a kid and got pretty good on the piano. His dad was a professional jazz player. But my friend doesn’t like Dylan.

When I took a singing class at Sac City College, most of the students were already good singers. They should not have been in a beginner’s class. One gal who I liked and who sang in her church choir didn’t think Dylan could sing. Classroom trained musicians and musicians who learn at church don’t appreciate Dylan.

Remember we saw him in 1974? He was okay. The Band was great.

I don’t know if I ever told the family, but I tried to learn how to sing in pitch. The first time, the teacher looked at me after we went through the scales. He said, ”I can’t help you. You do not have pitch.” I said, ”But that’s why I called you. So I could learn to sing in key.” He said ”I’m sorry.”

The second time a woman helped me, but I cannot remember why I stopped. It was only a few lessons.

The third time I went several months to a teacher. She helped me a lot, but the progress was slow and I frustrated the hell out of her. She dropped me.

Then I said, what the heck, I’ll try out for the community choir. I liked the way the leader conducted. But when he played the scales, I still couldn’t sing in pitch.

I remember the time you came to my apartment on 22nd Street. My guitar player friend was there and we played. He was a classically trained flute player who gave it up because he could not overcome a block that kept him from advancing to the next level of professionalism.

He told me that when he listens to the radio, he hears singers who go off key. I never asked him about Dylan, but he told me that when his mom was 65 and she saw John Lee Hooker, she said it was the most incredible performance she ever saw.

You know my real short lady friend? The woman who came to mom’s and dad’s with that great girlfriend I had when I graduated from college? She can really sing, but never pursued it. She didn’t even join her church choir. The only times she sings is when she is by herself or we’re driving and she sings a few lines for fun. She can’t remember the lyrics to an entire song.

Not being able to sing has been one of my biggest disappointments. I should use computer software to learn how, then I could join a choir and have a ball. I’d get revenge on the grade school teacher who laughed at me in front of the class telling me I couldn’t sing.

Those fucking cunt nuns.

Mom loved to sing. She loved her nuns. When mom died I printed out the lyrics to Red River Valley. I sang it for a couple of days and pictured her sadness. Now I have it in my Mom folder. I saw it the other day.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko