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You Sing Like Killer Whale

Monday, December 15 2003

Last night we went to a church Christmas program and listened to various choirs sing Christmas hymns, and during one of the hymns, this one old guy in the choir caught my attention. I sat and watched him, and thought “I’m not sure I could ever describe to anyone how that man is singing.” I thought about it on the way to work, and I’m at least going to try.

The man was shaking the words of the songs out of his head. It was as if each note he was hitting had to first be pushed up and out of his body like the last bit of an Otter Pop that’s unfortunately slid to the bottom of the sheath. Once the man had squeezed the word up to the end of his neck, a fast, almost violent snap would be required to fling the word out. Like a Christmas stocking, rather than reach in for the final goodies, he’d take the stocking by the toe and flop it about, hoping something might fall out. I’m also reminded of how the great Orca killer whale flings it’s prey about for sport, but it doesn’t quite fit the analogy, although the visual fits very well.

This man’s style was so peculiar that I’ve decided that I too will sing like that from now on. There must be something to “warming” the words of the song up like he would. It’s like watching a set of waves coming in – while one might be breaking on the shore, you can see the swells that will soon become waves in the distance. I’d say his trick was to have the next four words in the hopper and well massaged ahead of time. I, however, will modify his style. I will avoid swinging my head about so violently, because I fear for anyone standing near me.