Yes, I was giddy. I knew the radio would be on as soon as I started the car, and I couldn’t wait for Daughter to hear what was on.
Granted, it wasn’t radio per se, it was a podcast, but I knew my phone would connect to the car stereo first so I started the engine and pulled out of the parking spot, my right eye on Daughter so I could see the look on her face when she heard my voice.
It went from delight to disappointment to concealed disappointment to fake cheeriness to neutral to serious as she listened to me talk about my book.
“Well…?” I said.
“You know,” Daughter began, “you know how your voice always sounds a little off on a recording?”
“You mean mine or everyone’s?”
“Everyone’s. Mine, too”
“Yeah. Do you know why?”
“Well, good. Me, too.”
I, too knew that you hear the sound waves differently depending on whether they travel to your ear through the bones in your head – your skull – or through the air like when we hear other sounds.
I found it out the hard way. I recorded myself singing.
The idea came to me innocently enough as I was riding my bike home from school, my walkman on my belt, and me belting out “Heaven” by Bryan Adams. Going downhill by the river, under the bridge, I though I sounded good. Great, even. Better than I had ever sounded. I knew I had always been an average singer, at best, but maybe that had changed since I reached puberty? Maybe my new manly voice worked better, or maybe I simply was more of a a rocker?
Only one way to find out.
Perform? In front of people?
Fine, two ways to find out.
My way was to pedal back home as fast as I could so that I could do my recording before mom and dad got home. I wanted to have the song play in the background so that I wouldn’t have to sing it unaccompanied. Whatever hopes I had for my voice, my optimism had its limits.
The challenge was to find a way to have the song playing in the background, guiding me, without Bryan Adams taking over, and still be able to record the whole thing. In the end, I put an empty tape into my boombox, my Bryan Adams tape in my walkman, put the headphones close to the boombox mic, played the song at full blast and then sang on top of it, the volume of my voice also set to full blast.
And baby, you’re all that I want…
There I stood, pumping my fists, and when the song faded out I stopped the recording, rewound the tape and then, with great anticipation, I pressed Play.
First there’s the keyboard intro, and then the first line.
The Tape Me was halfway through it, when I pressed Stop. I sounded horrible.
But hey, it was the first take. Even I didn’t expect me to nail it on the first take. Surely not even Bryan Adams himself used his first take of “Heaven” on the album.
I rewound the Bryan Adams take in my walkman back to the beginning of “Heaven”, pressed Rec and Play on the boom box – and took a deep breath.
And love is all that I need…
Not better. Worse.
I ejected the cassette from the boombox and then pulled the magnetic tape out of the cassette. Then I buried the tape on the bottom of my waste basket and threw magazines and other junk on top. Nobody was ever going to find it.
“Can I use the stereo?” Daughter asked when we got to the highway.
“Sure. Yeah, we don’t have to listen to me go on and on,” I replied.
“It was interesting, though.”
Then she fiddled with her phone and a few seconds later, I heard the keyboard intro to “Heaven” by Bryan Adams. Then the guitar, and then…
Oh, thinkin’ about all our younger years…
We drove up the highway singing along the song and even though I, once again, thought I sounded just like Bryan Adams, I stopped singing halfway through the song. Instead, I just listened to Daughter’s duet with Bryan.
It was the sweetest version of “Heaven” I have ever heard.