Confessing a Weakness

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I love music. My earliest memory is of me standing in the middle of the bench seat of the family station wagon singing the chorus to Don McLean’s “American Pie” at age two. I started piano when I was 7, drums when I was 8, had a failed experiment as a saxophonist in sixth grade, spend a month trying to teach myself electric bass, and owned a guitar in the hopes that I would eventually learn to play it (I didn’t). I’ve done (and won awards for) musical theater. I would practice a song for months before singing it at karaoke, back when I was able to do karaoke in a bar that wasn’t filled with smoke. Music is in my blood and always has been.

These days my musical expression has been limited to the two radio shows that I do each week. I’m in complete control of one show’s playlist, and have creative consultation rights to the other show, which is in actuality programmed by my wife. I haven’t been behind a drum kit since I was in my 20s, I haven’t seriously played piano in well over 30 years, and I can’t remember the last time I sung anything, even to myself at home, alone.

So along comes something like this video (sorry, folks, I’m too cheap to pay for the subscription that would allow me to embed video) that absolutely blows me away.

Choir! Choir! Choir! is a community choir in Toronto, and when they do a production, they do it big. They gathered over 500 people to sing “Space Oddity” to mark the death of David Bowie, and pulled in over 2,000 singers for a performance of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” in three-part harmony.

The video that I linked is of Choir! Choir! Choir!’s performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Fifteen hundred people gathered together and were led by Rufus Wainwright (the performer that did what is likely the best known rendition of the song, from the Shrek motion picture soundtrack) in a hauntingly beautiful rendition of what is already a hauntingly beautiful song.

And therein lies my weakness.

I read what the video was all about beforehand and had already started crying just thinking about how beautiful this video must be before I ever hit play. It starts out with the choir gathering at the Hearn Generating Station in Toronto, an introduction to the newcomers participating with C! C! C! for the first time, and then Rufus Wainwright took the stage and the single accompaniment of an acoustic guitar began the song. Rufus began the song, as I’m so accustomed to hearing him sing, but soon the choir joined in, and the beauty and power of 1,500 people singing this supremely gorgeous song just overwhelmed me. I was sobbing while listening, barely able to see the video through my tears.

And it’s not just music.

Sad tale of a dog or cat that has a happy ending? Tears. The story of someone that overcomes significant obstacles to reach a long-standing goal? Tears. The underdog wins the ball game? Tears.

I’m very prone to crying. I know I should be more in control of myself, but sometimes I just can’t help it. I wish I knew how to turn it off sometimes, because it can happen at the worst possible moment (for instance, I was in a bardic competition in the SCA a few years back and started crying uncontrollably while performing a song I wrote).

I suppose the alternative is to just stop feeling emotion at anything, and that’s really not an option. I just wish I had a better poker face when I’m overcome with emotion.

So anyway, there’s my confession, but really, the thing you should take away from this blog post is that video I linked. Take the time to watch it for yourself. It is really, really beautiful.

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