Tomorrow I will head to the recording studio for my first session for my second album.
There is a fabulous bunch of session musicians lined up to play tomorrow. It is an unbelievable kick to hear tunes I've written performed by truly talented musicians -- the songs become something else entirely, so much better than I could have imagined. And these are guys who could make "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star" sound great.
The only problem is that I am the vocalist. And I am going to suck.
"But no!" you say. "You have such a lovely voice!" And how could you say anything else, really, when I am so obviously fishing for compliments?
Except that I'm not. I am pretty clear-eyed about my abilities as a vocalist. My voice is nothing spectacular. It's just fine, certainly adequate for the material at hand. And the advantage of performing my own work is that I can be pretty sure that the singer will understand all the jokes.
When I say "I am going to suck," I mean "I" in the sense of anyone who takes the trouble to record herself. I may rock the shower; but when I hear myself on tape, I hear every little break, every time I'm just a tad sharp or (more frequently) a bit flat. It is, to say the least, a humbling experience.
My younger daughter has spent the last two weeks listening to herself suck as she prepares clarinet auditions for some competitive summer music programs.
Now, let me say right now that from my perspective, she sounds wonderful: she has a great tone and a real sense of musicality, and I can’t believe the sounds she gets from that black chunk of wood. I’m putting my money where my mouth is on this one by featuring her on a song or two on this album. To my ears, she sounds absolutely great.
But just ask her. She sucks. She listens to her recordings and can only hear how the tempo is a smidge uneven, or the subito piano part isn’t quite as subito or as piano as she intended. I listen and I hear Mozart, played pretty darned well by a 15-year-old.
And so tomorrow, I'm going to spend the day in the studio with a bunch of people who really do not suck at all. By any standard, subjective or objective, I will be the least musically competent person in the room, by a wide margin. Pretty intimidating.
It's an unbelievable privilege. I can't wait.