Singers

Decided to see if I could find a female vocalist to do some gigs with. Cello by itself isn’t a very fulfilling concert experience, but cello with a woman who sings and plays acoustic guitar — my, my, that could be sweet!

The thing I remember from 30 years ago, when I was still trying to put together a band, is that there are a lot of young women out there who would like to think of themselves as singers, but for whom the process of learning a two-hour set and then getting up onstage and performing it is still a mystery.

And that’s putting it kindly.

First response to my ad on craigslist was from a young lady (name withheld to protect the innocent) whose MySpace page features four of her songs. One is reasonably well produced, the other three are rather muddy demos. But that’s okay — you can tell how someone sings by listening to a muddy demo.

First clue: No indication, on either the MySpace page or her own website, that she has ever performed or played an instrument.

Second clue: She’s singing in English, but you can barely understand a word of the lyrics. This usually indicates that the songwriter has no idea how to write (or deliver) effective lyrics. There are two kinds of pop singers and two kinds of pop lyricists. The first kind are the mumblers. They have nothing to say, but they’re being deliberately cryptic about it in a feeble attempt to suck you in. The other kind, you can understand every word, because the words mean something.

Okay, I’ll make an exception for Bjork. She’s hard to understand, but even so, she’s amazing. Her unsettling delivery gets under your skin.

In general, though, mumblers don’t interest me. If you’re going to stand on a stage for two hours and captivate an audience, you’re going to need all the tools that you can muster, including poetry.

What do you want to bet the same observation will apply to four of the next five respondents to the ad?

Footnote: I was being optimistic. No other vocalists responded to the ad.

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