If I Could Sing, I’d Be a Really Great Vocalist

I really like singing.  Actually, it’s kind of a problem.

Is there such a thing as Musical Tourette Syndrome?   I think I might have it.

I sing really bad songs.  Catastrophically bad songs.  At the worst times.  Without realizing it.   I’ll be on a crowded elevator and I’ll realize somewhere around the 20th floor that I’ve been singing, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” by The Captain and Tenille since the lobby.  I’m up to the line, “You (you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh) You belong to me now…” and I’ll realize what I’m doing and kind of let it peter out.

Or I’ll be at a funeral, my mind wandering, and I’ll call out,  “Heeey, Macarena,” realize people are looking at me, and mumble my way into prayerful reverie.  “Macarena sh’vua yud…”

I had an acute episode some years ago while  driving my teenage daughter and her best friend to a concert at their school.   This is already a mildly embarrassing experience for my daughter, as teenagers are not supposed to even have parents.   Suddenly, out of nowhere,  there is this hysterical laughter from the back seat.  And when I ask, “What’s so funny?” they are laughing even more hysterically.  And then I think back and realize I’ve just crooned the following lines  from Jesus Christ, Superstar:

He’s a man…
He’s just a man…
And I’ve haaaaad so many men before, in very many waaaaaays…
He’s just one more

“It’s just the words to the song,” I protest.  “It’s not, like, autobiographical.” But this just precipitates a brand-new explosion.

Come to think of it, I have a question:

What does that song mean, exactly?  I get the part that goes, “And I’ve had so many men before”.  But what about the next part: “In very many ways”?   How many ways are there?  I’m counting two, maybe three ways tops.   Very many?   That’s gotta be more than just “many”.  “Many” might be say twenty ways.  So “very many” would be like a hundred, right?   Holy crap, my life has been boring.  Dear Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, can you please clarify exactly how many ways you’re referring to, and what precisely they are?

Anyway….back to my “condition”.   You’re probably thinking it’s some kind of joke.  Well it happens to be extremely serious, I’ll have you know!   You try going to the supermarket and singing to the check-out lady,  apropos of nothing, “Let me hear your body talk.”

By the way, if you don’t recognize this famous line of poetry, with its simple, Haiku-like beauty, it comes, of course, from Olivia Fig Newton-John’s, “Physical”:

Let’s get physical, physical
I want to get physical
Let’s get into physical
Let me hear your body talk, your body talk
Let me hear your body talk

Is it just me?  I don’t really want to hear anyone’s body talk.  It’s definitely not, like, a major turn-on.  Is this one of the “very many ways”?

How do you know if you too suffer from Tourettes Musica?   Have you had a conversation like this one that I recently had with Mrs. Rotting Post?

Mrs. Post:  Will You Please Stop That Horrible Singing???

Me:              Singing?  Was I singing?

Mrs. Post:   Yes!  You were singing, “Who Let the Dogs Out!”

Me:              I really don’t think so.

Mrs. Post:    Yes you were!  I can’t take it!

Me:              I think you misheard.  I was just clearing my throat.  It sounded a lot like, “Who Let the Dogs Out.”

Mrs. Post:    You weren’t clearing your throat.

Me:              (Throat-clearing, barking, coughing sounds)     There.  I’m fine now.

Mrs. Post:     Oh my God!  Just shoot me now.

Me:               Yes, dear.

If so, you could be a fellow sufferer.  Sadly, as of now, there is no known cure.  But there is hope.  Research is helping identify the precise genetic mutation that causes one to warble during your colonoscopy Madonna’s iconic ballad:

Like a virgin
Touched for the very first time

Send your tax-deductible donation to:

Will You Please Shut The Hell Up?
17 Dancing Queen Terrace
MacArthur Park, CA 31035


Hope everyone had a great holiday!



    • Evidently I have a similar, perhaps minor variant of the same Tourette’s musica. My family tells me that often I whistle. One non- musically talented person in my family (whose identity I will protect if she is otherwise nice to me) claims that my whistling is tuneless. When I listen, it is not tuneless at all, but corresponds to a song that is on my mind for good reason at that moment

      However, I have left instructions that should I ever be caught whistling “The Little Drummer Boy”, they should throw a cup of cold water at me. Just the water part, not the cup, of course. I indicated a cup to show that I meant a small quantity.

      We’re at that time of year now when I suddenly have to leave shopping areas when the first rum tum tum reaches my ears. A month of selective agoraphobia is the price I pay for this affliction.

      • interestingly, even extremely tuneful whistling can be highly unnerving to the non-whistlers among us. mine is rather un-tuneful, unless the tune is a kind of droning, atonal funeral march. i have whistlers in my family one is fixated on a particular melody from beethoven’s 8th symphony (no, not one of the biggies). best of luck with your “condition” 🙂

      • Pity me, because it is worse still: Jennifer Juniper. Perseveration is so much more shame-inducing when it includes faux Francaise, wouldn’t you agree?

        • I did not know that song until i just played it on youtube. Ouch!!!! In terms of awfulness, that song is right up there! And very underrated. Thanks for sharing. I think :). As to perseverating in French, i am sure i have sung that awful, ‘voulez-vous couchez avec moi, ce soir’.

  1. Dear Mr. Post: I have also been doing research on this issue.

    So far, my findings indicate that this tendency of yours should not be classed as a problem; you are simply hanging out with the wrong people i.e. people who do not appreciate your talent.

    As I have never met Mrs Post, I feel reluctant to criticise her, but in light of her unkind response to your efforts, I have no option and I wonder if she deserves you. Why didn’t she join in with a chorus of “Who, who, who, who?” while dancing around you in wild abandon? That’s what I would do, were I fortunate enough to have you as my Mr. Post. (Oh, be still, my beating heart!)

    My research is geared towards identifying individuals, who, in commonplace surroundings such as those you mention, will drop the (possibly) feigned insouciance or pique that they direct at us good souls whose mission it is to inject some much needed levity into the monotony of their quotidian existence.

    Now that you and your readers are aware that no problem exists, the need for donations to assist in identifying the non-existent genetic mutation is obviated. Perhaps donations could be sent instead to my Research Centre in Ireland? I am not certain whether your Uncle Sam allows tax-free status for overseas donations, but in case he does not, I can offer the much more valuable incentive of 100,000 Welcomes (Céad Míle Fáilte as we say in Irish!) PLUS unlimited access to the extensive library of “Really Bad Songs” which I have personally curated and are guaranteed to turn the harshest critics of the genre into enthusiastic participants.

    Donations (cash only, please) can be sent to:

    Glocca Morra Research Centre
    40 Shades of Green Enterprises
    40 Limerick Alley
    Co Limerick

    Donors who enclose a limerick will be entitled to 200,000 Welcomes and those whose limericks are of a ‘naughty’ bent, will be entitled to 500,000 Welcomes!
    N.B. The judge’s decision as to what qualifies as ‘naughty’ is final.

    • yikes your comment is priceless! Even the much criticized mrs. post (and, between you and me, rightfully so!) laughed aloud. but…are you saying my gastroenterologist also does not appreciate my talent? rest assured, your research center will be receiving my ‘standard’ donation!

    • I’ve actually had that affliction as well! I have been known – in younger years – to make the black-capped chickadee call when sighting a potentially interesting rustling of leaves.

  2. I too sing from the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar (doesn’t everybody?). But I always thought that the line you refer to is actually as follows:
    “He’s a man…
    He’s just a man…
    And I’ve haaaaad so many men before, in very many weighs…
    He’s just one more”
    Apparently, Mary had adopted a Gnostic/Zoroastrian cultic practice of WEIGHING each man she (Biblically) knew. Commentators have gone different directions in understanding this text. Does it mean she weighed him many times, and each time he weighed the SAME? (And thus, in many weighs, He was just “one more”?) Or perhaps His weight fluctuated (like the weight of so many of us fluctuates) and, world weary, she resigns herself to the fact that after many different weighs – perhaps even DESPITE different weighs – He is, in the end, just one more.
    Perhaps, as one commentator notes, in the darkness and moral confusion, she had lost her weigh…

    • Glad you got some smiles. sorry for the ear-worms though. and no, i never was inclined toward, “Feelings”. Not even, “Mandy”. “Y-M-C-A” on the other hand…Mrs. has heard both the original version and my “cover”. she prefers the original.

  3. I tend to scat (in all possible senses of the word) Charlie Parker’s bebop head “Scrapple From the Apple” at random and rarely appropriate times. “Ba-doot-n-dot-n-deet-n-doo-dah” goes over particularly well in software design reviews.

  4. My ailment always seems to come out when I’m listening to music with headphones in public. Usually takes me a while to realize that everyone can hear me.

  5. I have a similar problem to Mrs Post’s. My husband’s immediate response to hearing any odd noise is to mimic it. This includes mimicking his own phone’s message tones (every. single. time.), noises from television commercials, car dinging for the door or keys…really any sound at all. Sometimes, I just want to punch him in the vocal cords. But he does the sounds in such an un-self-conscious, happy-go-lucky way that I just roll my eyes, heave a sigh, and get on with it.

  6. Reblogged this on biblebeltsite and commented:
    I would say -“Been there,done that” ,but that would be too simple .I know you know the answers to all your questions,but I wonder if a musician,like myself,should answer all of them for the benefit of the public.I think everybody hears pop songs(elevator music) in their heads .I am worse,because the library of songs is enormous.So,if someone speaks a lyric accidentally in their day to day speech ,I actually start singing the song associated with the words I just heard.It’s really annoying.

  7. I believe I already commented,but I love these comments.It’s wonderful that we all have pop music tying us together. If people object to those that sing,then their lives need more entertainment.

    • it is so true that it is a common currency we all share. I did a previous post (probably before you started following) about the clunkiest rhymes in rock and history, that received, i think, over 100 comments – everyone chiming in with their suggestions. i think we’re losing it though in the era of earbuds and genre fragmentation – everyone is listening to something different.

      • I realize that different cultural backgrounds have created different song lists,but that is what makes it exciting when we meet someone new.For me,each person is a new catalogue of songs.I am a composer,but in school I worked in the music library to pay my tuition.That was where I learned so many songs,and so many international students were joyous fun.Japan ,South Africa ,and Brazil added to my protestant American background.One summer ,I studied in England and almost stayed there ,because the theater community loved me as much as I loved them.We are each of us -a song list.

        • Agreed. To clarify, when i say we have lost our musical common currency – it is both a loss and a gain. it used to be that the radio stations provided a filtering mechanism and everyone listened to what they validated and played – similar to mainstream publishing deciding what everyone will read, and 3 television networks deciding what everyone would see. there is many more subcultures now and ways to explore alternatives to what the larger media outlets produce – which is definitely good. but there is something also nice about the shared experience. btw, i love music, rock and classical especially, and play piano a bit, but could not write it if my life depended on it – so…you have my admiration :).

          • I miss the simplicity .It was easier to feel worthy as a musician ,and make real money.Now,with internet purchasing ,there is no security.I believe that we are still searching for a path to build a cohesive audience that pays for our product.However, that is not the only thing that matters to us.Remember the realization that comes to Mozart in Amadeus ,as he hears the poor singing the song from Don Giovanni .He knows that his work is reaching out beyond the wealth of the king and into the hearts of the people.In America,we once had radios playing Jazz tunes ,or Great American Songbook pieces ,and so creative people would have that same reaction when they got airplay.Now,that’s gone.We don’t know anymore.Maybe,if we’re lucky enough to play concert tours.But,that’s a small group of people that played a cruel game in a boardroom ,nowadays.I think the film industry is our last bastion of hope for maintaining an audience that is universal .We are all small town musicians ,like the pied piper.Let’s hope we don’t start playing his game.We need recognition -that’s all I’m saying.

          • from a business perspective, technology has clearly destroyed intellectual property rights. on top of that, as a writer, i realize fewer and fewer people read novels. it’s just the reality of having music and video at one’s fingertips, not to mention social medai, etc. it’s a complicated topic, because another part of me thinks, what a sign of privilege to expect to do something creative, to have an audience for it, to want compensation for it – and yet, of course, i am guilty.

Leave a Comment/Reply