Issue #260 / November 2023
I’m 17 years old, and I don’t know if I want to record and publish an ep that I’ve been working on with a band with some friends of mine and that I’m very proud of for what regards the instrumental part but I know that my singing could be better and that I could wait a little bit more to create something I’m 100% proud of, but still I don’t want to wait anymore because we have the chance of recording in a great studio and I don’t want to slow down the process. What should I do?
EUGENIO, ROME, ITALY
When I started as a singer I was exactly the same age as you are now, and I had no idea how to sing. I was generally regarded within my band, which was made up of school friends, as the ‘unmusical’ one. I became the singer not because of any explicit talent, but because I had the tenacity to stand up in front of people, replete with nothing but lack and swagger, and blithely step into the condemnation of those who had the misfortune to hear me. I sang and sang and sang some more, because I knew that that was what singers did. Eventually I found a voice that I could call my own, and that could mostly carry a tune. Through this I learned something valuable – a kind of defiant resilience to the messages, mostly in my own head, that told me my singing could be better. I got tough and protective of my vision and learned that the thing that ‘could be better’ was actually the ever-vital energy that propelled me forward.
If your intention is to become a singer, Eugenio, then you need to sing and sing and sing some more. Whether or not you go into the studio when you have the chance is not really up for debate. It is your duty to yourself to do so. If you do not take these opportunities to sing, you may forever be that melancholy boy peering through the window of a dream you never had the self-assurance to embody, and there is little more sorrowful in this world than one who forgoes his dreams.
Fifty years have passed since I was a boy of your age – doubting and wondering about the same things that you are now – but here I am, still singing. I am writing to you from a studio in Western New York where I am mixing my latest record, and as the new and beautiful songs wash over me I feel inspired to say to you that the privilege of having this most vulnerable of occupations – of being a singer – is immeasurable. And sitting here reflecting, I think I can say – with no small portion of pride – that my voice has gotten pretty good now, but, you know, it could still be better.
So are you a singer, Eugenio? Are you? If you are then there really is no other option – get in the studio and give it a go. We are obligated to make our best attempts to become the thing we wish to be, otherwise we forever remain the sorry consorts of our own defeat.
Sing, Eugenio, sing.