This Creative Life

Welcome to the creative work of Alan White, head writer and producer of "FEEDBACK; A HERO'S CALLING," now at Broken Sea. The "Feedback" in question is Matthew Atherton, My Hero. He and other heroes of mine have links found down the left side of these pages. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 06, 2007


So I was up pretty late last night finishing the post about "Dreamgirls" and although I said a LOT, I didn't actually say what I meant to say. (That's how I know I'm destined to be a writer).

I was trying to emphasize my love of music and found myself getting caught up in the nostalgia it brought me. Now I am remembering that I've blogged about this before (although to link to it would take some extra minutes that I don't want to use).

So, why am I nervous about restating it here in the new blog? Same reason I was nervous then, I guess. New audience. You see, I know this software engineer who's (whose?) dreams led him to become The Next Great Superhero. I have crafted a costume in my day and gone to conventions to strut my heroic stuff. Oh yes I have.
I went as Jack of Hearts one time, painting my face half-white and putting the heart over my natural skin as an innovation.

Another time I went as the Taskmaster, complete with shield. (This is odd now ... I've never told Matt that we have this costume-wearing history in common as well). As "Who Wants To Be A Superhero ...?" dawned, I was surely drawn in by my affinity for the spandex. As I work with Matt now, and the next season of the show is discussed, and I watch my fellow fans make their preparations, I am not drawn back into that world. There are fortysomething year-old superheroes, I'm sure, so I'm not deterred by my age.

No. I have a more driving dream. In my last post, I mentioned my two loves side-by-side. Comicbooks ... and music. And I mentioned Jennifer Hudson's failure turning into success. And I mentioned 'American Idol'. And so, yes, you can guess it now.

I want to sing.

So badly.

A few years ago I tried it out with a garage band in Jersey. I tanked. I was so nervous. I couldn't let go and sing. My belly was knotted and strangled my voice.

But I haven't been driven out of the trying.

So I go into NYC to a place called karaoke, which is the cheesiest of all sentences I've may ever have written, and I rent a small private room which is not as private as I'd like when there are other patrons in the next cubicle, and I sing. The first few songs I try are a mess as I reacquaint myself with my voice outside of my head. Or I wrestle with the key of a song I thought I knew. Or I realize that the woman is designed to sound different than the man, and that an alto is not a tenor or a baritone. But I press on until I find that sweet spot. Until the music shakes my hand and welcomes me back to the place we used to hang out together. Until I've made enough noise in the booth that I no longer care who's out there. And until I remember that, hey, last time I was there and sang this particular song ... I sounded good.

I want to sing.

Momma, I Want To Sing.

Music has always, always always helped me. It has always been able to change my mood when I needed it to ... and when I didn't. I remember hearing "Jimmy Mack" when I was a child, and I remember the feeling that song evoked in me. It came out in 1967, so I was only three years old but I remember feeling longing and fear that Jimmy Mack would never come back. That the singer was abandoned by Jimmy Mack, and he had to "hurry back"! I remember the feeling--and remembering a feeling is, in actuality, feeling the feeling again.

I want to sing.

Oh, I want to sing.

I want to open my whole head at the jaws and unleash all my guts like Jennifer Holliday/Hudson does when they tell you that "You ... and you ... and you ... you're gonna love me".

Father, I want to sing.

This is the one true obsession I have. I went to Missouri to be a preacher, but more than any of that, I wanted to sing in that school's choir. I never could be good enough. I have other obsessions, but this one ... oh, this one predates them all.

That's what I was thinking last night watching "Dreamgirls". That's why I thought I would cry. And I think that's also why I didn't. The movie was a triumph, not because of its story, but because of its casting. That was Jennifer Hudson, who tipped into a room one day and stood in front of Paula and Simon and Randy, and wearing a saggy dress with a strap that kept falling over one shoulder, she opened her whole head and sang. They told her, "You're going to Hollywood" and accepted her on the show.

But they had no idea.

Now watch as this Hudson chick sweeps through the awards. Who three years ago was who exactly?


I want to sing.

So. What? What about it? I want to sing. What makes now different than any other time. Yes, Jennifer Hudson. But something else.

"Every dream you've ever had is possible"

That's the difference.

I think that now, after so long, after so many stops and starts, after so many flat notes, queasy bellies, and clammy hands gripping a microphone, I think I have found the support I have always needed. I think I've found the spark that is going to fuel me through the fear and the doubt and the memories of failure. I've met a man with the strength to support me across an entire country, just by the force of his will alone.

I want to sing.

And I think I am going to.

Because you see, yesterday? When I got off work? Before I went to see "Dreamgirls"?

I bought a USB mic.

And a hero believes in me.

And I still want to sing.

So that's all right then.


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