Singing Certain Songs Causes a Breakdown


Joe Giambrone

You know I keep it real, or else what’s the point?

I’ve been getting divorced, selling everything I can, and moving across the entire country to go take care of my mother, because no one else is.

In this last hurrah of a summer, alone and isolated in a house with double-paned windows and cool A/C, I’ve gone full rock and effing roll. I mean more Jim Morrison than whatever you were imagining. I’m not even sure if the guitar I traded for is potentially possessed by the Devil.

That’s a good news/bad news situation, because I can now sing at a professional level. However, certain cover songs send me into a full psychological meltdown. I’ve posted about it, but here’s some more info.

Coming off the Foo Fighters’ Everlong–just nailed fabulously on the first or second attempt, I mindlessly thought I could get back into My Hero, which had devastated me once before.

The thing about singing is: once you internalize a song then you internalize the meaning and the emotion, and then it’s a permanent part of you. Then you’re a real singer. Unfortunately, some songs are so emotionally resonant, so impactful, it’s like swallowing poison. The visceral–biological–response is that strong.

I never even met Kurt Cobain. Certainly he has less impact on my life than on Dave Grohl’s. But, once I internalized that song, I became somewhat powerless, a messenger locked into that message. Thinking I could easily blast through it, after a triumphant version of Everlong, I clicked it again.

And I couldn’t get past the first refrain.

I should mention that the documentary film Kurt & Courtney may have slightly affected me, as the movie posits the theory that Kurt was murdered for money and didn’t actually commit “suicide” at all. But, that info was not relevant to the singing of the song. The raw emotion of Grohl trying to come to grips with that event is all one needed to know. As soon as I tapped into that confusion and helplessness, I lost it again. I’m on the verge of tears right now.

I cannot ever attempt to sing My Hero in public, nor a growing list of other songs you might not expect would have that effect on someone.

Music remains one of the few art forms that just viscerally enters into the recipient and changes their lives. It’s almost magic, and I’m going to pursue it to the best of my ability. What the hell else are we living for?

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