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The Last Windrow: An inability to sing

Why is it that I can hear the correct notes of a musical composition, but I can’t sing a note on key? 

I’ve been brought to my knees by my inability to sing. I’d love to sing like a bird, much as my daughter can do. She’s been able to sing on note from the cradle. I have not sung a correct note ever. Not that I haven’t tried. 

I blame my tone deafness to an early hearing disability. One of the theories is that my hearing disability might have been caused by a case of red measles when I was an infant. Another theory rests with the result of my tumbling off a livestock fence and landing my nose squarely on a tire jack. 

The resulting injury not only put a split my nose, but the fall also put a crink in my neck that later proved to be pressing on a nerve that had something to do with my hearing. I am a case that chiropractors use to show that their work can indeed improve hearing by straightening out a neck. I am a proven test case for the profession.  

Either way, my ability to sing was greatly jeopardized early on. My country school teacher began my descent into vocal obscurity by instructing me to only mouth the words of the National Anthem when my class sang its rendition to the group of assembled parents and relatives during one of our country school plays. She knew I couldn’t carry a note and she wasn’t bashful about telling me that. I’m still scarred. 

I did gain some confidence when I auditioned for my high school choir. Mrs. McClarnan had me sing the scale one sunny afternoon, all alone in her music room. She told me that I had great range and that I “should” be able to sing in the choir. Only after placing me in the middle of the group during our first practice did she find that my voice had notes in it that weren’t on any page of music. 

She was much kinder than my country school teacher when she suggested that I take a shop course instead of choir. I have a neat looking coffee table as a result.

My tone deafness didn’t make much difference when I belted out a song as I was traveling across fields on my way to plow a 20-acre piece of land out of the range of human hearing. To me, my voice seemed rather in tune with the exhaust that came from the Model WD Allis Chalmers. 

I crooned “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “The Big Rock Candy Mountain” and “Clementine.” No doubt the meadowlarks of the field headed for the nearest shelter belt as I passed by, but I sounded good to me. 

You might see me singing my way to work somedays. I feel comforted during the winter months when my pickup windows are up and I can belt out whatever tune I’m hearing on the radio to no one’s discomfort. Somehow the disconnect between my voice and my ears is dimmed and evidently my brain can discern neither because within my cranium I sound good. 

Those who can actually sing and make a melody worth hearing should thank their lucky stars. I would give anything to be able to make a sound that didn’t rattle the tea kettle, but I can’t. I’ve learned to be a good listener and be happy with that. 

Our black Lab has heard my lilt and still trots by my side as I return from the woods singing. She has ears that flap over her ear drums and must deaden the sound of my vocal chords. God does take care of his creatures. 

See you next time. Okay?