Episode 37 – My First Performance in Years
In this episode I get uncomfortably transparent about myself and my voice.
This is NOT the episode I had planned, it just sort of came out.
What the heck, I can always take it down!
Flexibility and going with the flow are definite advantages as far as our singing is concerned.
We often can’t control the state of our voice, however, we can still love and enjoy singing.
I really had to utilize these Inner Singer principles this Holiday season and for the last many years.
It was hard, however, the payoff was very nice.
I don’t get to show off right now…I really can’t. For me, it has to be about the absolute love of singing without attachment to the result.
This is NOT easy…Though it is very necessary for me.
I hope you get a lot out of this episode as it was my most challenging so far. It has to get easier after this one. (-:
The Inner Singer Podcast
Episode 37 – Transcripts
My First Performance in Years
Well, hey there, everyone. This is Mike Goodrich. Welcome to The Inner Singer Podcast. Thank you so much for being here with me. I’m just turning up a little bit of the record volume. It seem to be a little soft.
Well, happy New Year! I don’t know when you’re listening to this, but happy New Year anyway. It is now 2016.
I’m not afraid to say that quite frankly because a lot of people, when they put out information, they’re afraid for you to know the date because they want things to be timely. Well, as far as I know, these things that I’m speaking about are pretty timely no matter what time it is, no matter what century it is, no matter what decade it is, no matter what month or year it is and no matter when I’m saying, “Happy New Year!” We are all dealing with these inner things that we call the inner singer when we apply it to singing.
So, happy New Year, 2016! Let’s jump in and have some fun.
First, I’m going to tell you a little bit of a story, something that just happened a few minutes ago. I share it with you because it’s kind of typical and finally, I recognized it. It’s been a typical reaction of mine I think for probably as long as I can remember.
First of all, I’ll make this quick, but I’ll outline the situation for you here.
So, anyway, what my wife and I thought—and we’ve been thinking this for months—what we thought was going to happen was as follows. We thought we were going to leave on Sunday, about one, get to Lego Land about three o’clock or so. And then, what we would do is we’d check in to the hotel and all the kids would just have—we’ve got pirate themes. We’re going to have a lot of fun, just goof around, eat at the Lego Land Hotel. And then, get up Monday morning and go to Lego Land.
Well, it looks like it’s going to be raining Monday at Lego Land. It is a 90% chance. They don’t give you your money back. They can close the park at any time when it rains. So, I’m trying to reach somebody at Lego Land and try and figure all these out.
I text my wife and she says, “Don’t bother. I have new information.” So she gets home and she says, “Okay, I found out the other family…”—who were our friends (I’ll leave their names out of this I guess), “they’re leaving at nine or ten in the morning, and they plan on going to Lego Land all day tomorrow, then check in to the Lego Land Hotel. And then, get up and go to Lego Land on Monday.” My wife says, “How could have we not known that? That’s pretty crazy. Why didn’t they tell us that?”
And so now I’m starting to go down the path that I ordinarily go down when things change. There’s an old Saturday Night Live skit with a guy named Al Franklin and he basically used to say, “And how does this affect me, Al Franklin?” So, I go immediately to, “Okay, how does this negatively impact me, Mike Goodrich?” because now, all of a sudden, something is different. I didn’t know about this. I could’ve known about it. Now, I know about it.
So, all the things I thought I had a real laid back day today and a real laid back day tomorrow, we’re going to have a leisurely drive there and check-in, ooh, now I find out that there’s this big sense of urgency, I get all these things done today, I got to get up really early, I’ve got to get going and I’ve got to be at Lego Land, and now I feel like I’m on a time schedule. Okay, this is no good. So this is all the wiring that’s going on.
So, I’m immediately getting frustrated and angry, right? I say to my wife, “How can we not have known? This is ridiculous!”
But then I see myself doing this. She says, “Well, you know, the forecast for rain is not until Monday. It’s not going to rain tomorrow. So we would actually have a day at Lego Land without raining. And if it rains on Monday, we can just go to the Aquarium or something.”
I’m still kind of hanging onto my story. “How could they not tell us?” and I’m thinking, “Oh, we’re on their agenda.” I’m seeing myself do this. And inwardly, I’m thinking, “Wait a minute! This can really be cool.” And yet I’m still outwardly not letting go of my story. I’m still kind of fighting for, “Yeah, yeah. But we didn’t know. We should’ve known and all these.” And inside, I’m feeling, “Yeah, but this is going to be great. Theo is going to have more time at Lego Land. It’s not going to rain tomorrow. This could be really fun. I don’t mind getting up early. That’s not a big deal. I wish I’ve known, but who cares? Actually, this could really work out well.”
And all of a sudden, as I started noticing my wiring being just immediately going to, “How is this going to negatively affect me? This can’t possibly be good,” the idea that this could benefit me and my famiy actually never even entered my mind until there was a little bit of space created and my wife said, “Well, this actually could be really good.” I actually happily let that in and started looking at it and I thought, “Wow, yeah!” I said, “Let’s go tell Theo.” So I said, “Theo, here’s what’s going on tomorrow.” We said, “You know how we thought we were going to do this, that and the other thing?” He’s like, “Yeah…” And I could tell he’s getting a little nervous like we were going to say we’re not going or something. I said, “Well, we’re actually getting up early. We’re going to spend all day tomorrow at Lego Land, then check in to the Lego Land Hotel, have dinner, move around with our friends and then get up the next and go to Lego Land again. And if it’s raining, we get to go to the aquarium.” And he says, “This is going to be awesome!”
And so, I don’t know why I felt compelled to share that with you. I think it’s because I think anything can be applied to our careers. Anything can be applied to singing and performing and our voices.
Now, I have not given any thought whatsoever to how this might apply. No, actually, that’s probably a little bit untrue. As I was plugging in the microphone, I was thinking, “How in the world does this apply to singing?” And I did actually think of a couple of things. I just didn’t spend much time knowing it. I just plugged in the mic and said, “Go!”
But years and years ago, after I performed in Sunday in the Park with George—and I played George which was really a great role, although it was kind of intimidating. We’ve talked about that in past podcast. But anyway, the same company that did Sunday in the Park was doing the West Coast premiere of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Now, we were supposed to have the West Coast premiere of Sunday in the Park with George. But somebody snuck in under the wire and beat us. So now, this was going to be the West Coast premiere of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. And I had a certain part that I wanted to do, to play.
I wasn’t right for it. There was another guy that was much better. He had much better voice for it. He was much more everything. He looked more the part—everything, he was perfect.
So, I auditioned for that part anyway, and they offered me the part of Neville which was a good role, it’s a good part, and a West Coast premiere of a major show that was just down in Broadway. I turned it down. It probably has something to do with the wiring that I just noticed when I was told something that went against something that I thought was going to happen.
So, I wanted Jasper and they said, “You know what? We want to give you Neville. This is why I give you the part. We want you to do it. You don’t even have to audition. Here, we’ll give you Neville.” I’m like, “Hmmm… I don’t know. I really want to do Jasper.”
So, instead of looking at the big picture like, “Wow! How could this really positively affect my career?” I just looked at, “Nah, I want to do Jasper. I’m not going to do this show.”
So, I’m not saying that with any regret. It’s more of an observation like, “Whoa! Okay…” That was a time when I was completely unaware of this pattern. Had I been aware of it, I might’ve questioned that and thought, “You know what? What can I do here? Might this benefit me? Might this be good?”
And mind you, everything I’m saying right now sound very selfish. I know it does. “Well, would this benefit me? Will getting up early and going to Lego Land another day benefit me? Or doing Neville instead of Jasper benefit me?” Too many, that would probably sound really, really selfish. And in fact, in some instances, it’s probably very selfish. But dear friends of mine that used to be wonderful mentors in m life, they used to say, “You really need to practice enlightened self-interest.” And that’s not selfishness, it’s enlightened self-interest.
Now, granted, my wiring is totally selfish. My wiring, the wiring, the programming, the negativity, it’s completely selfish. It only cares about its own survival. It only cares about itself. It does not care about anything else? “How can this benefit me?” is what it cares about.
Creating a little space between the wiring and you—or the wiring and me in this case—does allow for the realization that, “Well, wait a minute now! What if I’m not selfish and in this behavior, but what if I’m aware of this behavior and I begin to practice enlightened self-interest?” not in it saying, “How does this benefit me? This is bad. This isn’t going to be good. This doesn’t benefit me in a good way,” but creating some space between that belief system, that wiring, that programming and saying, “Okay, take a step back. I don’t know. Let’s see… could this be better? Could this actually work out better?”
And I didn’t have the skills to do that back then. I barely have them today. But I had some help which is nice. And that’s why I suggest, if you can, get on the buddy system, somebody who’s really onboard with you on this that could help you, that could help point you in a direction or wake you up gently when you’re in a pattern or in one of your stories. We all tell stories. I tell them all the time. Just like I said, I just shared one with you.
But the cool thing about it is, now, I get to see the pattern operate. I get to see myself telling the story. So now, the next time I order something in a restaurant and they say, “Oh, I’m sorry. We’re all out of that,” maybe I’ll be able to be in a place where I can create enough space to or allow for enough space to say, “Oh! Well, okay. Well, cool! Give me a second. Let me see what else feels right” versus kind of going to the usual dog-and-pony show I go into which is like, “Oh, I really had my mind set for that. Oh, I can’t believe it. How do restaurants run out of food?”
These are the places that I have gone in the past. I’m just sharing that with you because it certainly does—
I mean, if you’re in the middle of a singing career. Let’s say you’re performing on Broadway. Now, I’ll grant you, probably 99.9% of the people listening to this don’t have a role on Broadway right now, I understand that. But some of you may.
And if you’re opening a show or any kind of a show, oftentimes, at the very last minute, you’ll get given new lines. You’ll have a line taken away. You’ll have a song taken away if it’s still in a workshop sort of a situation, maybe a song you’ve grown attached to and handed another song. That’s tough. That’s really hard. That’s a hard thing to do when you’ve gotten really, really used to a song or really, really used to some lines or really, really used to some choices, and all of a sudden, the director says, “I want you to go in a different direction with that,” it’s like, “Oh, okay…” or the music director, the composer come up and say, “That song, it’s not telling the kind of story we want. This one is better. I wrote this one last night” or “I changed that lyric. Here, do this now.”
So, if we don’t have a real attitude of openness and flexibility with our careers and our singing, it’s a challenge. It’s very, very tough.
I’m going to share something else. This podcast actually was going to be about something completely different. And I don’t know if I’m actually going to get to what it was going to be about because it seems to be about this. So, next time, it’ll be about what it was going to be about. And today, it’ll be about this because I have another thing that I want to share with you, a story that I had over the holiday.
I sang at a Christmas party, just a couple of songs. I was only going to do one. And then, my sister-in-law said, “You know, if you’re going to do one, you really should have another because you’re going to have a great time doing one, and you want to have another song too.” I thought, “No, I’m not going to do another.” She goes, “No, you really should. You’re going to have a really good time.”
Okay, now it’s time for a back story. I don’t know if any of you watch Phineas & Ferb or have seen it with your kids. That’s become one of my favorite shows. My little boy watches Phineas & Ferb and there’s an evil Heinz Doofenshmirtz. He’s the evil guy, but he’s hysterical. He’s very, very fun. And there’s always a back story to why he became bad. I mean, for a cartoon, it’s really bright, but it’s really, really funny.
So anyway, in honor of Doofenshmirtz, I’ll give you a little bit of a back story. And I really, really labored over this. I’ve paused this and erased things, and I never do that. I pause this podcast and erased three or four parts of this that I thought, “I don’t know, I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready to expose this, to talk about this. I’m just really not ready.”
And if you’re hearing this now, I did not erase this one, but it deserves a back story. This is me being completely transparent in a way that I really haven’t actually been in public except for a few students and, obviously, family. But anyway, it’ll make sense in a minute.
I decided to do two songs. The reason I wasn’t going to do two songs and the reason I wasn’t even going to do one and haven’t done one in the past is because for about the last year or so, my voice has been not really there at anywhere near 100%, maybe 40% to 50%, but at best, 60% sometimes once in a while. It’s hoarse, really phlegmy. They don’t know, allergies, reflux, whatever.
And this has honestly been—and this is the transparent part. This has been chronic now for about 10 years. So in that 10 years, I have sung better than I’ve ever sung in my life, and I’ve not been able to sing. And it’s weird. It can from day to day. I’ll sing amazingly well for a year, and then I won’t be able to sing for another year. I wake up one day and my voice is there. I don’t do anything. I sing maybe a little bit. I wake up the next day and it’s not. And so it’s been very frustrating.
And so when I say whatever you’re going through vocally, I understand, I really do. I mean, singing is a tremendous passion to me. I love it. I love it dearly. I’ve dedicated my whole career to singing. And it’s something that when my voice is there, I sing about 24 hours a day everywhere, every minute. And to not be able to do it at my fullest right now or anywhere even close to my fullest is—
And I’m not saying so the violins are going to start in the background. I’m saying this because it really is—doing this inner singer thing is really, really important to me. And anything that you guys are going through with your voices, you think you should be getting faster, your high notes aren’t where you thought they should be, I get it.
I want you to know this because I’m not some guy that woke up one day, wanted to sing and just sang great. Now, there are a lot of people like that. I wasn’t one of them. And the thing that’s scariest to me is when I finally got to the point where my voice would really do what I want it to do and I could do all kinds of great things with it, my technique, I’d thought was, “Wow! This is really, really cool. It’s going to get better and better from here,” then all these silly stuff started going on.
So, I tell you that—and that’s one of the main reasons that got me going on The Inner Singer. And it’s important that you all know that because it’s important that you all know that I really walk the walk, that I really am doing the inner singer work, that I’ve had some things going on, challenges going on with my voice.
And the doctors clearly has nothing to do with your technique. It’s like, “Whoa! I know but I teach voice. I really can’t demonstrate too well anymore. That’s embarrassing. People are going to think that I’m a lousy teacher, and they’re going to think that I got this way because I sing badly and used poor technique.”
I could get notes from doctors and show you to validate that that’s not true, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Although, to me, for a while, it was. I thought, “No, nobody is going to believe this. They’re just going to think I’m a lousy singer and I’m a lousy teacher. I’m going to lose all my credibility because all these other teachers out there, a lot of them sing well. I used to sing great. And now I’ve got 30%, 40%, maybe 50% or 60% on a good day of my voice.”
So anyway, that’s the backstory. I decided to come out this time and sing anyway. I thought, “You know if I’m hoarse and if it’s raspy, it doesn’t matter. I’ll just do Tony Bennet.” I do a pretty good Tony Bennett, the old Tony Bennet who had a little bit of a rasp going. I do a pretty good Tony Bennet. If I have to, I can just toss in a little Tony—and I love Tony Bennet.
But anyway, first, I said no, a flat out no. I thought, “You know, I’m pretty sure this one song I’m going to do, Feliz Navida, the beginning of it, that nobody knows, it’s soft and pretty. People are used to me doing that. That’s not going to be anything big. It won’t be shocking. And it’ll be nice and I can go into the big fun part of it. Everybody is going to be sing. My son will sing. My wife will sing. Jeff, the piano player will come in. Everybody will join in. Everybody knows the song. That will great! Okay, cool.”
At first, my sister-in-law, “No, you need to do another.” “No, I’m not going to do another” because that’s going to reveal potentially this raspy thing going on. She goes, “No, you have to do it. You’re just telling the story.” She goes a lot deeper than that. She was like giving my inner singer stuff back to me, which was really great. I really needed it.
So, I play guitar. I just figured out, “Okay, I’ll figure out What Child is This?” So I figured out What Child is This?
If I’ve already said that, like I said, I erased four or five things in here. I don’t know what I’ve said. I’m just pointing out I don’t even know what I’ve erased. So if I’ve told these things before, please forgive me. I usually don’t erase things, but I wasn’t really sure. I just wanted to let everybody know this right now. But anyway, what the heck?!
So anyway, I figured out What Child is This? really fast. I sang through it, my wife and I. My wife is amazing. So, we did a fun version of it.
I, myself, I thought I sounded like Bryan Adams. Now, I like Bryan Adams. I love Bryan Adams. Don’t get me wrong. He seems great. But I just never thought of myself as sounding like Bryan Adams. And so in my mind, I’m sounding like Bryan Adams.
Val says, “Oh, that was beautiful!” I said, “I sound like Bryan Adams.” She said, “No.” She mimicked back to me or parroted back to me the things that I tell all of you guys when it comes to performing and having an experience. She said, “No, it wasn’t that.” She said, “It was way, way, way beyond your voice. It’s the connection. It’s the heart. It’s the joy. It’s the love. It’s the soul that you put in that.”
And I thought for a second, and I thought, “You know what? My voice isn’t working the way it can work. I cannot show off. I can’t do anything to show off. All I have is authenticity. All I have is the love of singing. All I have is to allow that joy and that love to pour through and to not judge what I sound like, but to just practice what I preach and do this.”
And so, I thought, “You know, I’m going to do this. I’m just going to have fun. I’m going to have an experience. And I’m going to open to it being a wonderful experience.”
And so, fast forward to the party, I went. The first one we did was the one I had to do with my wife, What Child is This? And it went pretty well. I didn’t sound like Bryan Adams. I want Bryan Adams, but what I mean was I wasn’t really terribly raspy.
Now, granted, it doesn’t go high at all. There are no high notes in it. See, that’s me. That’s my disclaimer. That’s me saying, “Oh, that’s pretty good, but there were no high notes.” Believe me, I get it. I totally know. I do all these stuff myself. But nevertheless, I did it and I had a great time and a wonderful experience. And I was really comfortable and I felt—I mean, I don’t mind singing for people. I really enjoy it. That’s not one of my things. But as you know, I have other things.
So, we all have something. We all have some story. That’s not mine. Singing in front of people is not my story. I shared all my other stories with you, including this, which is the one closest to my heart, and the one that I have been most embarrassed to share. See, you can tell that I feel slightly awkward and off my game because I never say “uhm” this much, but this is me being vulnerable because, as they say, vulnerability is the new power. Isn’t that what they say? I don’t know.
Anyway, I had a great time doing it. She was completely right. And then, when it came, the time, to do Feliz Navida, I felt wonderful. I was really relaxed. I had a great time. I just sang. I caressed the notes. I just loved it!
Now, I’m going to be really honest too. This isn’t cocky. This isn’t arrogant. This isn’t anything. I tell you all the bad stuff. So I get to tell you the good stuff.
Now, I won’t judge you this bad, but I’m really transparent about the stories and negativity and all that. So I want to be transparent about the fun stuff too. All that story is not that fun.
But then going up to somebody afterwards and having them say, “Wow! When you were singing that, you could hear a pin drop.” It’s like, “Wow! That was really cool. It felt great. It was really fun. Oh, we were so present.”
And another gal said, “Oh, the energy you brough to that…” She didn’t mean energy like, “Whoa! Energy, energy…” She means just like the energy of love and presence and all that. So she was really complimentary along those lines, and I thought, “Well, that’s really what it’s about anyway.”And Jeff, the piano player, was thrilled.
Like I said, I’m telling you the good stuff too. I told you all the other stuff, so don’t think, “Oh, he’s just talking about how wonderful he is.” No, no, no. No. If I had my way, I would get up and sing like Andre Bocelli. I love all those songs. I would sing all those songs. I would end on these amazing high notes and people would come up and tell me how f—I almost swore—people would tell me how wonderful I am.
No, that’s a story. That’s my thing. That’s what I want. I want people to come up and tell me how wonderful I am, they’ve never heard a voice like that, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Okay? There! I got that out.
But what people said was what I told you. And Jeff, the piano player, gave me the biggest compliment because I play guitar and I sang two songs and all that. He said, “I wish you’d sing more.”
He’s always saying that. He comes down, he’s the accompanist with a student of mine who’s also a really, really good friend. We all go down on Wednesdays and we sing there. I teach my student, and then, Jeff, the accompanist, shows up and we all—well, they all sing.
Jeff has heard me sing well because when my voice is in good shape, I’ll pop off a note here and there. He says, “Well, I don’t know why you don’t sing more.” And then, I try and tell him gently—well, you know, the story that I told you. But people don’t really understand because I’ve never been really honest with them.
And so, I was afraid to sing in front of him, “Jeff is finally going to hear me song and he’s going to think, ‘Oh, my gosh! I’ve been wrong all these years.’” But anyway, he said, “You’re one of those guys in music school that I love to hate. You’re so talented. You sing so great and you play guitar.”
Anyway, I told you I’m going to tell you the good stuff. I’m embarassed. I’m kind of embarrassed saying that because, number one, it wasn’t that great. I sang two, little goofy songs. They’re not hard songs or anything.
But the reason I want to tell you the story that follows the back story is because it was really fun to come out the other end. I could’ve done what I always do every year and just not sung—just refuse to sing, don’t let the cat out of the bag. But this year, I said, “No, I’m going to sing.” And not only did I sing one, but I actually listened to my sister-in-law who guided me through this inner stuff—that I teach, by the way—and said, “No, you have to sing two, and here’s why. You’re telling a story.”
And I’m defending my story like crazy, right? “No, I can’t sing two. I can’t let people know.” No, no, no. You’re telling a story. Do you want to defend that story any longer or do you want to open up, let the story out, and start singing and enjoying your life. Be raspy if you’re raspy and be in what you would call good voice on another day. Just be with your voice. And why don’t you just start having fun and stop hiding?
So, there you go! So that’s what I did. And it was really nice to come out the other end and get such a wonderful compliment from Jeff and from other people and to feel really great about it and to have my son be there and finally get to see his dad sing.
So, anyway, I know this is really long. I know. I’m looking down and I’m saying, “Whoa, nelly! Twenty-eight minutes or something.” So sorry to keep you this long. I don’t know if—I don’t know. Here I am. This is—there you go!
I’m just going to sign off now. This has been a really weird one for me because I never—I mean, I try and conceal this from in-person students. And finally, there are a choiced few that I have told what’s going on that I don’t demonstrate so much all the time because I used to be the king of demonstration.
And I’m not sure it was that much demonstration as it was showing off to tell you the truth. I don’t mean showing off in a mean way. I was so excited to be able to finally do this stuff that any chance I got to do it, I would do it. So if it was on a lesson, I would do it. It’s really obviously time for me to find—
And I really do believe that I will get my voice totally 100% back. I mean, I’ve doubted that a little bit, and it’s hard sometimes. But I really do believe it. I think that I’m finding a new relationship with singing, a new relationship with my voice. And this was really, really important to me to go through this, to be willing to not sound very good, but just to totally enjoy singing. And I just loved it up there.
Now, granted, I was able to sing. I didn’t totally suck or anything. I didn’t have laryngitis or anything—then you couldn’t sing obviously. But in this instance, yeah, I really felt that it was really hugely important and that if one day, I can sing the big Bocelli stuff, if I can approach it from this place rather than from a showing-off place or anything like that, it’s just so much fun.
It’s just so much more fun to not care. And I was given a wonderful gift of I’m just one of the guys singing. I’m not the best one. I’m not going to dazzle anybody. And if there’s any impression made, it’s going to have to be by me being so present with myself and with the material and in the joy and just letting that flow because I’m not going to wow them. I don’t have big high notes here or anything. It was a huge lesson.
Anyway, I’m going to sign off now. It’s been about a half hour. Sorry to take so much time. It was really important to me. Let me know how you feel about this. But there you go!
I’ll do the podcast that I was going to do today next time. And I won’t tell you what it is. It’ll be a surprise, but it’ll be good.
So happy New Year, you guys. Thanks for hanging in with me on this one. It’s uh—I don’t know. I’ve got nothing else to say. It was pretty weird for me.
But anyway, take care. Bye bye.