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Conversations with a Capricorn

Published: 14 June 2022


Every time I meet someone new, whether it's online or in real life, and they'd see pictures of me singing or playing an instrument, they'd often say, "come on, sing or play something for me!" And I'd always decline.

I'm not trying to be coy or difficult. It's just that, for me, singing to someone or singing to a phone for purposes of recording and sending it to that someone isn't easy. That's because, in all honesty, I don't like the sound of my own voice— there's a name for that condition, I just can't recall it right now. But it's not unusual.

I am only able to sing in front of a crowd when I'm with my friends. You can think that they are my crutch— and they probably are. But I would like to think that “making music” is an activity that needs to be done with people you trust, if you're going to enjoy doing it in spite of all the reservations that you have about your abilities. I'm not a good singer although I will sing joyfully when in the right company.

I can imagine things to be different for people who receive some compensation from making music. People who, like the guy at Chill Top last Sunday, can just keep on playing even when the crowd was all but bubbles of private conversations. I couldn't really tell if he was happy; not when he was on stage, not when he was quietly having his meal at the table behind me— alone.

To be sure, my friends and I have experiences where we played for dead crowds or no crowd at all. But I don't remember us ever caring. Playing together had always been enough.

There was a time when we played at a car show at the Manila Baywalk. The audience was practically people inside their cars, stuck in traffic along Roxas Boulevard. It was fine. We were more concerned about not getting electrocuted by all the electricals on stage, all of which was drenched by rain. More fun was to be had backstage anyway, where Pocahontas had a seemingly endless supply of GSM Blue and serving them to the other bands and everyone else. Of course, we had already been served way before we got on stage so we were all warm and fuzzy when we played.

There was also a time when we played at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital— a friggin' hospital full of nuns... and sick people! Well, let's not get into specifics. Point is, it was a thoroughly fun experience that I remember so clearly as if it happened during this pandemic.

I will not sing just because you asked me to. Why would I?

You will not be impressed by my voice or my ability to articulate the emotions of your favourite songs. You will not be moved by how I play the guitar or the keyboard. You will not feel any bit special in having a recording of my unimpressive singing and unmoving instrument playing.

It would be like me standing in front of a mountain uttering prayers so that it may shift a few inches or turn a few degrees. Utterly useless— unless you are the right company.