For our world, the
circle turns again
year we've seen the seasons change
It's meant a lot
to me to start anew
Oh, the winter's
cold, but I'm so warm with you
there's not a sound to be heard
And the seasons
seem to sleep upon their words
As the waters
freeze up with the summer's end
Oh, it's funny
how young lovers start as friends
it's funny how young lovers start as friends ...
I could feel that things were
beginning to get more serious with Ben, at least in terms of how I was
feeling. I wanted him to know that. And I could only hope that he would
feel the same way, too.
As I sat there, listening to the applause and just enjoying being up on
stage again, I started to feel something a little different ... kind of
like a sense of peace. I realized that I'd been taking a lot for
granted. Even the bad things that had happened to me over the past year
had all led to something wonderful in the end. Perhaps it was time to
let go of some of that anger and resentfulness I'd been carrying around
with me. And it took performing again for me to realize that. Pretty
heavy stuff for a teenager to have to be thinking about, huh?
Since I wasn't the last one to perform, and Ben insisted that it would
be the polite thing to do, I rejoined everyone on the sofa, and Cody
went to get me a fresh cup of Chai tea. Before the next act went on,
though, an older man, maybe in his early fifties or so, came and sat
down next to us. He was heavy-set, had a big, bushy beard, and looked a
little like Jerry Garcia from The Grateful Dead.
"You were really great up there," he said, sticking his hand out for me
to shake. "My name is Charles."
"I'm Connor," I replied, shaking his hand. "And these are my friends --
Cody, Toby, and Ben."
"It's nice to meet you all," he said, smiling and nodding slightly at
each one in turn.
"Anyway," Charles said, turning back to me. "When I heard you singing
up there, especially on your last song, I
couldn't help but think you sound an awful lot like José
"José who?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
Charles chuckled. "I'm sure he was way before your time. Anyway,
you have a really nice voice, but I have a friend who I think could
help you out some. He worked on some Motown and Philly Soul stuff a
number of years ago, and I think if you met with him for a few lessons,
he could really help you with your voice. He just happens to be in town
for a few weeks doing some recording sessions."
At first, I was a little wary of the offer. I wasn't sure if this guy
was serious, or if he was just perving on me or something. But I'd
never really been happy with my voice. I'd always considered myself to
be a piano player who just happened to sing, and never really good at
singing in its own right. So, I figured I'd take a chance, and maybe
good would come out of it. I wrote down my cell number for Charles,
thanked him, and told him to have his friend call me whenever he could.
The very next day, I got a call from Thom, Charles' friend, on my cell
phone while I was at work. He said that Charles had raved about my
talent, which caused me to blush right there on the phone, and he
wanted to meet with me as soon as I had the time. That afternoon, after
work, I drove back into the city to meet with Thom, who turned out to
be an older black man, with graying hair, a perpetual smile, and a
laugh. He wore wire-rimmed glasses and a ton of gold jewelry.
We met at the recording studio he was working at. I'd never been in a
recording studio, and this particular one was very nice. I was awed by
the size of the place, the dozens of gold records that lined the walls,
especially the studio itself, which had the most state-of-the-art
recording and mixing equipment I had ever seen, not to mention some
really expensive instruments. Thom had me
sit down at a topless grand piano that was hooked up
to a bunch of computer consoles. I was a little surprised when I hit
the keys and heard a funky, electric piano sound. He must have noticed
my confusion, as he then explained to me that the computer could be
to modify the sound of the piano. With the computer turned off, it
like a completely authentic grand piano. I think I fell in love with
that piano right then and there.
Thom then asked me to play something for him,
and I chose Elton John's "Philadelphia
"You're a natural singer, son," he said, with a deep laugh, as soon as
I finished. "I just
have a couple suggestions that I think would make you a great singer.
Give you a really powerful singing voice, soaked through with deep
I liked the sound of that. And I liked Thom.
He asked me if I'd ever heard of a song called "Are You Ready For
Love," which, of course, I had.
"Elton John recorded it back in 1979 when he did some sessions out in
Seattle," I replied. "It was remixed and re-released about a year ago
as a dance mix, and went to number one over in Britain."
Thom gave out another deep laugh and patted me on the shoulder. "You
really do know your stuff there,
He put me in the recording studio and put some earphones on me so I
could hear the backing tracks while I sang and played along on the
electric piano. The first time, he had me use my regular singing
voice, while he recorded it. When I was finished, he told me I was
singing a bit above my natural range, and should try singing about an
octave lower. He also said my voice needed to come from my stomach
instead of my throat. So, we tried it again, and after a few more
takes, he called me back into the control booth so I could compare my
first take of the song with the last one. I was amazed at how much
different -- and better -- my voice sounded.
I ended up going back to see Thom a few more times for some coaching,
both on my
voice and singing style. Each time, Thom recorded me, so I could hear
how I sounded, and I found that I was my own worst critic. But by the
time we were through, I was very pleased. I asked Thom how I could
repay him, but he just said to get out there and perform. I didn't know
how to do that, since I wasn't performing at the pub anymore, but I
would try to find a way. Thom also suggested that I try to put a band
together. He thought it would be good for me to work with other
musicians. I had no idea how I was supposed to do that, though. The
only other musician I knew was Cody, and he couldn't really play
electric guitar all that well.