Wednesday, April 13, 2005

In Defense of Manly Men Songs

Via Relapsed Catholic, a Washington Post article that states men don't like Church because "'s church culture favors, even expects, participation in intimate, nurturing behavior such as singing, hand-holding, sitting in circles and sharing feelings."

I have no idea why singing is classified as an intimate and nurturing behavior, but I deeply regret that singing has become associated almost entirely with the feminine or effeminate. Look at the classic movie "How Green Was My Valley." It depicts all these very masculine Welshmen singing on their way home from the coal mines, and in church, and in the bathtub. Needless to say, their songs sound great.

Part of the problem, I think, is that contemporary songs seem to be written for either women or high-voiced men. One of the male song leaders at my parish has a particularly nasal, airy, and, yes, effeminate voice. As a baritone who poorly sings along with the classically-trained male vocalists in his music collection, I simply can't bring myself to follow this man's lead unless a very good song comes up in which his amplified, though still puny voice is sure to be drowned out.

The only deep-voiced men in popular music I can recall are Elvis and Johnny Cash. The man who plays Jean Valjean in the musical Les Miserables sings so high it makes me wonder if he is a castrato, and truth be told I wonder the same thing about U2's Bono. Sadly, the ubiquity of boy bands and other metrosexual vocalists sets the tone for peoples' musical expectations, since the church has well nigh abdicated her role as the mother of culture. So I relish the deep-voiced cantores of opera, such as Don Giovanni, Leporello, and la statua gentilissima, not to mention Fidelio's Florestan and Rocco, and hope for a revival. The next time I am in a drinking establishment, perhaps I will try to revive the tradition of drinking songs. After all, I lost my self-consciousness months ago, and I ought to capitalize on my loss.

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