(Im)perfection

woodbowlYou’d think, for all the times I’d shouted “STRONG AND WRONG!!!” at my students with clenched fists in the air and mock rage on my face, that I’d be better at it.

But every time I get ready to upload a new recording to my Demo Recordings page, the script starts again: “Is this really ready to share?  Shouldn’t I listen through again to be sure it’s okay?  Couldn’t I hit that note a little more in-tune?  Shape that phrase a little more precisely?  Bring out that nuance with a little more agility?”

“Someone to Fall Back On,” from Jason Robert Brown’s first solo album, Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes, is one of those songs that just reaches into my chest and makes me feel.  “I am no prince,” he says; “I am no saint.  And if that’s what you believe you need, you’re wrong….”

I have loved singing this song since I first discovered it.  I’ve used it at workshops, in worship, and in concerts.  And I’ve never once sung it perfectly.

There’s that out-of-nowhere high A in the last line of the bridge.  The high G at the end that I want to hold two beats longer than my lungs want me to.  And of course the fact that I can’t actually make it through the whole song without choking back tears.

But every time I’ve sung it, I’ve heard that sound in the audience after the last note fades away: the silence of held breath, of self-recognition, of mute gratitude for the blissful agony of shared pain.  Something in us needs to remember—and to be reminded, often—that to be human is to be flawed, and that therefore to be flawed, in some perplexing but profoundly important way, is to be perfect.

This recording is flawed.  The song doesn’t sound as good here as it does in my mind when I daydream.  But when I listened through just now, before uploading it, I thought of all the people in my life who I’ve been able to “fall back on,” and all the people in my life I hope trust they can fall back on me, and I had the kind of cry that feels really, really good.

Be well, y’all.

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  1. it’s 1 am the night before show and i’m just checking out your website. this one made me cry….thanks for being you.

What do you say to that?