Even when I was young, I preferred the sound of a voice with some mileage in it. Rarely, young men could accomplish this through too much smoke or booze or too many protests marring their vocal chords. But mostly, it was the rasp of age, wisdom, and more than a little sorrow.
When I think of the love songs that have mattered the most in my life, they often have that sound. The sadder but wiser voice. The I’ve-done-some-looking-around-and-you’re-the-gold-at-the-end-of-my-rainbow sound.
• Joe Cocker, “You Are So Beautiful”
• Rod Stewart, “You’re in My Heart”
• Bob Seger, “We’ve Got Tonight”
• Johnny Cash, “I Walk the Line”
• Willie Nelson, “You Don’t Know Me”
• Ray Charles, “I Can’t Stop Loving You”
• Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me to the End of Love”
For those artists who’ve continued to record, I’ve continued to respond to their newer tracks with their older voices. Roy Orbison’s oldest “Pretty Woman” was his best pretty woman as far as I’m concerned. I think songs and the men who sing them are a part of my cellular structure and have aged along with me to something better than they once were. Youth has its upside, but experience lends its own magic to the meaning of things.
The men on the soundtrack of my life are mostly gone now. There are a few still capable of moving me to tears … Johnny Mathis with “The Twelfth of Never” which is a calendar date that is much closer for both of us these days. Raul Malo of the Mavericks singing “The Air that I Breathe” or damn near anything else. The imaginary sound I carry in my head of an old Jim Morrison if he were alive to “Light My Fire” today.
Of course, there are plenty of men from this century capable of twirling a girl’s skirts … I’m just not sure I’m still capable of having them twirled by these young pretenders.
Women deserve a hit list, too. Those magical voices proclaiming loves lost and found. Ronstadt, Raitt, Nicks, Slick, Franklin. Yes, the songbirds deserve their own list. Fortunately, there’s always another day on the Back Nine. Or you can compile your own lists and send them to me. I’d really like that.
Linda B. Myers is a founding member of Olympic Peninsula Authors and author of the new historical novel Fog Coast Runaway, available on amazon.com, at lindabmyers.com, or at local retailers. Contact her at email@example.com or Facebook.com/lindabmyers.author.