Friday, June 10, 2011

Animus


“Animus… It means spirit, courage, passion, wrath. This is mine.” ~Tony Stonem, Skins
I wrote it across my bicep with a Sharpie before I left…to remind me. Put fresh strings on Zelda, and set off to terrorize the quiet night.
I’m a singer/songwriter. And in some quarters- alright, in MOST quarters- that conjures an image of a willow-y, blond, wan, makeup-less girl with a sunburst acoustic guitar breathing out verse from her diary that she’s propped on a music stand in a teary soprano, while an erstwhile chap in a flannel shirt and felt fedora taps bongos behind her.
I’m not that kind of singer/songwriter.
Which has caused some consternation with bookers and soundmen alike. The former finds that his ostensible “background music” is silencing his small talkers, or scaring his children, and the latter gasps “Fuck!” when I start to sing, and flies across the booth for his compressor…Then glares at me for the remaining 40 minutes I’m up there.
(After a particularly rowdy night, one such sound tech came up to me and grabbed my ribcage. “Can I touch you?”, he asked, belatedly.
“Why?”, I backed away.
“Because I can’t believe all that noise came out of that little person.”)
I wear big boots for this reason. Yes, I am small- but I FEEL 5’9” with my boots! Without them, I’m an “awww”-worthy 5’3”.  This induces my drummer to pick me up and toss me over his shoulder (by the way- not cool. You don’t see Shannon throwing Jared around, do you? But I digress..).
So to sum up- I’m little and loud and LOW, and damn it, I’m tried of apologizing for it. I’m weary of the other flower-y acts who look up when I start, with so much horror on their faces…they look at each other, and you know their internal monologue sounds something like, “Oh. my. God. Becky. Listen to her. She is sooo loud…And she growls like a man…”.
(Ironically, dudes dig it.  That low growl is what gets me calls from metal bands to put tracks down on crazy thrash records!)
I decided last night to make no excuses. To say what I wanted, the way I wanted. To sing as loud as I felt. To feel as hard as I sang.  And it was unlike any show before.
Just me and Zelda, and, for the first time, my spoken word poetry. Was there a ‘fuck’ or two? I cannot lie. But I felt the songs in a way that I may have never felt them before, knit together by verse… and I let them carry me.
After shows, folks in the audience like to come up, hug me, chat, etc.  Last night- no one would come near. They shrank back. They stared. They were afraid.
Sean said, “You were ANGRY.” And I realized, he was right- I was. And I LET myself be, instead of pretending I wasn’t. And it felt good.
The guy who sang before me said backstage, “Great set… man, that VOICE!”. 
(I always feel like Owen Meany when people say that.:)
But I thanked him- because I could see in his eyes… he got what I was doing out there.
“Animus… It means spirit, courage, passion, wrath”. THAT was mine.
And now that I’ve found it- I won’t lose it again.