I Did What? I Hugged a Gorilla and Sang!

John McManamy Health Guide

    Chances are you’ve experienced one of these moments.  You wake up in a state of total shock and dismay over something you did the day before. You know how it is. Maybe, at the office party, you had too much to drink and you hit on your boss’ wife. Maybe, you suddenly realize that, at a Star Trek convention, you spoke Klingon to a bunch of Cardassians.

    The truth strikes home. You can’t take it back. There will be repercussions. There will be consequences.

    Something like this just happened to me. I woke up in a panic. Did I? No, I thought, not possible. I must have been dreaming.

    Denial - cling onto it for dear life. Once you lose it, things can only get worse. I steadied myself and went to my YouTube page.

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    “Recovery Anthem,” read the latest entry.

    No! Say it ain’t so.

    I clicked on the video.

    “John McManamy presents ... “

    Damn you, evil twin!

    Blue grass music, throbbing pulse. Here it comes ...

    The dreaded sound of my own voice - singing!

    Historical note: For school concerts, my teachers told me to just mouth the words.

    Perhaps, this morning, you detected a subtle rift in the space-time fabric. That was me, screaming into the cosmos.

    The computer screen doesn’t lie. There I am, starring in my own music video:

    “Pointin’ fingers at me, I weren’t one-a them. Laughin’ kids, laughin’ kids, I weren’t one-a  them.”

    Oh, the humanity!

    “It happened on me, one day one day when I was three. One day, one day, my brain quit on me.”

    It all comes back to me. It sounded like a good idea at the time. I had downloaded some bluegrass instrumentals from a paid service that gave me the rights to use the content as I pleased (why oh why couldn’t they have put restrictions on its use?). I was building a music library as background music for the educational videos I had started doing about three months before.

    But when I played this particular track, a new idea occurred to me. Next thing, I was writing lyrics. Next thing, I was scripting a story line. Next thing, I was laying down tracks in GarageBand. Next thing, I had my camcorder and tripod set up on a Forest Service dirt track in back of our house:

    “I been down this road, tryin’ to put down my load. My friend, an end, a time to mend.”

    Then I was inside, arms extended in front of what they refer to in Hollywood as a “green screen.” This was my “hug a gorilla” scene that I would combine with footage I had shot a few weeks before at the San Diego Zoo. Then to FinalCut Express and post-production.

    “It happened on me, when I was 53. One day, one day, my brain healed on me.”

    Maybe I can pretend someone else was singing, I decided. But, no! There I am, on screen, mouthing the words:

    “I been down this road, finally put down my load. My friend, an end, a time to mend.”

    Please, God, maybe I forgot to include the credits:

    “John McManamy, Lyrics, Vocals, Trombones.”

    Trombones! My God! So that was what those foghorns were.

    “Recovery is possible,” appeared in white letters on a black background.

  • My moment of truth had come. The shame, the horror. Time to find a crack in the floor I could shrink through. Then a new thought:

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    Wait! You know, I kinda like it.

    Okay, I had to overlook a few minor things such as my complete lack of familiarity with the concept of key signatures.

    I played it again. You know, it kinda grows on you.

    Recovery is indeed possible. At age 58, a scared little kid - too afraid to sing - finally sang.

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Published On: July 22, 2008