But still, there were many good singing moments at this year's Ale. My Sunday tour had a great pub stop singing, and there were some small blooms of song before and after meals in the dining hall that pleased me greatly. In particular I think of when Rick Nagler grabbed me from my seat and physically pulled me up to sing Sussex Downs with him and two of the Toronto Sword women. There were some good singing times on the tour buses, including the annual singing of what I call Michael Shewmaker's song, which was written spontaneously (literally as improv) one Ale afternoon when Michael looked to Mountain Dew for his caffeine fix and boarded the bus, sleepily, can in hand. To the tune of Good Ale we sang:
Of Mountain Dew to you we sing
To Mountain Dew he'll always cling
He likes his can filled to the brim
And he'll drink all you care to bring
Mountain Dew, thou art Mike's darling
Thou art Mike's joy both night and morning
Now all my friends say, "What is this?!
It tastes like something close to piss!"
Then to them all I say, "f*** you!
For I do love my Mountain Dew"
It goes on, sometimes, slowly and deliberately and harmonically. It would be fun at no other time and place than on a tour bus at an Ale, I suspect.
But the moment that stands out for me, over a week later, is a song Carol Mohr of Ann Arbor led from her seat during skit night on Sunday. Several weeks before the Ale Carol had sent email to a few of us tossing out the idea of a "mass song" along the lines of a "mass dance" -- a song we teach everybody so that all can join in over the course of the Ale. I, myself, wasn't sure this would work, although when I bring it up with people who are not usually part of the chorus song cult they tell me they would enjoy this. Nothing came of that discussion, but while most of the Ale attendees were gathered in the lodge for the skits Carol said that it had long been a dream of hers to have this group all sing a song together, and in an easy key and with a gentle approach she began right in with The Leaving of Liverpool.
When she came to the chorus the entire room joined in, picking up her style and approach, and the large warm room filled with voices. By gosh, pretty much everybody in that room really does love to sing, given the opportunity, and I felt embraced with the sound and feeling. It was the right song in the right approach at the right time and place.
I think about that moment and I smile.