SINGING HAS NEVER BEEN MY STRONG SUIT. I’d rather be run over by a truck than attempt a solo (unless it was in the shower). But about 300 years ago, before guitars ruled the world, I was a choirboy. Not a begowned, becandled, cathedral-type choirboy. No. A conscientious, working-class choirboy. But with a voice (according to my mum) that was pure as a bellbird.
It was all Mum’s doing, actually. She was in the choir. She loved singing solos. And I grew up nervously knowing that, one day, I would have to take my place up there in the terraced rows of earnest songsters.
My career as a choirboy was supposed to begin when my voice broke. But I was a late-developer, and my voice never broke – it just bent. Which is how I came to join (you guessed it) the sopranos – blush-blush – the only boy amongst 12 women, all of whom were taller than me.
Somehow, my sense of obligation overcame my embarrassment. And I bravely held my own through anthems and cantatas, quavers and crescendos.
Puberty finally came my way (albeit a mild attack), and I got acne, plus my first pair of long trousers, plus I started shaving on Sundays … all of which helped me sing a little deeper. So I was promoted to the men’s row – as a tenor.
My dad was a tenor, and my mum was so proud. And singing beside Dad the night we did the Hallelujah Chorus was the peak of my stint on stage.
Frankly, it was all downhill after that. And, in the end, the only thing that got me to choir-practice was the prospect of standing two rows behind the sweet young girl who was destined to become my wife and the mother of my children.
The End. Amen!
JOHN COONEY, GRAPEVINE’S FOUNDER & ‘BIG CHEESE’, IS MORE MUSICAL THAN HE CARES TO ADMIT. IN FACT, HE COMES FROM A LONG LINE OF WHISTLERS. “I ONCE TAUGHT MYSELF TO WHISTLE BY SUCKING IN AS WELL AS BLOWING OUT!”