I love ya, and I think maybe if we sing together, well, we’d just feel a little bit better. Give it a try, okay? —Neil Diamond
Thus quoth singer-songwriter Neil Diamond on March 23, before launching into his surprisingly sturdy monster hit, "Sweet Caroline," having reworked its lyrics to promote hand-washing and social distancing to help control the spread of COVID-19.
He’s not wrong about the therapeutic benefits of group singing. Ditto the imperative to resist gathering publicly, or even in the homes of extended family and close friends, until this crisis is in the rear view.
Choir! Choir! Choir!, an ongoing community sing that’s attained global renown thanks to its frequent tours, charitable work, and the support of such starry personages as Patti Smith and David Byrne, has had to put the kibosh on live group events. (Check out their 2014 singalong of Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," above, for a taste of the proceedings.)
With everyone staying home, founders Nobu Adilman and Daveed Goldman quickly implemented a digital work around, inviting fans and first-timers alike to weekly online sing-ins.
Their next Social Distan-Sing-Along is coming up this Saturday, April 4th at 3pm EDT, featuring a campfire-themed playlist:
"Blowin' In The Wind"
"Leaving On A Jet Plane"
"Talkin Bout A Revolution"
"Dust In The Wind"
"Cats In The Cradle"
(Sadly, no "Titanic," but perhaps that one’s more summer camp than campfire, and these days, it’s probably best to sidestep any number, no matter how silly, that springs from mass casualties…)
Participants are instructed to print a file of the song lyrics in advance and show up to the digital campfire (live streaming on YouTube or Facebook) with a couple of devices—enough to follow along with Adilman and Goldman, while simultaneously Zooming in any friends you've pre-arranged to sing with.
(With 1000s attending, one of Choir! Choir! Choir!’s usual joys—lifting one’s voice with a vast chorus of mostly strangers—is a logistical and technological impossibility.)
Participants are also encouraged to share footage of themselves singing along, using the hashtag #NeverStopSinging—though we remind our non-performance-oriented readers that this is merely a suggestion.
Choir! Choir! Choir in isolation may well attract shower Sinatras who’d never dream of opening their mouths at an in-person event.
It’s a golden opportunity for the vocally shy to become part of one of the biggest choirs in history, secure in the knowledge that the only people to hear them croaking away will be the cat, the dog, any human co-inhabitants… and, oh dear, what about neighbors in the immediate vicinity?
Don't worry about the neighbors. In fact, prick up your ears—you may hear them singing the exact same tunes.
Download the lyrics for April 4’s campfire here prior to joining in on YouTube or Facebook. If you miss this one, you’ll have another opportunity the following Saturday, when Choir! Choir! Choir! is hosting a virtual "sing-a-thon" in support of the Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Campaign.
To get you in the mood, here are some of our favorites from Choir! Choir! Choir!’s classic playlist:
Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Like Choir! Choir! Choir!, she has been crowdsourcing art in isolation, most recently a hastily assembled tribute to the classic 60s social line dance, The Madison. Follow her @AyunHalliday.