The Singalong

We have a Christmas party every year, at which friends, family and neighbours gather to eat, drink, renew acquaintances - and sing Christmas songs and carols. Leading a singalong was never something I thought I would find myself doing, but it's something I look forward to each year and much to my surprise so do many of the guests. This led me to the inevitable and wholly obvious conclusion: people really like to sing, and I think it's especially fun to sing in a big group.
I've been reflecting on some of the concerts I went to this year and realized that a common theme was people singing along. I saw Springsteen twice, once in a baseball stadium and once in a relatively small arena. Since he first started touring his audience has sung along. Way back in the day I couldn't figure out how people knew when to chime in - this is before youtube and all that - then it hit me that they didn't have to figure it out because Bruce just took advantage of the fact that they were already singing. Then he started encouraging them, pointing the microphone at them, all that stuff. Now his shows are great big long communal opportunities to celebrate singing.
A Blue Rodeo concert is the same. The audience seems to go with the expectation that they're going to participate in a celebration of these songs that are part of the fabric of their lives.
At a recent Dave Matthews show the band actually seemed a bit taken aback when the crowd started to sing as soon as they recognized the opening few bars of one of his songs. It was kind of magical.
The singalong has been a part of almost all the concerts I saw this year: Great Big Sea and Coldplay both play songs that lend themselves to warbling your heart out. GBS always turns whatever venue they are in into a big kitchen party with everyone standing, dancing and singing along.
For someone like me, who's a bit reticent and shy, these celebrations are very liberating. It's uplifting to be part of a big collective that's gathered to celebrate music. And it's very joyful at Christmas to get everyone together to belt out the standards and the carols while the kids (and some adults!) shake the shakers and jingle the bells.