April 11, 2008

Sound: Bono Vox

No, my dear friends, this isn't a long and detailed appreciation of U2, although that might be fun some day. Instead, I'm going to explore the five senses, something I make my students do regularly. They learn to identify and write about their experiences with those five basic and essential parts of our life. Today, I'm starting with the sense of sound.

We hear so much on a daily basis--the hum of power, the click of keyboard keys, music filtering through earbuds, nature struggling through modernity--but to me one of the most important things we hear are voices. A person's voice can be as big an identifier as her outward appearance. A common experience we have all shared involves hearing a recording of our voice and blurting out, "What?! I don't sound like that, do I?" and then fearing the answer.

I like my voice, but I like it best every year in January/February, when I get a cold (I've caught this same cold for about fifteen years) that descends right into my throat, dropping my voice about an octave. To me, I sound like a sexy, late-night DJ. Every time I get this cold, I start thinking about picking up the smoking habit, so that perhaps I could maintain this voice. (Don't worry, mom and dad, I won't!) As time goes by, I am more appreciative of the flexibility of my voice, and am grateful for my genetic tone and control. To be blessed with a strong voice is a blessing indeed.

An example: today, in my CP (honors-ish) English I class, we were watching Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet, and I was confiding to a student my crush on Michael York, who plays Tybalt. I informed her that he also plays Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers films. After the next Tybalt scene, she said, "You know, after you said that, I recognized his voice. He has such a strong voice." Of course, she's right, and even forty years later, his voice remains the same, even as wrinkles and grey hair have clouded his appearance.

Amanda's Top Ten Voices
10. Michael York (it's unforgettable, and deeply sexy)
9. Maria Callas (her Habenera from Carmen is burned in my brain)
8. Kathleen Turner (this is what I sound like with a cold--it's the best cold ever!)
7. Nina Totenberg (her recreations of the Supreme Court are inspiring)
6. My Mom (she is the reader of every childhood book--I hear the Chronicles of Narnia in her voice)
5. Harrison Ford (sandpaper rough with the constant hint of sarcasm)
4. Garrison Keillor (this might be because I grew up on Prairie Home Companion, but I love his slow baritone)
3. Alan Rickman (perfect Snape, perfect in anything)
2. Alison Krauss (a critic once accused her voice of being too perfect--what does that mean?)
1. James Earl Jones (simply the most powerful, commanding voice on the face of the earth)

Who would end up on your list?


Hannah said...

Right now, we're watching "Clear and Present Danger," numbers five and one! But I was checking on U2 yesterday and apparently they're in the Irish? studio working on the songs they wrote in Morocco and France last year! Did your little piece of mail arrive?

Amanda said...

It just did, and I meant to thank you so much--I need to figure out where to put it, and then its picture will definitely be on the blog!

Ah yes, the Harrison Ford Jack Ryan's, where he and James Earl Jones reunite. Wow--that makes at least five movies where you can hear both of them.

Sweet--a new U2 album!

mark said...

Sad to hear that your husband doesn't make your top 10, but at least I lost out to Darth Vader, Mufasa, Terrance Stamp (peace, love, dope), that guy who narrates "the Raven" from the Simpsons. Wait a minute, those are all the same guy...