717. High Enough

(So close to revealing the cover designs for the new omnibus! We’re now at $2,441 in the the Kickstarter and when we get to $2,500 I’ll post them! Have you been meaning to back it? Clicky Here… -ctan)

Ziggy waited until we got home from Limelight that night to say “I told you so,” and then he told me in very very gentle terms, while wrapped around me in bed like a glitter-covered octopus.

He whispered. “You.”

“Hm?” I had been drifting in a post-sex daze, not asleep but not all there either.


“I can what?”


“Yeah, yeah.”

“You could sing like me.”

“No one can sing like you.” I mustered the energy to roll on top of him and flatten him and he purred like a cat getting its belly rubbed. “You put her up to telling me that.”

“Yes, but it’s true.” He silenced himself by kissing my mouth, then my throat. “It’s why you could write songs that really worked for me. Because you could think in my register.”

“You think so?”

“I think so. I know you’re working on the arrangements.” He pushed me gently onto my back until he was on top. “I’ve been wanting to ask your opinion on something.”

I had a moment when I was looking up into his face and I forgot what he was saying because I was so caught up in the thought of hey, he’s here, he’s right in my face, he’s real and we’re in love and holy shit, right? Oh wait, what was he saying? “Um, my opinion?”

“What do you think about…” His eyes were very large and smudged. “Transposing the key upward on some of the songs?”

I sat up so fast we almost knocked heads, everything in me vibrating like a string. “Say that again.”

He folded his legs to one side, leaning on one of his arms. “What do you think about transposing the key upward on some of the songs.”

I crawled off the bed to where the Ovation case was sitting on the floor (I never travel without one), got out the guitar and pulled the capo out of the storage compartment.

Ziggy warmed up his voice while I quickly tuned, and then I said, “The power ballad. Which on the album is just a ballad but I want to make it a power ballad.” I couldn’t remember the title. I didn’t need to, though. I just needed to remember the chords.

Right. We’d worked on it in a bunch of the drum auditions which is why Ziggy knew what I was talking about. I snapped the capo on.

Of course, right at this moment we weren’t doing it as a power ballad because I was sitting on the floor, naked, with an acoustic guitar, and he was trying not to blow out his voice after not really warming up very much, but this was just to give us the idea of what it could be, what it might be…though I knew already what it was going to sound like. I knew.

All those songs Jordan had picked out, hooky but bland, they were all written for run-of-the-mill baritones and they hadn’t transposed them–or hadn’t transposed them enough. Maybe they’d been concerned because of the whole business with the cortisone shot and everything that had happened in the summer of ’89? Ziggy had a much much stronger voice now, though–and a much more fluid voice, too–thanks to all the work he’d done with Priss.

Does it even mean anything for me to describe it as sounding beautiful? I mean, anything that came out of Ziggy’s mouth was beautiful to me, and you already know how I feel about the Ovation. They were perfectly matched, finely made instruments with a naturally sweet resonance only sweetened and tempered by time.

We didn’t make it to the end of the song because the upstairs neighbor thumped on the floor/ceiling to tell us to shut up, which was totally reasonable and we took as our cue to get in the shower.

While we were in the spray, I confessed. “I’ve felt like something was missing from the album all along, you know. ‘Do It’ is good, but the rest just felt lifeless to me. Now I know why. It’s not that your performance isn’t good, either. It’s just… not in the sweet spot for your voice. It’s so obvious now.”

“I was trying for a sultry maturity, thinking I’d just jump the octave when I needed to for punch,” Ziggy said.

“You’ll still jump the octave for punch,” I said. “You can hit a home run on anything above on anything above G.”

We got back in bed, but I couldn’t sleep, thinking about all the changes I wanted to make. After he conked out, I slipped out of bed and made copious notes on the staff notebook in the guitar case. The idea I’d had for a song the other night, the “show” business one, floated up with a scrap of melody related to the one in “After the Storm,” and I jotted all this down silently without knowing for sure what it would sound like, but there would be tomorrow or the next day for that.

And then I sat in the window looking at nothing, until I heard a murmur from the bed. “Hm?”

“Come here,” he said a little louder. “And sleep, Daron. Sleep.”

I got under the covers with him and let him wrap my arm around him like a blanket. “What did we schedule for tomorrow?”

“You’re going to lift weights with Christian and then rehearse with your as-yet-unnamed band. But not until after lunch.”

“Okay, good.” With my arm trapped I figured I better try to do as he asked and actually I fell asleep pretty quickly after that.

(Hey readers, just wanted to bring a comment on one of last week’s posts to everyone’s attention. With Bradley being the first trans character that we know of in the series [I’m not revealing if there were others Daron missed…], some discussion has been spurred. A longtime reader, Tim, posted some thoughts and issues to be aware of around language uses and ways we could all be respectful of trans folk in our comments. Check out the comment here: https://daron.ceciliatan.com/archives/5335/comment-page-1#comment-94419 -ctan)


  • s says:

    Ok Daron, Ziggy thinks you can sing. Priss thinks you can sing. The only person I see denying that you can sing is you. Let that sink in for a moment, dear.

    Btw, I loved that Damn Yankees song back in the day.

    • daron says:

      I didn’t say I couldn’t sing. I am not a singer. It’s different. I’m also not a pianist even though I can get through a song on the piano.

      It goes back to what I said about music a million chapters ago. The difference between a competent and a great musician isn’t technical prowess, isn’t how fast or accurate your fingers are, it’s expressiveness, it’s something underneath it all that connects you to your instrument or the notes or something. It’s on a telepathic or spiritual or mental level other than the physical ability and that’s what makes Ziggy a singer and me not. I’m happy to tune my instrument better and learn how not to damage myself but they’re not going to transform me from chorus boy to star (and they’re not trying to).

      • G says:

        You know what? I can get behind this line of thinking, Daron! I don’t see you as a showman like Ziggy, I guess I see you as a good time with some awesome music. Maybe your spiritual level happens with your guitar instead of your voice, and that’s why you’re not as into all this hype about your voice?

        • daron says:

          If you want to get spiritual about it, music comes through you, not from you, so it doesn’t matter what instrument you play or if that instrument is your own fingers/vocal cords/knees whatever.

      • Bill Heath says:

        I actually get it. I was good enough to play piano, clarinet and even upright bass occasionally as a session musician. But I was never a pianist, a clarinetist, nor a bassist. I was always a singer.

        G, “I guess I see you as a good time …” I think I saw that on a restroom wall. “For a good time, call 1-800-MOONDOG.

  • Bill Heath says:

    Ziggy, I partially disagree. Yes, climaxing on a high Bb or C can be marvelous, almost orgasmic, and Daron’s reporting indicates that you have both the baritone range and the high tenor range.

    I suggest you listen to some Lanza. What made his soaring into the strosphere of C and D so awesome was the preparation of the listener through use of his powerful middle (baritone) range. It is the contrast between the trough of the wave and the top that makes his work so powerful.

    In this:


    Listen to the powerful baritone of the opening notes. He builds from middle baritone to upper baritone, and after the key shift he’s in the top baritone/middle tenor register, until that glorious (Eb?) that climaxes the final phrase. Had he simply sung a piece transposed upwards, much of the punch would be lost.

    In this:


    if I’m not mistaken, he spends most of the piece in a G to D baritone, and finishes on what my out-of-practice relative pitch hears as a D.

    In this:


    I believe he spends most of his time in the F to D baritone range, and delivers solid Bbs as each segment climaxes, with the final climax probably on a C.

    I’m not suggesting you sing Broadway musicals, nor opera. But, if you have the solid baritone range please don’t ignore it. The power of the wave top, contrasted to the trough, works for all genres. Higher is better, usually only if there is a contrast for the listener to appreciate.

    Just my two cents.

    • ziggy says:

      Oh no worries my dearest there are still plenty of dark low notes
      But thank you for sharing these

  • Janie Friedman says:

    @S Heh. So did I! (Mobile doesn’t allow me to respond to a comment.)

    • s says:

      That’s a very weird quirk on your mobile…

      I’m sure I’m showing my age here, but Damn Yankees was the first Super-group band I remember.

  • Janie Friedman says:

    @s Asia, I think, was my first one, junior or senior year of high school…talk about showing my age…

    The reply thing doesn’t seem to play well with Chrome on Android.

  • G says:

    Daron and Ziggy can reach another level with their collaboration now. I’m excited for this! After Daron comes to grips with his vocal talent, that is.

  • Amber says:

    I could be wrong but I thought in a chat you said Ziggy was a tenor not a baritone. Also you had posted video of singers who were similar. Can you remind me of who the similar singers are?

    • daron says:

      Ziggy is a tenor who has such a wide range he can sing most of the baritone parts, too. Most guys are baritones.

      I’m trying to remember who I posted in that chat… Adam Lambert has the range though you really don’t get the fireworks from him until his live recordings. I have been pushing Jesse Clegg for a while as sounding really close to Ziggy though. Check this song out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B62mB_xoVpI

      • Amber says:

        Jesse Clegg is who you had posted before that I couldn’t remember. Thanks.

        • daron says:

          Which reminds me it’s time to start looking to see if he has a new album coming anytime soon. His dad’s on tour in the US right now but I was on the road when he came through here.

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