A question for Richard, but also for any singer here. I don't know if I ever mentioned it but I also sing in public, except that when I do it, someone generally lodges a disturbing the peace complaint.
I've always sung, and I've always written songs, and poems that turn into songs. And there were a few questionable and ill-fated band experiments, but I seem to have latched on to something fairly decent with some good friends now. When I sing something very personal I am mostly able to control my emotions during the song, but there are definitely songs I cannot sing because they will make me burst into tears. Which wasn't always the case. However as I get older, I find that's now a problem. Or I might be able to sing part of a song, but when I get to a certain verse then it just turns into a weepy mess. Not super conducive to performing. It's difficult to detach from the emotions without making the song sound flat and insincere. So what I wind up doing is avoiding some songs altogether. How do you deal with this?
On a related note, how do you decide which songs you're completely done with live? For me, it's that I already worked through the issues or emotions or whatever it is that made me write the song in the first place, so while I can still be satisfied with the existence of a song, I no longer feel the need to sing it. And in fact it can be actually uncomfortable to sing something I've written when I'm just over it. Or if singing it brings up past unpleasantries and I don't want them swirling around in my head. I don't have a crowd of people clamoring for it, mind you, but I am occasionally asked why I don't sing a certain song anymore. And I want to say that it belongs to a certain period of time and that time has passed, but that sounds really douchey, so I just say that I don't trust my voice with it or something.
This just came up last weekend, so I was wondering what your perspective is on that kind of situation. Richard especially is not the "just play the hits" kind of performer, and I can see that you take songs out of rotation live, so as to press forward. Are there things you wish you could sing, but you just don't anymore because it's just too much? I know sometimes people just get bored as shit of performing the same songs over and over, they're not exciting anymore. I don't have that problem, you see, because I am not an in-demand rockstar.
This is kind of the same thing I have where I can't read certain poems or books out loud without breaking down, without frightening the children I'm reading to. If I'm ever able to get through The Giving Tree or the last chapter of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane without losing it, it's a banner day.