Main Street Nashville

Jack McCall: Even whistling is music to my ears


I sang in a choir Sunday. The production was months in the making.

The choral director, Robert B. Thurman, is a longtime friend. He and my wife, Kathy, share the same birthday and the same middle name. He and I go back a long way. He and Kathy go back a longer way. They sang together in a youth group called Good News in the 60s.

Robert, and our late friend Jere Sinquefield and I sang together in a trio in the 80s and 90s. Because we sang a lot of Gatlin Brothers songs, we called ourselves the Gallatin Brothers. We could have settled for the name The Banker, The Dentist, and Me. Both were more talented than I. You might say I went along for the ride. I have never really enjoyed singing solo but put me in a trio or quartet or choir and I am right at home.

Sunday afternoon at First Presbyterian Church in Gallatin brought a number of wonderful singers together. Many of us had sung together in community choruses throughout the years. It was great to be a part of folks coming together from many different churches and backgrounds to join in singing some of the great songs of the church.

A music ensemble of brass, woodwinds, and percussion enhanced the power of the choral arrangements. And the church was almost filled.

We sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” “America The Beautiful,” “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” “The Midnight Cry,” “Homeward Bound” and many other classics. Members of the congregation were lavish in their applause. There is no place I would rather have been.

Sometimes we are afforded the privilege of being “seated together in heavenly places.”

But alas, the day had a bitter sweetness about it for me. This choral production was a part of Mr. Thurman’s “year of retirement.” His success through the years has been a result of his applied talent, determination and a talent pool from which he easily drew. I fear there will not be another one like him to come along in our lifetime.

Congregations are aging and that places congregational singing at great risk. High school choruses are becoming fewer and further between. As a people, we are simply singing less.

Someone has said, “We do not sing because we are happy, we are happy because we sing.” Speaking of singing, there is nothing so uplifting as “hearing the rafters ring.” Some of my readers know of what I am writing here.

And singing goes right along with whistling. Have you, by chance, noticed hardly anyone whistles anymore? I am not talking about a loud,  piercing whistle to sound a warning or get attention. I am speaking of whistling a happy tune.

I am a whistler myself. I guess I come from a long line of whistlers. My grandfather, D.T. McCall, was an avowed whistler. As a boy, when I went looking for him at the feed barn, I would hear him before I laid eyes on him. He was always whistling.

Family members would attest to the fact he whistled nothing specific. It was more of a little ditty – same tune, over and over again.

Not too long ago I found myself whistling a tune as I boarded a plane. The person in front of me turned and snarled, “What are you in such a good mood about?” I was taken aback a bit. It took a few seconds to answer.

“Oh, sorry, sir,” I responded. “I’m not whistling because I’m in a good mood. I’m just working on one.”

Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, Southern storyteller and author.  A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a “Certified Speaking Professional.” He can be reached at Copyright 2023 by Jack McCall.