Our team at Shine magazine was blown away by the chance to interview international rock star and lead singer of The Who, Roger Daltrey. Two years ago, he came to Methodist Dallas Medical Center struggling with a raspy voice and found the solutions he needed from Rajiv Pandit, MD, otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon on the hospitalâs medical staff.
The day of my interview with Roger, family and friends asked me how the interview went. As I tried to share with everyone my takeaways from that 30-minute across-the-pond phone call, I realized my responses had less to do with the throat and vocal cords and more to do with life in general â finding balance, prioritizing wellness, doing what you love.
Beyond the chat about hoarseness and high notes, I had gotten caught up in Rogerâs passion for music, life, and performing. I thought you might appreciate his enthusiasm and wisdom as well. Here are seven life lessons pulled from our conversation.
- Remember that you are human.
âSingers tend to push too hard and work too hard just from the sheer joy of music and trying to put the attitude it needs into the music,â Roger says. âYou tend to forget that youâre human.â
Itâs so easy to get wrapped up in things, both good and bad. It could be our careers, our families, a hobby, even a fitness routine. But sometimes we push ourselves too much and put stresses on our bodies, minds, and emotions that are more than we can handle. At some point, you have to have a reckoning and reevaluate what is healthy, safe, and possible â and if itâs not, have a positive attitude as you move on from one thing and on to the next.
- Worry less.
When Roger first started experiencing voice problems eight years ago, he was 64 and began to wonder what his future might look like.
âI had to think, âHow long could I go on for anyway? What can I do about it? If they can solve it, great. If not, Iâll have to go back to being a painter and a decorator,ââ he quipped. But more seriously, he continued: âI never really worried about it; worrying doesnât help anything. What will be will be.â
- Listen to your body.
From Rogerâs perspective, this includes seeking help when something is wrong. He was disheartened by how many people suffer from health issues, especially when it comes to the voice, because they never sought help while they could.
âLike everything else in medicine, if a patient is aware of any kind of problem in the speaking voice, go and have your cords checked,â he says. âSo much can be done early, and if itâs not corrected then, it can become a big problem.â
When you are sick, do what it takes to get well. Heâs learned this lesson from the times heâs tried to sing with a cold.
âIâve learned that when you get a cold, just shut up and be quiet for a few weeks,â he says.
- Warm up and cool down.
For Roger this applied to his singing voice, but it applies to working out any muscle.
âDr. Pandit advised me to keep my voice warm before I used it and cool it down when Iâm finished â a bit like an athlete,â he says. âSingers have to think like athletes with their voices.â
- Do what you were meant to do the way you were meant to do it.
Roger says singing had been his life since childhood, when he sang in the church choir.
âThe impact of getting my voice out was one of the most natural things in the world,â he says. âThere was never of choice I would be a singer; it was whether or not I would be a successful singer. To do that, you have to hang on to yourself and create your own style. You have to create a voice that has character, that can be identified as you.â
- Judge your success by how you affect others.
Roger says the key to singing is not what youâre singing, but how youâre singing it.
âThe whole thing about singing is the expression â not just singing notes â and expression of the word,â he says. âHowever you get that out, if you can move people with that, then youâre succeeding.â
The same could be said of other areas of our lives. We can say and do the right things, but people really know we care by the way we say and do them. As Maya Angelou said, âI’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.â
- Look out for others.
In our busy world, people donât always realize when someone else is in need. Rogerâs own health experiences have prompted him to speak up for others.
âWhenever Iâm in the company of someone with a raspy voice, I always ask if theyâve had their vocal cords checked,â he says.
You might notice a health issue in a friend, family member, or spouse far more easily than they will. Itâs important to not let that slide.