A Note from Colin Meloy:
I have a heavy, heavy heart writing this. Because of my voice loss, we’ve been forced to cancel or reschedule the next five shows of this tour. I’m so, so sorry to those of you who were attending concerts we were unable to reschedule. I know how much it sucks to have a show cancel on you. I don’t know what to say other than: we’ll return to your area in the future, and we’ll put on a great show.
What’s been happening over the last nearly two weeks is the stuff of a singer’s nightmare. I don’t know what started it or what particular events conspired to create this perfect storm of voice strain — at the beginning of this tour leg I was feeling healthy and excited about the upcoming shows. Allergies? Altitude? Midwestern dryness? Whatever it was, it created a situation in my larynx that could not withstand the rigors of our particular tour schedule. My voice started leaving me in Toronto and I just never got enough rest on the days off to bounce back; it would get a little better after a few days rest, only to buckle again after a couple shows.
During these last two weeks, I’ve seen five doctors in three states. Three ENTs, a speech pathologist and a laryngologist. I desperately wanted to get well. I desperately wanted to do these shows.
I love singing. As a shy kid, discovering my singing voice was like breaking free of a clay that surrounded me. I cannot describe to you the sort of despondency I feel when I lose it. Not only is it robbed from me, but it’s robbed from this band. It makes everything jutter to a stop. I tried to just put my head down and do the shows, but I was beginning to feel more and more that we were shortchanging you, the fans, the audience. We were doing shorter sets, we were dropping songs that had me singing at too high of a range for too long. Then when my voice started failing, we just kept going. But we were doing everyone who came to shows a disservice. We were not meeting the standards of what I like to think is a pretty high bar for a Decemberists show.
The good news? While the first ENT thought he saw nodules on my vocal folds, I’m happy to report that that diagnosis was overturned by the three subsequent scopers. The consensus was fatigue, strain and irritation of the vocal folds. Nothing that can’t be healed with vocal exercise. I just need rest.
This is also a great wake up call for me. Clearly gone are the days where I can just leap on stage, bottle of wine in hand, and start belting out high Ds & Es for two hours straight after the most desultory of warmups. I have been working with professionals to develop a new tour regimen that will help my voice withstand the rigors of tour. Warmups and diet, being conscientiousness about my voice use between shows — all part of a constellation of things I can do.
Thanks to all of you who sent kind words via social media — and the kids who wrote get well notes at the shows. Thanks to everyone who might’ve been at one of the shows where my voice was not behaving. In those circumstances, I have to close my eyes to sing — I find myself fighting feelings of real dread at what is coming out of my throat. But on the occasion that I did open them, seeing a crowd of supportive and smiling people was a gift. Thank you.
I’m gonna get better, and I’ll be out there braying away in no time.