Hearing Voices

You’re listening to a program. The guy talking, he’s the guy from–

The mind freezes and the name flies away from your synapses. You keep hearing the voice and it keeps sounding familiar, but you can’t place him. Shoot. This is annoying. It’s like seeing a familiar face in a movie. That fire of curiosity burns until the waters of an answer douse it and you identify the person. Relief.

Well, this is how my mind works, making connections, figuring out puzzles. It gives me a sense of satisfaction when it’s not driving me nuts.

I started on another layer of identity search recently, the quest to link similar sounding people. Perhaps it’s due to my increased focus on sound since gaining low vision, but I’m also a nerd so it could be my love of regional dialects. (Have you taken the quiz to know your regional dialect? This linguistic nerd recommends it.) I listen to a ton of podcasts, catching interviews and plenty of gab. This builds a mental database of how people sound rather than look, a catalog of tone not faces.

When people sound alike, I search for background links shared by the voices with the power of the internet. It doesn’t always work, but when I find similar hometowns or residences or that the parents of one person emanated from the region of another, I consider my work done. Found you.

My cousin graduated from college this year (congrats!) and I was sorting through commencement speeches. The voice match kicks in as I’m listening to a David Foster Wallace clip…yes, he’s sounding like Edward Norton! Or is it Ethan Hawke. Hmm. No, not quite either of them. But now I’m wondering, are Norton and Hawke both from Illinois or New England? No, they’re not. I’m way off. I listen to DFW some more. I swear, there’s a layer of Nicolas Cage in there.

Another day I’m listening to Wil Wheaton on a recent episode of Aisha Tyler’s Girl on Guy and he says, “kind of a bummer” around the 19:30 mark. My mind races. I’m reminded of…Ira glass? No, no…John Lithgow? No. Keep searching the corners of my brain. Mo Rocca! Yes, Mo Rocca. And, a hint of Bill O’Reilly. It’s a mix.

I think you can find similarities in voices if you listen long enough. If Kevin Bacon connects everyone through roles, who connects everyone universally through voice? Legendary character actor Stephen Tobolowsky? Meryl Streep? Jimmy Fallon? Taking suggestions now.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    As a speech path would….I’ve always relied on listening intently to voices….it’s an art!

    1. Listening is indeed an art.

  2. Casee says:

    One of my favorite habits is hearing a voice in a podcast or radio show and putting together what they look like in my mind. Dark hair or blond? Afro or braids? Slim or portly? I am surprised at how often after inquiring I find out I am pretty close. Of course there are the times when I am so far off the mark it is not even funny! It’s still a fun game to play.

    1. I do that sometimes, too, but I’m almost always way off the actual appearance. It’s fun though.

  3. Britney Lee says:

    that happens to me ALL THE TIME! with peoples’ names and random words. same with songs…i can hear one part and then sing the whole rest of the song but forget the name of the song and band/singer. so annoying!

    1. And of course the friend with you can’t figure out what song you’re singing either and it annoys you until you can google lyrics. At least that’s my typical reality.

      1. Britney Lee says:

        wait so you weren’t commentating my life just now? ugh. i usually can google it no problem unless i don’t remember the words to a song…if i only remember the melody then i’m screwed.

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