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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/action/view/entry_id/862726
Rated: GC · Book · Personal · #2002599
My fourth blog. Amazing yet disconcerting. Don't worry; this'll go away in a year or so.
#862726 added October 12, 2015 at 10:11pm
Restrictions: None
This one's about karaoke night.


*Mic* "Karaoke Party Playlist: You're up on mic. What are you singing?"

Good evening friends...I have a confession to make that will surprise none of you who have been reading for any length of time anything I've typed up for the internet. When I saw this prompt, it brought me instant and immense joy (for you see, sometimes I am very easily pleased and amused).

How the internet works in a positive way, briefly.


I have quite an extensive history with karaoke.

But that's not to say I can actually sing. No bullshit; I can't. I'm terrible. For someone with esteem issues in abundance and a profound level of humility that often stunts my willingness to toot my own horn over pretty much everything, I can probably name at least 1,656 things I'm better at than using my voice in any combination of melody, tone, vibration, harmony, and rhythm. Seriously. But for some reason, unlike everything else I'm really bad at, that doesn't seem to stop me. If I should find myself in a bar with open, live mics, you can bet your last dollar I'll breeze my way up in front of them. And I always swear I won't make an ass outta myself, but if you had a second last dollar you could bet that too.

It started a long, long time ago. I used to live within walking distance of a place called Razzberries (this was back when it was "cool" to swap the letter S for Z, or drop the E from "extreme" to prove how X-treme you were). We found out that they had karaoke on Monday nights, so we went to check it out to see what it was like (and we needed an excuse to get hammered on a Monday night).

The place had a really nice set-up for a bar that sounded like it was named for a strip club or after a stripper. You walked in and the bar was on the right, on the left was an outdoor patio, and just past that there were stairs that led to a downstairs seating area...and halfway between floors was a large landing that was sorta, I guess, barely big enough to be a stage. Many a Monday night was spent right there on that spot, shredding vocal cords and making Tuesday mornings nearly impossible to tolerate at work.

From there, once the Razz was shut down or almost burned down or however these things go down in the bar world, we moved over to the Garden Park Cafe (GPC for short). The only draw to that place, as far as I know now for at least the last 10 years and probably a lot longer), is that they have karaoke seven nights a week. They, like, advertise that shit. And before you even ask "Who sings karaoke on a Tuesday night??", I will ask you to please consider that you're reading my blog, and I've made questionable life choices at times.

I was hangin' out with a bunch of guys known as the J-Bag$, and I won't claim to know the full origins of the moniker nor will I admit to being anything but an honorary J-Bag, because that was my understanding. And they knew people who knew people, and that's where we ended up on many occasions. Very often. You could walk in to GPC on any night of the week and find at least a couple of us there. It got to the point that...you know those dry erase boards that the drink specials in bars or restaurants are written on with neon pens and blacklit? GPC's board no longer read anything but J-Bag$, and whatever consecutive numbered day we were on that our presence was known...sorta like how your job might have a poster that says "No workplace accidents in (x) days." It became a challenge...a week turned into a month, a month turned into 50 days, 50 turned into a hundred, etc. I don't know when the streak stopped, to tell you the truth...I stopped going for a variety of reasons, but I've ducked in there once or twice in the last couple of years, and outside of maybe a bartender or two, I haven't recognized anyone.

But how ridiculous is that? Somehow, some combination of a bunch of the same people went to the same place every freakin' day, drank beers, played darts, and sang karaoke. Granted, there might be nights where only one or two of us showed up long enough for a beer, a song, and to change the number on the board, but there were far more nights we'd keep the place open until 2 or 3 am. Outstanding, I know. Some people in their 20's and 30's settle down, buy houses, have kids...some of us did not. Some people spend money collecting stuff to put on shelves just to gather dust, or do elaborate things to cars, or go on weekend trips and vacations often. We...mostly did not. We...partied. Pretty much daily. Singing karaoke. We knew everyone...bouncers, bartenders, barbacks, DJ's, other regular customers. We were like rock stars of this kinda shitty little place. I stopped at a gas station one night for a pack of smokes and the guy behind the counter was like "I know you...<thinks for a minute> J-Bag$!! Are you going to Garden Park tonight?" and I just kinda smiled uncomfortably, but in my head I was like "Wow...this shit's outta hand."

So yeah...I spent too much of my late 20's and early 30's singing terribly into a microphone in front of friends and strangers. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I have a wide repertoire of songs in my karaoke arsenal, should I ever feel compelled to knock the dust off my pipes and feel the rush once more. What I lack in talent and shame I can make up for in drunken stupidity and raw energy, which I somehow proved on my 40th birthday a few months ago (see "This one's about Perseid, the future, and fortune telling.). I'm no longer an everyday power, but I can still hold my own when called upon in spot duty. Here are ten songs that will appear on my Greatest Hits collection, long after the memories have faded...I had to limit myself to the first ten I could think of; otherwise, I never would've gotten around to typing this up. And don't forget to tip your bartenders and your DJ's.

From The Simpsons.


1) "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" by The Beatles   I've always preferred to start nights off slowly, and quietly. When the bar's half-empty and the night's beginning, it makes no sense to shoot all your bullets early. I'd sit on the barstool and mellow out...plus, this is a short song, so it makes for a nice warm-up. And at some point during my crazed karaoke years, Eddie Vedder covered this for a movie soundtrack, which was nice.

2) "Plush" by Stone Temple Pilots   Some great singers have three distinct levels to their voices: the deep, rich part; their normal-sounding voice; and either a super falsetto or a gritty wailing screamy kinda thing. Axl Rose is one, and Scott Weiland from STP has one. I...do not, but I can definitely hit the low notes. I was in my school's chorus from 7th-10 grades, and had one of the lowest voices. Amazing that in four years of training, one bout of the flu wiped out all my range for good when I was a junior. But that's neither here nor there...this song is great because a good crowd will clap along to it, and a clapping audience almost always masks how shitty you sound *Wink*.

3) "Float On" by Modest Mouse   I don't care who you are; this song is ridiculously hard to sing. Try it. Here are the lyrics  . I'm convinced it's almost impossible even for people who are really good singers. Side note: Am I the only one who thinks sometimes people with really nice singing voices sound like total shit during certain songs? I don't think there's a metric for it or anything, but, like, you know people who can sing the shit outta opera music but sound like hot garbage during any Bon Jovi song, yet they sing it every week?? Huh...now I know what it must've been like listening to me all those years, minus the opera talent.

4) "Clint Eastwood" by Gorillaz   Back in the early days of my Razzberries experience, I had a roommate. And said roommate used to have to convince me that going out on a Monday night was a good idea. He was definitely a mama's boy and I have no idea what would get into him on Mondays that made him want to go out so much on them, but I usually did it just to shut him up. I think he was convinced that singing karaoke was gonna get him laid (it did not). He liked singing predictable shit, like Billy Joel and classic rock and he'd name something and we'd laugh 'cuz I thought he'd be joking, and then he'd put in a slip for it and sing and I'd just stare at him like "You gotta be shittin' me" and the only people that would care about what he sang were the 53-year-old chicks that couldn't admit to themselves they no longer looked 24. It was unfortunate and funny, and he was no better singer than I was, but he really put his heart into it and once in awhile he'd come up with a good idea, like "Clint Eastwood". The sucky part is that I'd actually sounded ok singing the chorus, but he was too pussy to rap Del The Funky Homosapien's parts, so I'd have to rip up the mic and blow him off the stage area. It's not braggin' if you can back it up.

5) "I Try" by Macy Gray   Sometimes, there's just nothing better than watching a dude who can't sing get all into a song normally sang by a chick, but he's doing it in a way that isn't like he's a drag queen in the making or anything. Secret's out...I love this song. And I think it's sexy. And I feel sexy when I sing it. Even if it looks like the least sexiest thing goin'. Having a deep singing voice at times really pays off.

6) "So What'cha Want" by the Beastie Boys   I know this is sorta cheating, and I don't care if I've told this story billions of times...once more isn't gonna ruin it. I've never done this at karaoke before. But for Christmas one year, I bought my ex's kids Rockband for their Xbox. Ok, that's a lie. I say I bought it for them, but it was more for me. Reason #15,893 why I'm a shitty person. But I'll tell you what...I have never not nailed this song. Ever. Doing all three parts, solo. I'm a beast (again, not braggin'). GPC only had "Hey Ladies", which is mad hard to do and usually turns into a mess with three people, let alone by yourself. But "So What'cha Want"? Flawless.

7) "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard   Sometimes it's not about how well you sing, but what kind of show you put on. And I could probably count on one hand the number of times I've rocked this, but the true test of knowing when I'm shitfaced at karaoke is me requesting this and strutting like I'm actually in an 80's hair band, like I'm some sorta David Lee Roth/Steven Tyler hybrid who just stepped off the emo bus into 1986. I'm 5'6" tall and I'm pretty sure I have no business ever dancing with a microphone stand while freakin' chicks I don't even know who have prolly left their middle school daughters home alone on a Friday night so they could have too many shots and get loud when someone sings along to something they danced to at their prom. Contrary to popular belief, there are some mornings when it's ok to wake up alone and still consider yourself lucky.

8) "Faith" by Limp Bizkit   Everyone has phases in their lives they'd like to take back, or at least mildly regret. Limp Bizkit is mine, and thankfully I didn't have to go through it alone. I had a friend that would come up and do this with me all the time at Razzberries, and because we were like 25 back then, we thought we were hilarious...see, the DJ didn't have "Faith" by Limp Bizkit; he had George Michael's version. So we'd put in for it, and then slay like the assholes we were trying to emulate. And somehow, people would look forward to it. And somehow, we would deliver. I almost feel a little gross, typing this now. Oh, the things we did as kids for fun *Rolleyes*.

9) "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond   Look, I know it's cheesy...and if you go out to karaoke 100 times, you'll probably hear someone singing this at least 97 of those nights. But it's a great song, and everyone sings along, so it's fun. It's a nice way to end a night. And when I sing it, ok, it's obvious that at many places, in the chorus after Neil gets through with "Sweeeeeet Car-o-line", the crowd goes "dah-dah-dahhh", but with me, after the line "Good times never seemed so good", my crowd would shout "So good! So good! So good!" That's what happens when you're a professional out on the circuit.

10) "Don't Look Back In Anger" by Oasis   My signature closing number. Last call at the bar, the house lights have come on, and it's almost time to go home (probably 'cuz you have to be at work in five or six hours). Or, sometimes I would drop a $20 in the DJ's tip jar so I could do my own set of four or five songs, have a few drinks, and get home early. Regardless, this was often my final number; a reminder, if you will, that this night should best be remembered fondly. Hey, it's karaoke, not the Grammys. You get what you pay for.

I'm so glad I could talk about this...it feels good to just get it all out there in the open. No surprises. If you ever catch me singing to my reflection in the mirror, I promise it isn't because I want to leave you for a younger version of me. It's just another last trip down memory lane for this ol' washed up lounge act. Thank you...you folks have been a great audience! My name is Norb, and I'm available for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and threesomes. Peace, I guess it would be nice, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!


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