For the First Time
I have mentioned before my youthful desire to be a rock star. Somehow, that desire never translated into a passion for learning an actual instrument. Regrets, eh?
Games like Rockband and Guitar Hero allowed me to fulfill small portions of that fantasy-playing well crafted solos, singing favorite songs as loud and off key as I possibly could. I even had the chance to sing to small crowds when I played at parties or with family. Of course, this only gives a tiny glimpse and actually makes me crave it more.
I choose to ignore the negative parts of such fantasy. The endless hours of practice and failure. Weeks, months and sometimes years on the road, singing the same songs over and over, having to be ‘on’ every night for everyone. Instead, I imagine myself on stage, loving every second of performing.
A week or so ago, I went to the VFW with my brother, his wife and some friends to celebrate his birthday. Austen is the youngest and with 12 years between us, we have only become friends as he aged into adulthood. So good to have such a great relationship with family. I don’t spend enough time out with them, especially Austen so it was really great to take the chance, even if it was on karaoke night.
Seriously, the fact it was karaoke night severely impacted my decision. I have never sang in front of anyone I didn’t have some connection with and the thought was frankly, very terrifying. I don’t have a bad voice, just not a well trained one, and I fear its limitations. If it had not been for Austen’s birthday celebration, I would have found an excuse not to go.
Anyone who has been to karaoke night at any VFW knows the score. The bars are so ridiculously dirty and beat down. At this particular location, a sole bartender was doing her best (and failing) to handle the crowd, which was not substantial, just overly thirsty. The fellow running the karaoke was pleasant, funny, could really sing, and seemed to like his job (which I imagine, helps a great deal). Austen instantly was ready to sing and flipped through the book of songs with purpose. I tried to find something, anything I could sing that fit the vocal range I invented in my head. I convinced myself there would be nothing in a low enough range for me, so I would be able to avoid singing.
After a few minutes, flipping through the pages, I decided I was tired of being afraid of this type of thing. The crowd was small enough, I was a grown up, I could sing something. I have been on a David Bowie kick for the last few months and convinced myself he would be a fine choice, out of my range or not. While Austen sang the holy bejeezus out of Behind Blue Eyes (seriously, the old dudes at the bar were entranced), I picked Ziggy Stardust as my virgin attempt.
So many new experiences. Bad stage lighting masked faces, but not voices. Stage monitor returned vocals that actually helped me stay on key. Uncertainty on how to stand, how to move, how to handle a microphone. Funny enough, I loved every minute of it, even though I chose to sing the Bauhaus cover version, which I like better.
After the song was over, I knew I was hooked. I could have sang again and again right then, right there. Any song I knew would have been find, regardless of if I could actually sing it or not. Unfortunately, the crowd kept growing and the list of those wanting to play along got longer.
A few hours later, Austen and I sang a duet. We both wanted to sing Cumbersome (which is such a great karaoke song) and while he was willing to let me do it alone, I wanted to sing it with him. We rocked it (in my humble yet correct opinion)!
I know this silly karaoke night is just that, but I had such a great time. I should do things like this more often, despite my old man complex and homebody mentality.
What would be epic-A Carty brothers night at the microphone. The world would never be the same.