What if this life is a gift? What if nothing about living matters other than living? Could it possibly be as easy and free as the highly unlikely occurrence of an organic pile of this, that and the other drawing breath then letting loose with a mouth full of song?
Imagine the sweetness, the levity, the beloved state of whatever we were when we were glow balls in the shoot, about to drop into this world. Uncompetitive, vibrant, enough as is, and ready to rock.
Every now and then that is my experience when I karaoke. I just show up and let it rip and sometimes I am amazed at what happens. Sometimes.
More often than not, I worry and fret about whether the song I want to sing is going to go over well, or I end up following a woman in sweats and socks-with-crocks who turns out to be capable of blowing Etta James off the stage. One unfortunate evening, I got stuck with a bad, bad karaoke mix that was a key lower than the original and had strange lyrics in the middle where a bridge would be if the song had a bridge, which it doesn’t! (Warning, warning, don’t sing Echo & The Bunnymen’s version of Killing Moon at The Mel-o-dee Lounge in El Ceritto -- it’s the brown acid of karaoke.) When I asked the KJ if this was a joke and what was happening with the song, he said he’d never ever heard it before and clearly didn’t like me or the song.
My friend, Marissa, got me into Karaoke a couple of years ago. Having been a musician for much of my life, I didn’t think I would like karaoke. I thought I was too good to karaoke. When it comes to music, I have a lot of opinions and when I have a performance, I practice until I feel like I know what I’m doing. Drunken bastardizations along with synthesized guitar solos are not my favorite. But you know what, joy for living is. Watching people go for it taps into that original sweet essence, where just showing up buoys the spirit. And the karaoke community is very encouraging. Participate and you become part of the family. When I flip through the songbook and a song finds me, I feel total excitement. My friend inspires me with her fearlessness. She attempts all genres, extremely challenging vocals, sometimes goes by herself, and even sings duets with strangers! She also lets me borrow her readers when I forget my glasses.
Tomorrow afternoon we are having our second annual karaoke party at The Mel-o-dee Lounge in El Ceritto. Last year’s theme was easy-listening 70s. This year it’s Fast Times in El Cerrito.
As much as I fear looking silly -- a middle-aged lady singing the songs of her youth -- I want to remember to just show up and have fun. Be a glow ball in an off the shoulder sweatshirt and mesh gloves. Last year was a blast. This year will be too and you’re all invited. Oh won’t you karaoke with me?