Friday, November 13, 2015

Billy Joel and Kermit the Frog

My throat hurt a little. As I made my way across the room, I sensed I had wasted my opportunity.

I had first selected a Beatles song for my debut as a karaoke singer. I listened to several who went before me, hoping they would all fall down. But a couple were good, maybe even more than that. I worried about my song choice, fearing it was not upbeat enough.

"Are you Robert?"  The young girl approached, unsure if she had picked out the right face in the crowd. I nodded. "I am sorry but the song you picked was used earlier." It was karma. I would now be butchering a Billy Joel classic.

I began to zone out a little, nervously contemplating that I would be unable to recall how the scrolling words related to the music. And then the far too enthusiastic MC called out "Next we have Robert from New York." Somehow I had decided that this crowd of almost all Americans in Mexico would not have heard of my home state of  New Jersey.

There was momentary enthusiasm from the group of 10 or so of my friends who were sitting with me, some in more than a slightly altered state of being.  I had been waiting all of my life for this moment, convinced that those who made fun of my singing, one noting that I reminded her of Kermit the Frog, would be proven wrong.

And so, with several hundred mostly inebriated eyes upon me, I steadied myself as the band played the opening chords.

"Friday night I said I'm sorry. Saturday I said..." It had begun.

I could not stray too far as I had seemingly forgotten all the lyrics, my eyes fixed upon the screen reminding me of the next word. I knew I was singing all in my throat, in my best imitation of Kermit, but I was powerless to do anything about it.

I didn't dare look out at the crowd for fear I would lose my place with the scrolling phrases. And so I couldn't reel them in with my charisma, my magnetism. Most, I am sure, lost interest by the second verse. The most inebriated ones didn't even last that long.

But, as the seconds ticked on, I grew more comfortable. The song began to resonate in my brain. I started to wander left and then right, Mick Jagger like. And then I turned my back to the crowd and locked eyes with the young female singer with the band.

"You may be right. I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for." This was more like it. This was hot.

And then it was over. Suddenly my time fretting and strutting upon the stage was no more. I walked back to my seat to the sound of tepid applause. My career was off to a rocky start.

"You were really good." What else was my wife supposed to tell me? From my posse there were a few "rockin" or the equivalent, but within seconds I was just one invisible face among many.
"I think the mic was too far from you most of the time. It was a little hard to hear you." So, it seemed I had been moving my lips but,  for those more than a few feet away, virtually no sound was emanating.

It turned out that one of my friends had videoed this debacle, at least most of it. And if one listens very closely, the sounds of Kermit the Frog can be heard. Indistinct but unmistakably Kermit. But no back turning, harmonizing with my back up singer. Mercifully, for history's sake, there is no recorded image of that portion of my performance.

With wounded pride and small damage to my vocal chords, my evening as a rock legend has passed. Maybe next time I will do better.  I know I can sing the crap out of "Yesterday." Just be sure to sit near. Or maybe not.

1 comment:

Nancy Leeds said...