Last night one of my local churches ran an Open Mic Night. For those not in the know, it means an evening where anyone can turn up and perform. Karaoke was available for non-musicians, or else we were expected to bring our own instruments. I chose the karaoke machine.
The turn out was not large, but at least one professional musician/singer was there. He was a keyboard player/singer who performs at functions around Sydney and even down to Canberra.
As you may remember, one of this year’s goals was to learn six 1980s songs to performance level. My first selection was “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John. I’ve always had a thing for his music.
The first person up was a music teacher. He brought his guitar, sidled up to the microphone and started to play. The tune was instantly recognisable: American Pie. Soon most of us were humming or singing along. He had picked the crowd well, we were all older guys. Such a tune brought back memories.
Next was the professional. Funnily enough, I cannot remember what he played. I do know that it was boppy and fun and that his voice was so much better than his predecessor’s.
Jon (the MC) then pointed at me. Jon and I knew each other well and he had warned me off my choice. But I was a stubborn man and did not like being told not to try something.
I stood and made my way to the microphone. Despite having memorised the lyrics, I brought along a lyric sheet with the words in large type because of my poor eyesight.
Jon mimed whether I was ready. I nodded.
The music started. Immediately I fumbled the words. I mean immediately. Very first line. I forgot the words.
I held up my hand and asked for the music to start again. Jon complied.
This time I used the lyric sheet, feeling like a damn fool for doing so.
And I sang the song through, only fumbling one word about halfway through. However, by the end, the audience had lost interest. To be honest, I don’t blame them. As I sang it dawned on me that my voice did not suit the song. It’s funny, but I had not recognised this as I practiced at home. It was only with a microphone powering my tones around the large hall that I got the sense of mismatch. My voice was too deep to do the song justice.
I crept off stage.
A few more others took the microphone and eventually there was a food break. I told Nicole (my wife) that we would go. I had work the next day and was feeling a bit down about my performance.
As luck would have it, Jon saw me getting ready to leave and invited me to sing again. But this time, one of my old standards from when he and I used to sing together. I chose an Elvis song: Can’t Help Falling in Love.
Again I approached the microphone. The audience was ignoring me.