*originally published in Sound Waves Magazine August 2017
Sometimes at gigs we get requests. This is a given. We are there to entertain, and it’s kind of our job to give the people what they want. However, there are some songs that churn my stomach for reasons I can’t explain. It’s difficult to pry my mouth open to sing them. My responses to these types of requests include:
“Oh sorry, we don’t know it.” – THAT’S A LIE. WE CAN LOOK UP THE CHORDS ON OUR PHONES.
“Oh sorry, I can’t sing that high.” – THAT’S A LIE. WE CAN CHANGE THE KEY.
“Oh sorry, I couldn’t do it justice” – THAT’S A LIE. IT CHURNS MY STOMACH.
But sometimes, due to circumstances beyond my control (ALL CIRCUMSTANCES ON THE PLANET), songs I despise do indeed vomit from my mouth.
Here’s how a recent scenario went down:
We were doing a gig at a lovely outside venue by the beach, and everything was hunky-dory. A couple hours in, a tipsy jolly older gentleman with a huge wad of black curly hair approached me.
“Young lady, if yous please, play moosting salad for moi.”
“What the heck are you saying?” I asked as politely as I could.
“Please play moosting salad!”
A woman who was desperately trying to keep him from falling by holding onto his arms said, “He wants to hear Mustang Sally!”
“Oh, not possible, sorry. We don’t know it.”
“I vill give you one hundred dollars to play moosting salad!” the inebriated man said.
“Sir,” I laughed, “There’s not enough money in the world for us to play that.”
“Then I vill give you shots! Lots of shots! I vill be right back.”
Filled with dread and with a sinkhole in my stomach I turned around and yelled to the guys, “There’s no way I’m singing Mustang Sally! I will die first!”
The guitar player, amused by the proposition, started playing the opening lick. Such a show-off! The bass player yelled, “What key?!” and started hammering away. The drummer got a beat going. The sax player added some lovely tasteful fills.
I had been had.
I let the intro go on and on for what seemed an eternity because I was determined not to sing the most wretched over-played song of all time. I looked out at the ocean. I dreamed of brighter days. I wished with all my might that I could get the heck out of there.
Then the tray of shots arrived. Tequila I think. I drank four. I think I WAS actually determined to kill myself. Since I had been paid, I assumed it was now time to deliver.
Now that I think about it – couldn’t I have just encouraged the crowd to sing the song karaoke style? You know, everybody sing it but me? But no. Hindsight is 20/20. Could have, would have, should have, blah blah blah.
I sang the first line. The crowd went ballistic. The song went on excruciatingly for ten minutes. I am not proud of these ten minutes. I was singing (well…barking) the same thing over and over and over. Was I dead yet?
But alas, this is why we do it right? For the roar of the crowd? The happy faces? The drunken stupors?
We all survived the night somehow and the next morning when I opened my phone, there were the lyrics: “Ride Sally Ride…” UGH! KILL ME!