I was at karaoke at Nico’s in Little Italy last Saturday night. After hearing and seeing me perform two songs a young woman told me I had a gift. I didn’t know how to respond at first. Eventually, I said an old girlfriend many years ago (when I was young) played piano and she plunked out several notes and had me sing the notes. She seemed amazed that my range was three and a half octaves. (Frank Sinatra supposedly had a two or a two and a half octave vocal range.) But I don’t think the young woman last Saturday night at karaoke was talking only about my vocal range.
Since last Saturday night, I’ve had time to think about what she meant.
Sure, I sing in tune with power or in a whisper (always from the diaphragm) when I need to. But what she was talking about was the fact that I put in the time to memorize the lyrics so I don’t have to look at the monitor but can concentrate on the audience; that sometimes I throw the cordless mike back and forth between my hands without looking at the mike or my hands; that I stumble and weave back and forth in front of the audience as if pushed about by the music; that I mimic the phraseology of a David Coverdale or an Eric Burdon or a Jim Morrison or a Joe Cocker; that to emphasize a dramatic moment I may lay the mike down on a table top and scoop it up in the air with my right hand and catch it on the way down with my left hand; that I seem to effortlessly summon up a sustained scream when I need one (not always but most of the time).
What she really meant is that all the hours that I put in on deep breathing and stretching exercises and practicing the mannerisms and body language of my karaoke persona before I ever pick up a mike on Saturday night is paying off…
And when the DJ calls me up to sing, if I’m not only good but also lucky, the singer and the audience become a living, breathing community on the same exciting journey for the length of a song.
I plan to be at karaoke at Nico’s in Little Italy tonight. I hope that I’m good. And I hope that I’m lucky. One time I didn’t catch the mike. How embarrassing!
This is Guy Hogan reporting for the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette.
Today in Pittsburgh there will be more clouds than sunshine and the high will be around 55.
Hail to Pitt!