I’m With The Band

Before we left the States, I fulfilled a lifelong yearning – to sing in a rock band. Ok, so not exactly a real rocking rock-in-roll band. It’s these two guys who live in Morrisville, one who works with my husband – Tolga and his buddy Ross. They play mostly 70’s and 80’s covers.  You know, the singable stuff that we cranked on our boom boxes in high school (Duran Duran, the Eagles, Eric Clapton,etc).

So, apparently they’d been wanting to mix it up a little and bring in a non-professional for a stint. That would be me.  Mac had been nudging me and I eventually said yes when he told me one of the guy’s 4-year-old had sung on stage the previous weekend.  OK, I can do this.

The band plays at an Italian restaurant in Morrisville, in a shopping center popular with the suburban set. Parents, glad for a night out not having to cook, middle school soccer players celebrating after a game, friendly folk, non-judgemental.  And it’s a loud enough joint that diners can easily tune out the racket on stage.

What to sing?  Something ballady, not too hard edged.  And since Tolga has a really nice voice, a duet: I’ll be Stevie Nicks and he can be Tom Petty. It being Valentines’s Day, let’s do “Stop Draggin My Heart Around,” nice and romantic.

I had really wanted to do “Landslide,” but I think that number sort of scared my bandmates. A little too much middle-aged bleating? Too dark? Well, gee, you guys got to do R.E.M., but whatever.

We practiced twice at Ross’s house. He told me he’s a Human Relations Supervisor (stay-at-home-dad) and he has this great converted office room, with all the instruments, mics, amps and everything for his passion, music. And he’s really pretty good.  The guys put their iPads right on their stands to adjust the key as well as to read the lyrics as they play. Everything’s so modern, so digital. Cool.  But I’d memorized my song, it was only about 2 verses.  I don’t need your fancy props, boys, I’m old school – a natural.

Well, we went through a couple of songs, and I felt surprisingly relaxed.  I dreaded that I might get that washcloth in the throat feeling when you start out singing, you know, like you’re being abruptly suffocated. Seriously, singing is even harder than public speaking because the audience can tell immediately if you’re shaky. And if you hear it too, it just gets worse, you’re cooked. No, I just needed to not listen too closely to myself and loosen up.

So, after the first try Mac said “it needs to be angrier.”  Hmm.  Not sure about that.  Is Stevie Nicks truly angry? He’s thinking of Pat Benatar. And the mic was a challenge: I wanted to stand and sing into it like on YouTube, but they said to hold it, but that felt like American Idol and that way really forced me to hear myself.  No, I’ll stand.

Anyway, practice was super fun, a bit like acting, but in a more visceral way, completely vulnerable.  But man, I’m 52 and how old are these guys anyway – 25?  I can BE Stevie Nicks, dammit.  Old, world weary, a bit used, dried up, downtrodden – Stevie didn’t give a crap. Confident, even when her guy is being a real asshole.  Yep, I can do this.

Valentine’s weekend arrives, along with a “blizzard” in NC  [insert laughter]. But, hey, I really have to be safe, right?  The roads are wicked. Don’t want to die for this.  I can pull out of my gig, the boys won’t mind, they’d probably be relieved, I’m sure.  No, you gotta go, Mac says, it’s an obligation.  He got me into this,dammit. I hate him. Let him do it, he thinks it’s so easy.

Arriving early, with no reservations, we had to wait, even after Mac told the hostess that I was a singer with the band – embarrassing.  But later, after a boatload of antipasto, I went on stage.  I felt great, except for mumbling through a whole verse I forgot (give me your damn iPad, Ross). I really rocked it. I didn’t even really register the crowd’s response, but it didn’t matter.  I was so proud of myself.

And watching my husband over there at the front table beaming, I was thrilled that he was recording me on his phone.  A memento.  Proof that I had done it. Testament to my dream.  My crowning midlife moment.

Later, on the way home, in the car, I eagerly poked the buttons on his phone to see a replay of myself.  Wow, what do you know – I look awesome in my flowy blouse and pulled back hair. And I like the bit where I raise both arms, so badass, I didn’t realize I had done that. So confident, so cool, so sexy.

Except, no, wait a minute, where’s the song? Turn up the volume, man – where’s my voice?  What the — what’d you do, Mac?

So, anyway, it’s a great looking video, but there’s no sound to go with it since something went wrong with his stupid phone.  No song, no memory, no rock-n-roll moment.

And not even a rocking picture.

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