This week, the Karaoke Korrespondent goes on a karaoke bender in his native Greenwood, and ends up writing about Goofy's.
I recently took a week off from singing to mourn the loss of the Luau, my all-time favorite bar and nightly hangout. The days leading up to their last night, I was asked numerous times what I was going to do with my time now that it was closing down. Those who figured I'd spend more time in karaoke bars were more than just a little correct: Between Wednesday and Monday I was at a different Greenwood karaoke bar in every night, and returned to four of them on Saturday night alone.
I spent the first night of my post-Luau life at Goofy's on Crown Hill. Fehrone (DJ Fehronemo), the KJ I met at Hamburger Harry's, does the karaoke there on Wednesday nights. I got there around 9:30, and felt kind of shy about singing. In the immediate bar area there were only a couple tables of people, and despite the fact the KJ station was all set up, it didn't feel like the focus of the place was on the karaoke. It sounded like someone was singing in the back bar area where the pool tables and dart boards were, but no one in the front area was paying attention. I decided to relax at the table right in front of their fire pit and dig into the book.Fehrone didn't have a lineup of singers accumulated, so whoever turned in a slip was up immediately. The best thing about when things are dead is I can take time studying the book without worrying how many songs are being requested before me as I search. As I cruised through the Allman Brothers selections, I was annoyed once again by the fact that "Come and Go Blues," my favorite song of theirs, has not been produced for karaoke. Whose decision is it to create these songs, and why haven't they gotten to this one yet? I'm beginning to think when it comes to 70's Classic Rock, unless someone comes up with the technology that eliminates the vocals from songs, what you see is what you get.
We were pushing a 10-minute stretch with no singer, so Fehrone sparked things up himself with "Wishing Well" by Terrence Trent D'Arby. I've loved that song since I was a kid, and it was perfect for his voice. I came close to picking a Harry Connick Jr. song from "When Harry Met Sally," but felt that was a bit too elegant for this crowd, so I decided to instead lead in with "Even the Losers" by Tom Petty.
At Goofy's, there's no set spot for a stage. It's basically a wireless mic, sing-where-you-sit setup. That's what most of the performers did that night but I was taught at an early age by my dad to stand up whenever I sing. The Petty song was really rough early on. I forgot how high it started out and my voice was really struggling, but I realized it was all nerves. After all these years, I am in one of the emptiest places I've ever sang in--and I still get butterflies. After the first verse, I decided to close my eyes, let "the force" take over, and allow the 20-year love affair I've had with this song take command. It was a piece of cake after that.
Including the KJ, it was pretty much a five singer rotation--absolutely ideal for a Wednesday night. The gal who sang after me performed "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood. I realized I've heard that song just about everywhere I've been recently. The other performers were a couple dudes in his late twenties, and they were all over the place with their picks.
Fehrone's next number was "Valerie" by Steve Winwood. I always thought I hated that song, but as soon as his voice kicked in, I got super stoked. He really knows how to pick cuts that are perfect for his voice and stir up emotion in his audience. I'd come back every Wednesday just to watch him sing.
As I worked on finding my second pick, there were a couple songs from the 90's that were sung by the dudes at the other table. I've had the hardest time coming to grips with the fact that the classic rock of today is 90's alternative. Back when I was in high school, Led Zeppelin seemed like they were around an entire generation before me; but now when I look back, John Bonham had only died eight years prior to my first day of freshman year. It's almost been 16 years since Cobain died. Neil Young must seem like Pat Boone to kids today.
I pass over 90's alt-rock every time because I feel lame singing that genre, despite the fact I know like every song. I think the real reason is because subconsciously I'm embarrassed for liking that stuff; there is way better music from I'd rather be singing. Once again I ask the question: who makes the call on what artists are being produced, and why haven't they gotten around to Pavement, or Wilco, or Built to Spill? I swear to God, if I ever came into money, I'd pay musicians to produce my favorite songs and artists for karaoke.
It wasn't hard for me to settle on a song as soon as I allowed myself to do one from the grunge era. I decided to go with the Pearl Jam classic, "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town." I've never done it before and always wanted to, and it felt amazing to sing. The mic was turned a bit too low, but I didn't mind. I got to hear my non-amplified voice sing it and hear how perfectly in my range it was. I guess all those songs aren't that bad--a lot of them are just really played out.