Last Thursday I attended the Renton Technical College commencement ceremony at the ShoWare Center in Kent. My dear friend John received his degree as a licensed practical nurse and I was there to watch him walk--and check out the women in his graduating class.
"I keep forgettin' that Jeff likes to imitate my voice."
After the ceremony we decided to hit a karaoke bar. The first place that comes up on a Google search when "kent wa karaoke" is plugged in is Casey's Bar & Grill on 104th Ave SE, so we went with that. We got there around ten. It was John, his girlfriend, our buddy Dimitris and me. Aside from some people at the poker tables, the place was pretty dead. The KJ station was set up in the corner to the left of the entrance and there were two girls singing the Dixie Chicks' "Cowboy Take Me Away" as we walked in.
I didn't want to go too crazy with the drinks that night since I was driving, but John was in full-on celebration mode, so I downed a pint and a shot of Sauza and let that work on me. There were no requests up so the KJ played music as he waited for slips. They only had one catalog on the floor and it was organized by song title. I didn't want to waste any time trying to find a song. When it's dead like that I get anxious; I just want to sing as many times as I could before people start showing up.
John asked if I was going to do Springsteen, so I took that as a request. I found "Prove It All Night" and turned it in. The company that produced this version screwed up the video. Normally, the screen is supposed to show the upcoming verses (and highlight over so the singer can follow along), but this was a blank screen that only revealed the lyrics as the song went on. I knew it by heart so it wasn't a problem, but as I tried to explain the issue to the KJ and my friends, they didn't have a clue what I was talking about because they could still see words moving across the screen. No other songs had that problem and the mic sounded great, so it was no big deal.
I've been to karaoke bars with John before, but he's never wanted to take the stage himself. That's the way most of my friends are, but I'd always had a sneaking suspicion he could sing. After his second bud light he announced he was going to take a shot of Wild Turkey. He always told me how that stuff turned him into an animal, so that's when I knew he was going to break his cherry. He grabbed the book and after ten seconds remarked how much of a pain in the ass it is to search for a song by title.
There was still nobody up as we waited for him to find one so I went for a number I've always wanted to sing "What a Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers. A few years ago I did an impersonation of Michael McDonald's voice at a party. I sang the first couple lines of, "I Keep Forgettin'" and my friends said I sounded just like him. Since then I've thought about requesting McDonald dozens of times, but every time my gut's told me not to go through with it. During my performance, by verse two, I learned that my gut was right. That was prescience incarnate: It was a disaster. The song was as out of my range as any song I've ever tried to sing. Thank God nobody was there. Say what you want about how cheesy Michael McDonald is--that guy's pipes are not to be trifled with.
After my Doobies debacle, John turned in "LA Woman" by the Doors. I am not a fan of the Doors and whenever I hear someone try to sing them it blows--but this song I actually like. For a guy who's never sung karaoke before I was very impressed John didn't go with something boring, like "Light My Fire." When he got up and sang it was natural as can be, and the fucker actually sounded just like Jim Morrison. I see guys sing The Doors all the time, but John was the best I'd ever seen. I was proud and jealous at the same time. He was a ringer and didn't even know it. People finally did show up, he eventually took that shot of Wild Turkey, and went on to dominate the rest of the night.