I can’t lie. I was shocked that Jeff was actually signed up.
He began to make the slow walk up to the stage. He was staggering and was having difficulty making it. In fact he was so slow getting up on stage that the David Lynch character wannabe in the corner kept saying his name over and over again.
I should point out what I may have failed to point out earlier. Although this was a form of karaoke, there was not a monitor that told you when or what to sing. They offered you a sheet of paper with the lyrics printed on it, but that will only take you so far if you don’t know when you are supposed to sing those words.
As Jeff made the long stagger up to the stage I proclaimed to my table:
“Watch this! This is my boy! He is going to sing Last Dance with Mary Jane. It is going to be awesome.”
Jeff finally made it to the stage. He didn’t have a sheet of paper. He didn’t need a sheet of paper. This man was a lead singer. He was big back in 1993. He once opened for Sheila E.!
I assume that most readers are somewhat familiar with the song Last Dance with Mary Jane or as it is actually titled: Mary Jane’s Last Dance. The song goes something like this:
She grew up in a Indiana town,
Had a good lookin’ mama who never was around.
But she grew up tall and she grew up right
With them Indiana boys on an Indiana night.
Well she moved down here at the age of eighteen,
She blew the boys away; was more than they’d seen.
I was introduced and we both started groovin’
She said, “I dig you, baby, but I got to keep movin’ – on.
Keep movin’ on.”
Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain.
I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m tired of this town again.
Well I don’t know but I’ve been told, you never slow down, you never grow old.
I’m tired of screwin’ up, tired of goin’ down,
Tired of myself, tired of this town,
Oh my, my, oh hell yes – Honey put on that party dress.
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come . cause I can’t stay long.
There’s pigeons down on Market Square,
She’s standing in her underwear.
Lookin’ down from a hotel room,
Nightfall will be coming soon.
Oh my, my, oh hell yes, you got to put on that party dress.
It was too cold to cry, when I woke up alone.
I hit my last number, I walked to the road.
Jeff took the microphone. Kountertop started playing the song. When it came time for Jeff to start singing, he opened his mouth and the following came out. Well, this is an approximation of what came out:
“shoen aoind aodnin daguiw aneal nakdn”
It was complete gibberish. It is possible that he got about every fifth word right, but the rest was absolute drivel. He didn’t get better as he went along. He continued to allow gibberish to escape his lips, then he would get lost.
To defend my boy, Jeff wasn’t the first person to get completely lost. Whenever somebody would get lost, Kountertop would start singing until they found their place again. They had to help Jeff out about 3 or 4 times. Whenever they would start singing, he would start crooning along again. He would get the rhythm correct and I would say be in the ballpark of the notes. But the noises that came out of his mouth that should have fit together to form words and phrases seemed to be random noises. They fit together to only make more random noises.
But to defend my boy Jeff once again, I don’t think he was the worst performer of the night. Before him was a girl that performed the Limp Bizkit version of Faith. Not only could she hit a note, she didn’t know the lyrics past the first verse and she didn’t know the way the song went. She didn’t have the rhythm of the song. She came in at the wrong spots. She didn’t come in when she was supposed to come in. I felt bad for her. I’m sure many people have done karaoke and thought that they knew a song and nailed it for one verse, but then realized “I have no clue what comes next”. In this situation she didn’t have a monitor to help her out. Kountertop helped her out, but by the end of the song she was just standing on stage screaming. I suppose that is not completely inconsistent with Limp Bizkit though.
To further defend my boy Jeff, people at my table compared his performance to Bob Dylan. I have been to a Bob Dylan concert. I have walked out on a Bob Dylan concert after 4 songs. I did this in Bob Dylan’s hometown. When my group walked out of the concert, the ushers tried to stop us.
“Where are you going?”
“As far away from this garbage as we can get.”
“If you leave you won’t be able to get back in.”
“You guys don’t like Bob?”
“Why can’t you just move and let us leave? No we don’t like Bob. He sucks. He is a synonym for overrated.”
When we got outside some of us gave our tickets to a homeless guy. Although it was a chilly October night and I don’t think that they let him in to the show, I consider that to have been an act of cruelty and not an act of charity.
So as Jeff got lost and Kountertop helped him out again I said, “No. At least this is funny. Bob Dylan is just sad.”
Mercifully for most of the patrons of People’s, the song did eventually come to an end. Jeff staggered off stage right. I wondered if I would talk to him the rest of the night. He had to know that his performance was subpar, even for karaoke standards. I figured that there was at least a fair chance that he might just collect his things and tried to drag what remained of his dignity home with him.
Another part of me wondered if perhaps he had no clue about the depth of his awfulness. He might be so drunk or wasted that he thinks that he was awesome.
It didn’t take me long to know what was on Jeff’s mind. As soon as he got off stage he came straight to me.
“I screwed that up.” Only he didn’t say screwed.
“You weren’t that bad.”
“I was terrible. I got up there and I forgot the words.”
“I noticed that. You could have used a sheet of paper.”
“You could have gotten a sheet of paper with the lyrics on it. They have those up there.”
“They didn’t offer me that.”
“Well, you can go home and practice and come back next week.”
“I was terrible.”
“You are too hard on yourself.”
I said that just to be nice. However, when I said those words, they seemed to have a deeper effect on him. The look on his face changed as if I had given him the keys to enlightenment.
His voice got kind of serious. “Do you really think so?”
“Yeah.” I said this in a tone that was way more condescending than I intended.
It was completely lost on him.
“You really think I’m too hard on myself?”
“Well, I don’t know you all that well, but I think you are beating yourself up too much. So you forgot the lyrics to Tom Petty’s song. I bet if you were singing your own songs you would have owned this place.”
“You might be right.”
Then Jeff turned and headed towards the bar.
Up on stage a girl was bruising up an Incubus song. It seemed that everybody else had their fill of Rock Star Karaoke. We began to collect our things.
Shannon turned towards me and said, “You’ll have to write a blog about that guy.”
I said, “I don’t know if that is blog worthy.”
Then I smiled. I think she knows that what my standard for blog worthy is pretty low.
I would just like to add one final bit to the story. We did book Kountertop. They will be performing on July 18th. I don’t have much sway with many people, but if I do decide to make a push for some of you to come to ONE Ames on the Halfshell concert this summer this is the one I think that you should come and see. This is the one band that I was active in booking. You might get more pressure from me as that date approaches. In fact, count on it.