I have a wonderful long-standing fantasy about singing in a bar somewhere. I’m not sure if it’s an open mic night, or what the deal is, but I can clearly see myself, seated on a stool, singing along with a band. I don’t have a band, but I’d like one. I’m wearing my hair long and curly, and I have the most fabulous smoky purple eyeshadow. All in all, it’s a glorious thing to dream about: the singing and such, not necessarily the eyeshadow.
For those family members –and folks who know the family– who are reading, please note that I take after my mother in eye colour, foot size, and little squeaky chipmunk voice on the telephone. From my dad, I got curly hair and musical ability. Rest your troubled minds, I do not sing like my momma. (Sorry, Momma).
Whenever I drift into this musical fantasy, I inevitably think about the songs I would perform in this scenario. Today, I’m writing about the eight songs that, as of this moment, would form the set list for my imaginary performance. Don’t worry, I’m firmly planted in reality: I just find that reality is a lot easier to handle with a healthy fantasy life. Kind of like chocolate.
I’ve linked all the song titles to YouTube, if you want to go have a listen while you read.
Admittedly, I love old music. I love Jim Croce more than anyone my age that I know of. I’d open with this piece because it’s so darn peppy. Also, Jim reminds me of my dad, who listened to this kind of music when I was a kid and who I credit with getting me hooked on the “good” stuff.
I think this classic Heart song got way too much bad press from its butchering on American Idol. It’s a shame, really, because this is one of the best pieces I know. Note to whoever that is making a mockery of it right now in a sample on top 40 radio: shove off and let the grown ups play. Thanks.
I teach this song in my English 9 classes because I love the way Bob Dylan tells the story of this poor woman. As much as I love Dylan’s lyrics, however, I can’t stand the way the man performs (sorry, but it’s true) so I’d sing the arrangement Christy Moore does. There’s something about those Gaelic voices, yes?
4. “Whiter Shade of Pale”
This is my favorite song of all time. I’m not exactly sure why, but something about it just speaks to me. Everytime I hear it, I want to buy a church organ and figure out what those crazy lyrics actually mean.
Sometimes, an old, old song like this piece by Percy Mayfield just needs a bit of a facelift. Folks who don’t know this one, please start by listening to the live performance of Gladys Knight and B.B. King. If you’re going to do something, for goodness sake, do it right! I love the sexy guitar in this version. You’ll love it too. I promise.
Bon Jovi used to rock. Some would argue that Bon Jovi still does, and that’s where this song comes in. What a fabulous, ironic song about pretending not to care. Man, pieces like this make me wish I could play electric guitar. Actually, songs like this make me wish my hands worked properly so I could play electric guitar, but that’s a post for another day.
I think everybody knows this Leonard Cohen song, thanks to Shrek, but I’d probably sing it the way Sheryl Crow does. It’s a beautiful, beautiful song, and I get a little bit weepy every time I hear someone else sing it. I’m a wimp: I know: you don’t need to rub it in, okay? At a live theatre and music production this winter, the performer started the opening chords and I chicken flapped my arms in glee: she saw me and smiled. Everyone loves a chicken flap.
8. “After the Rain”
A set list from me without Blue Rodeo? Not flippin’ likely. These lovely Canadian fellas play the best live show I’ve ever seen: they’re actually better live than they are on recordings, and that is a rare thing to be treasured. “After the Rain” is one of those bittersweet songs about something that existed long ago and has faded softly into the history of a person’s life.
And so, dear readers, I ask you: if you were singing somewhere, what would you sing? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this post. I can’t wait to hear from you.
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