In Trouble (Again)
Pavarotti I am not. In trouble again for singing, I am.
In the 80s, I was lucky enough to live in Coogee whilst attending Uni. Walking distance to the Coogee Bay Hotel saw us spend many weekend evenings at the ‘Selinas’ music venue - the absolute golden age of Aussie pub rock. Oils, INXS, Richard Clapton, Australian Crawl, Hoodoos, Spy V Spy, Mentals, Cockroaches, you name them, they played there. Cheap too – only a few bucks to see any of them. These were the days when beers in pubs were affordable, too.
This was where I hardened my vocal chords, yelling my lungs out to the words of the iconic songs by these brilliant artists. The biggest pity out of all of this was/is that I can’t sing … for nuts. Never really could, but I reckon all that screaming did me no good in this area either. No matter how much I pretend, or how hard I’ve tried to carry a serious tune, those within earshot give testimony to my serious lack of talent in this area.
In the early days, I always fancied myself as Bon Scott from AC/DC, standing in the middle of our lounge room with mates from our street singing along to ‘Jailbreak’ with air guitars, of course. Over the 90s, and far too old to be thinking about such things many would say, I could imagine myself as Axl, out in front of Guns ‘n Roses, doing my swagger and hitting the high notes in ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’.
About halfway through last year, my lovely wife, a few friends and I relived past glories as James Reyne, former lead singer of my fave band Australian Crawl, did an acoustic set at the Civic Theatre. Uh oh. Knowing the words to every single song backward, this guy jumped straight back into his lung-belting 80s persona, screaming along to Boys Light Up, Hammerhead, Reckless and all the others, as James performed them with just acoustic guitar and modest voice. We were mid-theatre in the second row, and poor old guy directly in front of us did NOT appreciate the finer points of my vocal range, getting a crick in his neck from the number of times he turned around to give me the evil eye, especially as the cool choruses came along. Sorry buddy, James might not ever come to Orange again, so I’m getting my moneys’ worth at this concert. Getting up the next morning and finding myself decidedly hoarse tells me I nailed the briefing. Thanks James for the sing-along.
Last Tuesday, my family and I were lucky enough to jag tickets to the ‘Ruby Tuesday’ performance at the Agrestic Grocer, which saw Mark O’Connor perform his legendary tribute to the first nine albums of Elton John. OMG, in my element again. From Teacher I Need You, to Your Song, to Rocket Man, he played them all, even asking for requests from the intimate audience. Oops, in strife for lunging it again. An acquaintance of ours came over to my daughter at the interval and asked sarcastically “does your dad know the words to every song?” (answer : yes). To which my daughter replied with equal sarcasm “my ears tell me he does”. You beauty Mark, you did Elton proud! A Ruby Tuesday performance of the ages and one of the all-time great sing-alongs for me. I could certainly hear many others in the audience doing their best Elton impressions. We certainly all got our value, and as Elton himself says “I think it’s gonna be a long, long time” before we those of us who love to sing get to belt it out again.