Sing, sing a song … or 226 of them

Singing at Quackers

I sing a song at Quackers Bar in north Chico in October 2008. Photo by Olivia Drake.

I challenged myself to sing 200 different songs during karaoke in 2011. At the end of the year, I estimated I sang about 226 songs at karaoke — that’s about 14 hours of non-stop music. Here’s the list:

I think I did right by many of them, although some were challenging. I sang many of the songs by myself, even the duets, although I preferred a partner.

And, yes, all of them were love songs.

I’m planning to expand this later with thoughts about specific parts of my playlist, but it was a great year to have a song in my heart. I got to meet many new friends, and renew or expand current relationships. I sang in five Chico nightspots, plus locations in Paradise, San Francisco and Salt Lake City. In Oroville, I had a live band backing me and performed on a giant ballroom stage.

Thanks to Spotify, I was able to keep track of the songs (based on my tweets, notes and other recollections). It’s not a complete list because I started it in September. Despite my best efforts, I don’t think I remembered all of the songs. Also, Spotify is pretty good, but not all of my songs were in their library (and sometimes I had to substitute a cover version of the preferred one).

I haven’t started a list for 2012, but if you have a song you’d like me to sing, please let me know in the comments.

Photo: I sing a song at Quackers Bar in north Chico in October 2008. Photo by Olivia Drake.

What do you expect for nothing? – Sept. 21

I took the title of this post from the song “Rubber Biscuit.” I don’t quite know who wrote it, but the Blues Brothers sang it once upon a time. It wsa exciting to see karaoke compadre Allen owning a disc of songs from various Blue Brothers performances.

I tried out Rubber Biscuit at the Bear on Monday. It was _rough_ because they weren’t any lyrics for most of the song. Instead there was often the phrase [Ad lib singing] which left it to me to try to remember what Jake and Elwood were singing back in the day.

I managed to get through song and I still had a blast. Many of my colleagues said they hadn’t seen a karaoke song calling for ad libbing before.

I sang more Blues Brothers songs at The Maltese on Wednesday. It was fun, but I really want to sing “Riot on Cell Block No. 9” next week.

The end of the world

Here’s another belated post. I wanted to post the playlist from the last time I sang at The Maltese with my former co-worker Ari. Sure it was over a month ago, but I tried to do a fitting tribute to the songs Ari performed since he started his wacky karaoke career.

  • Teddy Bear — To the best of my knowledge, this was the first song Ari sang at The Maltese. I thought it was a fitting way to begin the night.
  • Rocky Top — One of the 6 Tennessee state songs and one of the 15,000 University of Tennessee fight songs. Good song although it was rough on my throat.
  • Werewolves of London — OK, Ari never really sang this song. However, he said it had one of the best lines in music.
  • The Curly Shuffle — Why is this song in the playlist? Because it allows me to get down on the floor and spin in a circle while shouting “Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo.”
  • Eastbound and Down — I’ve been told it’s from “Smokey and the Bandit.” Sadly, I wouldn’t know. It’s still a fun song.

Duet nite – 4-12

Tonight seemed like duet night at The Maltese. Four of the five songs I sang were with others. It was pretty cool although I probably need to work on singing in harmony with others. At the same time, it sounded all right and I had a good time. That’s what counts, right?

Oh, I want to thank my mom for listening to the love song radio station. I remember constantly being inundated by these duets like “I’ve had the time of my life” while we drove to clarinet lessons on a backroad in Georgia. While it’s not always my cuppa, those were some good times and it really prepared me for singing with others.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Picture (with Alice). The fun part is screaming “I was off to drink you away” at the top of my lungs.
  • End of the World. OK, that’s the one non-duet, but I’m practically required to sing the song. As always Ronnie sang backup. I thought it was rocking tonight.
  • Summer Nights (with Colleen). I still enjoy the end where the duo sings “NIGHTS” in the most off-key way possible.
  • Whip It (with Heather). Not really a duet in the strictest sense of the word, but we sang it together. I practiced my “dynamic” dance moves.
  • Seven Spanish Angels (with Colleen). Colleen and I helped bring it home with this ballad popularized by Ray Charles and Willie Nelson. She wanted to sing a Disney duet, but I’ve been wanting to sing this song for a long time. It’s cool when people dance with the music.

So that was Wednesday. Maybe I’ll post the 26-song playlist when I dominated the mostly empty stage in Marysville two weeks ago.

Empty nest at The Maltese

Like The Grad on Tuesday, there was only a small crowd at The Maltese Wednesday. We think that the low turnout might be due to the Monday holiday. Thankfully, Ari was along to help trade off songs with Ronnie. Joel showed up and seemed to be having a good time (but he didn’t sing).

Eventually, Ronnie declared it was new song night and we all tried our hands at singing different tunes outside our comfort zone. Most of my songs were new to me (aside from two or three “classics”).

  • Thanks for the Memory – rough, rough probably better left to the late Bob Hope.
  • Summertime – Why, oh why did I try this one? It was way too slow and I don’t have the gravitas.
  • She Blinded Me (With Science)
  • Down Under
  • Take the Last Train to Clarksville
  • It’s the End of the World as We Know it (And I Feel Fine)
  • Jump, Jive and Wail
  • Mr. Roboto – Another rough song because I only really knew the first verse and the chorus.
  • Beth – Ronnie tried to get Ari to sing this one, but I jumped in. I didn’t know it and I can only hope that KISS might have enjoyed it if they were present.
  • I Want You to Want Me – Another random song Ronnie picked out.
  • Give it Away Now – Again, it was rough for a bit until I remembered more of the song.
  • Folsom Prison Blues – Ended the night with some Cash.

Wednesday night at The Maltese

Had a good night inside the small bar with a lot of heart. Ari was back in the saddle after two weeks away and sang the classic “Wanted” with a little back-up from yours truly. He also sang Snoop Dogg and brought the house down, like always. Karaoke king Sam showed up and rocked some songs (including his standards like “Mack the Knife”). He ruled over Bearnaked Ladies’ “One Week.” Ronnie had me counter with “It’s the End of the World …” It was clear that Sam did a better job.

Still I had a lot of fun, although I missed singing Elton John songs for the two ladies that were there a couple of weeks back (although I could’ve done a better job of it). Tonight, I was trying to get one lady to sing behind the mike (she flatly refused). I hope I didn’t press the issue too much (it seemed like she was taking it in stride).

Here’s the run down of my songs:

  • Down on the Corner — I thought it was an OK song to warm up to. I don’t think I’ve got the resonant voice to make it sound like the classic.
  • Short Skirt, Long Jacket — I’m still working on singing to match McCrea’s rythym. It’s tough as heck.
  • It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) — I stumbled on a couple of lines. I downloaded the song from iTunes and I’ll hopefully get a better sense of the movement in the song.
  • Hit the Road Jack — Ray Charles’ classic as interpreted by me (not Ray Charles)
  • Don’t Bring Me Down — From Electric Light Orchestra. “Don’t bring me down … Bruce.” Why didn’t I know that song a couple of years ago? [ 😉 to the eight people in the world that might get that joke.]
  • Seven Spanish Angels — It’s a duet and I realized tonight that I sound neither like Ray Charles nor Willie Nelson. Ah well, I like the song even if others don’t.
  • I helped sing — Wanted, Love Shack, Hotel California and some LL Cool J song (to try and get the lady to sing). She playfully flipped me off. Drat. Maybe next time.