I wrote a song over the weekend. A rap song. That’s right, I’m a rapper sometimes. I wrote it with a comedian friend of mine, Amy Snowden. http://www.amysnowden.com/ It’s a comical rap song which I will reveal to you when it’s finished. We had a great time writing it and it reminded me of way back when, when I embarked on a 10 year pursuit of a career in music.
Looking back, I really should’ve focused more on songwriting than singing because I’m better at that than I am at singing. I’m a decent singer but I’m certainly no Miley Cyrus. In fact, I should’ve pursued a rap career. All I would have to do is write about drugs or slappin’ hoes around and rhyme every other line. It’s not like you need a melody and I’m really good at rhyming thanks to all those weird, little poems I wrote when I was 10 years old.
But since I liked performing so much and since I knew absolutely nothing about the music business, I decided to try it. It all started when I sang at a karoke in a bar in New Orleans, and after I sang, people told me I was good. Let it be known that everyone in the bar was trashed on hurricanes. And let it also be known that just because drunk people in a karoke bar tell you that you can sing doesn’t mean you should try and pursue a music career.
I was in LA for about four years and knew my dance career was quickly coming to an end, so I started to do more things towards music, like going to every open mic in town that had a pianist. I’d bring some sheet music and sing some lame show tune after the pianist helped me find my key. Do you know that old joke; how do you know when a lead singer is at the door? Because she can’t find her key and she doesn’t know when to come in. That was me. I really sucked. But my thinking was, the more I do it, the better I’ll get, and soon enough, the bartender at one of the little piano bars said he was a guitar player, was starting a band and wanted me to be in it!
He said he had a bass player and drummer but needed to find a keyboard player and a couple more singers. His idea was to form a band similar to the one in the movie The Commitments; with three female background singers who would back him up on lead vocals and then the three girls would also trade off on lead vocals. I don’t know where he found the keyboard player but he was such a weirdo. Whenever he would come to my apartment to rehearse, he would spend a half an hour trying to play with my cats who weren’t interested in him, and he wasn’t very good either. He was the type of keyboard player who would get work playing at Catholic funerals or bar mitzvahs. But we had no money to pay someone good and believe me, we got what we paid for. But the truth is, the whole band sucked. The female singers were the best part. We looked cute, sang harmonies and did dance routines, but in all honesty, we weren’t that good either. But we didn’t know that, we thought we were great!
We were a cover band and the songs we played were old R&B and blues songs like Mustang Sally and In the Midnight Hour, because clearly, we had no idea how overplayed those songs are by shitty cover bands. The guitar player/band leader had a curly mullet and would break into a screeching heavy metal type of guitar solo in the middle of a blues song. I’m no music expert but I knew what he was playing wasn’t right. After all, I was waiting tables at BB Kings blues club at the time and saw really good blues musicians play night after night. I knew the freakin’ difference between a tasty blues lick and whatever the hell kinda shit playing heavy metal is. By the way, I love when guitar players refer to notes or chords as a “tasty lick.” Because when I refer to a tasty lick, it has nothing to do with music.
Our first gig was at a gay bar in North Hollywood. The whole band was really excited, even the weird piano player. We packed the place with all of our friends and everyone loved us. After that, we played at a lot of dive bars, mostly around the Valley and practiced in this old rehearsal building in a seedy part of downtown. Most of the songs I sang with that band were Tina Turner songs. That’s right, you can just call me Proud Mary. The movie, What’s Love Got to do With It? was out around that time and I took the choreography directly from the movie and we did the whole Ikettes dance routine. So musically we weren’t that good, but we were at least fairly entertaining to watch. But rehearsals with seven people aren’t easy to organize so we never practiced as much as we needed to. One of the girls could really sing, but she drank a lot and proved to be unreliable. By the way, don’t ever tell a guitar player that he should make his solos a little more bluesy. Because the next thing you know, everyone starts arguing, the drummer gets another gig, one of the background singers is drunk all the time and eventually the band breaks up.
And that was how my music career started. By the way, we called ourselves Midnight Rhythm. What a stupid band name! But hey, it’s better than Kajagoogoo or the Goo Goo Dolls. Who ever thought putting the word “goo” in a band name was a good idea? But I learned a lot in that band, important things like; if the guitar player has a mullet, don’t let him solo.
I’ll tell you more about my music “career” later. That was just the beginning and it does get a little better than that. When Amy and I were writing the song and talking about music, it turns out that we both have met Ike Turner, and he’s was as sleezy as you would expect. He hit on Amy. Thankfully, when I met him I was wearing a waitress outfit and not my Tina Turner costume or he might have bitch-slapped me. But he was really skinny and small so I totally could’ve taken him.
By the way, Tina Turner is one of the best performers I’ve ever seen live. Note to Beyonce; try if you must, but you’ll never even come close to Tina….aside from the wigs 😀
Have a rockin’ day!