I used to love this piano bar in Baltimore called Howl at the Moon. There is a chain of them across the US- I have also been to the one in New Orleans. It was not as much fun.
The basic idea is that there are two dual baby grand pianos facing each other. They players play songs that we all know the words to and everyone sings along. Loudly. Off key. Strangers coming together, happily if not slightly buzzed.
The last time I went was a long time ago, pre- Mrs. and pre-momyhood. A guy- college age- went up to the circular stage that sat about 3 feet off the ground in the middle of the bar and sat on a stool. There was microphone in front of him.
One of the piano players told the crowd that this kid wanted to sing a song alone, sort of like a karaoke version of a dueling piano bar. This is a generally happy crowd, so no one objected. I can only speak for myself, but I was expecting this drunk frat kid to screw up whatever he was about to sing in a big way. I settled back in my front row seat, ready for voice cracking, lyric botching and audience jeering.
The piano started playing the hypnotic beginning melody of Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis". The guy on the stool closed his eyes and bowed his head and started singing.
The whole bar, full of people ready to sing along in between swigs of beer- just. stopped.
It was still in that bar for four minutes and thirty seconds while this guy sang to us about blue suede shoes and Memphis and being a Christian. I had heard the song before, but there was something about the way his voice played on the soprano and bass notes of the piano that was bewitching.
I'm not sure why I was captivated by him. I'm not sure why still when I hear this song I think of this experience.
I could not pick this guy out of a line up even if he was wearing a blue suede Howl at the Moon t-shirt. I'm almost 100% sure my friends who were with me that night at the bar do not even remember this performance.
I really don't understand why I feel compelled to write about this in my blog. You fellow writers may understand.
Sometimes you just have to get it out.