9:13 a.m. - February 24, 2007
But first, I have this housekeeping announcement: My Mix-Mania CD theme is “Songs That Should Have Been Hits”. Stay tuned for the song listings for THAT double CD of goodness.
OK, now it’s onto another mix, and I had fun making this one, though I struggled with the first pass and cut it from three CDs to two, for a very good reason.
I love music (der) and I love to sing, but I’m rather, um, limited in the vocal category. I do think there is a key that I can sing in, but somehow I’ve yet to find it consistently. Perhaps it’s on a scale that’s only the twinkling of some super avant-garde composer’s eye (or maybe Harri3t can figure it out.
So, I love me some karaoke, though the last time I went to a karaoke place I wasn’t having the best of days and left before I had a chance to sing. Still, I love me the IDEA of karaoke.
Now, obviously, with my limited skillz rockin’ the mike, I need to have a certain repertoire in order to not make a complete fool out of myself. So I have established a few rules.
1. It should be a song that you won’t totally embarrass yourself in singing. If the song has a vocal that’s out of this world, (say, like “Oh, Girl” by the Chi-Lites) just move along and don’t even try.
4. It shall not be “Feelings”.
5. If singing with a partner, make sure they take all of the tough parts.
So, with that in mind, I came up with a 2 CDs worth of “Smed’s Karaoke Favorites”. One disc is for me, solo, and the second disc is for me with a partner (or partners, depending). So, why don’t we give them a whirl? Besides, like I said, it’s the weekend! What else do you have to do?
Disc One – Smed Solo
1. Hello Walls – Faron Young. Country is always good for me because they sing a lot in my register, and it’s always good for a laugh. This one has Mr. Young talking to walls, windows and the ceiling. Willie Nelson wrote this, BTW.
2. Amie – The Pure Prairie League. Oh, yeah. I sing this one all the time, even when the song’s NOT on my iPod. I just love the harmonies in the chorus, and the gentle verses that don’t strain the vocal cords too much.
3. Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell. A melancholy little number, this has special significance since Liz is from Wichita. It’s a Jim Webb tune (not that you couldn’t tell) and is a perfect pop / country mix suited for Campbell’s voice (and mine, in a way).
4. Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues – Danny O’Keefe. “They say this town will waste your time / Guess they’re right it’s wasting mine.” How apt for BFE land. It’s a sad sack song, and you KNOW people just like this, don’t you?
5. I Can Help – Billy Swan. It’s a fun song, but the line, “if your child needs a Daddy / I can help” is just ASKING for trouble, isn’t it? I dig the cascading guitar line in the bridge, and the cheesy roller skating organ all the way through.
6. Behind Closed Doors – Charlie Rich. Oh, you KNOW they’re not playing Clue behind those doors. Well, unless they NEED a clue. Or it’s strip Clue. “Professor Plum in the Conservatory with the Lead Pipe. Now drop ‘em!”
7. Lucille – Kenny Rogers. I had not heard this song for over 15 years when I bought it on iTunes, and I knew EVERY FREAKIN’ WORD! That’s how much it seeped into my head in the 70’s. And of course, when I was a kid, I really didn’t pay much attention to the verses. Kenny was a playa, just sayin’.
8. Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me – Mac Davis. Well, Mr. Davis could write a good song or dozen, but as a singer, he was pretty limited. And you know, that’s right up my alley. Did you realize he had his own TV show for a while? I had totally forgotten about that. He also wrote “A Little Less Conversation” for Elvis. Wow.
9. In The Ghetto – Elvis Presley. And speaking of the King, how could you NOT karaoke this.
10. The Worst That Could Happen – The Brooklyn Bridge. This wass an 11-piece band after two bands welded together after a “Battle of the Bands” competition, a vocal group and an instrumental group. How conveeenient. This is another Jim Webb tune dug up off of a Fifth Dimension album, and it’s got it all. Well, for me anyway. You can really emote to this one, and the arrangement is tres cool. You know, I bet I could cover a bunch of Jim Webb songs and hit it big.
11. Traces – The Classics IV. Even when they slow it down, they couldn’t get rid of their signature guitar line that’s in every one of their hits. Dennis Yost really sings the heck out of this one. It’s just a classic tear-jerker.
12. Because – The Dave Clark Five. A big hit, but one that’s forgotten, this one has a neat sound and while it could be a duet, it works pretty well solo because it’s right up my alley, range wise.
13. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – The Hollies. Hearing this song randomly on my iPod is what set this one in motion, because I really pictured myself belting this out, even if it may be pushing my top range a bit. However, I can really lean into this one and give it all I’ve got, collapsing at the end of it because it’s taken so much out of me.
14. Emma – Hot Chocolate. Now, Hot Chocolate also had a signature guitar riff and sound, slowed down for this sad, sad tale of a failed movie queen who just can’t keep on livin’ on dreams no more. Snif…pass the Kleenex.
15. Precious And Few – Climax. If there was ANY song built for over-the-top karaokeing, it’s this one. If you’ve ever seen a video of this, the bass player has tan pants that have rainbows on the cuffs. Wowser.
16. Smile A Little Smile For Me – The Flying Machine. Oh, this is a sweet little song that is pushing the top of my vocal range, but I don’t really care. This is a British studio group, and it sounds like it. All fluff, no gruff, and a song that infects your mind and never lets go, Rose Marie.
17. Gypsy Woman – Brian Hyland. Yeah, he did that polka-dot bikini song, but came back in the early 70’s with this great tune, produced by Del Shannon. This also pushes it for me vocally, but so what. You get what you pay for, eh?
18. Stormy – The Classics IV. Oh, I KNOW I can sing the HELL out of this one. I do all the time. Just ask Liz. She’s installed a mute function on me just in case I start in going “You were the sunshine baby / whenever you smiled…”
19. Rock Me Gently – Andy Kim. A voice on many bubblegum hits, always lurking in the background, Kim had a few solo hits. This is an infectious pop concoction that no one could resist in the mid-70’s. And it’s perfect for my voice in the verses, and well, I can fake it in the bridge. He wrote this himself, and you wonder if he had another one in him.
20. Laughter In The Rain – Neil Sedaka. Sure, Neil sings like a little weenie at times, even when he acts tough, but this is a great ballad and I could really give it a go, especially late in the night when the crowd is a bit into the cups. Then they won’t care that I missed the high part in the second verse. You know, “sharing our love under stoooormy skies”.
21. Don’t Give Up On Us – David Soul. If Hutch can sing this one, so can I. Did you realize that in the 60’s, he had schtick where he sang in a ski mask and called himself “The Covered Man”. Merv Griffin booked him all of the time. “Show me your liner, Covered Man. Ooooh….we’ll be right back!”
22. True – Spandau Ballet. Just ask The Candidate, I can sing this really well about 2:00 in the morning. And I’ll even do the thing where I make sure my hair is in place, just like Tony Hadley.
23. Escape – Rupert Holmes. Ah, a tawdry song about cheatin’ on your old lady with…your old lady?? Anyway, I karaoked this at a conference and a group of ladies tucked me! So, naturally, I have to include it here.
24. Lady – Styx. I’m apt to break out this one at very odd moments, and yes, it does get a bit tough for me to be all Dennis DeYoung here and there. But you know, he deserves whatever I give to him for “Mr. Roboto”, doesn’t he?
Disc Two – The Duets. (I TOLD you this was long!)
1. I’ll Go To My Grave Loving You – The Statler Brothers. Oh, come on. How can you not try to sing like the bass singer? Back in junior high, you couldn’t escape the commercial advertising their greatest hits, so yeah, these songs are infused in my soul. BTW, they accompanied Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, along with Luther and Carl Perkins, of course. Dang, what a show.
2. If I Fell – The Beatles. This may be one of my favorite Beatles songs to sing along with. The harmonies are really different for a Beatles song, though. I don’t think they tried another one like this.
3. Gimme Little Sign – Brenton Wood. Hmmm….a duet? Yeah, there’s a low part and a high part all over the place, so it definitely needs someone who can do the high part, since that’s NOT me. The odd thing is that the chorus goes “Gimme some kind of sign”, so I don’t know where ‘little’ came from. Anyone?
4. I Got You Babe – Sonny and Cher. What, I was going to pass this one up? And listen, there’s no way I can butcher Sonny’s part, because Sonny couldn’t even butcher Sonny’s part.
5. Carrie-Ann – The Hollies. Yes, it’s a Hollies fest here on karaoke night. But you know - the songs are singable and fun. And that’s all you really need, isn’t it? I dig the steel drum, mon.
6. Somethin’ Stupid – Nancy and Frank Sinatra. OK, yeah, this is a heck of a song, but isn’t it a bit creepy that father and daughter are singing it. But I guess you don’t say NO to Frank if he wants to sing the song, do you?
7. The Rain, The Park, And Other Things – The Cowsills. Oh, heck, yeah. You have to have a trust backup singer when you sing this one, or some of your friends to be the whole Cowsill fam-damily. This song is just so damn cheery, it gives “Sunshine Day” a run for its money, you know. And tell Joanna Newsom this is how you use a harp in a pop song, OK?
8. Candida – Tony Orlando and Dawn. There is a lot of trivia here, as this was recorded as a demo, and didn’t feature the gals who would actually become Dawn. In fact, one of the singers on the track is Toni Wine, better known as both Betty and Veronica on the early Archies’ single.
9. Windy – The Association. On a message board, I was once known, in a nickname, as “Smedwindy” because of my pointless pontificating. Go figure. Anyway, this is just an irresistible pop nugget that’s fun to sing, especially if you have friends that can help you out in the background.
10. (Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All – The 5th Dimension. Here’s where I step into the background and do my perfect backup singer moves. Dig it, everyone. BTW – Marilyn McCoo, ooh la la.
11. Eres Tu – Mocedades. Doesn’t this song sound like it fits in Vegas? Well, except for the Spanish singing. Well, um, still, it’s very Vegas, baby. Thankfully, most karaoke places have the words in front of you.
12. Take A Chance On Me – ABBA. Oh, I’ve nailed the ‘take a chance / take a chance / take a chan-chance” backing vocals here.
13. Too Late To Turn Back Now – The Cornelius Brothers And Sister Rose. Oh, yeah, I nail the lead vocal on this, because it’s right down my alley, range wise. And I need help on the backing vocals, because you gotta have the backups.
14. (You’re) Having My Baby – Paul Anka. Um, let me just set this straight. You only sing this for camp effect. I think if Liz was EVER pregnant, she’d have punched my lights out in the fifth or sixth month because I would have sang this song a wee bit too much. I guess there’s a reason we had to adopt – and one of them is preventing domestic violence like this! Heh.
15. How ‘Bout Us – Champaign. Another almost perfect pop-song that’s just a good one to sing along to, and harmonize if you can get it right.
16. Yes I’m Ready – Teri DeSario with KC. Whatever happened to Teri DeSario? Actually, this song was rather much the end of the road for both of them, wasn’t it? The arrangement is tasteful, of course, and I’m sure that I slow danced to this in junior high with Mindy Howell. Oh, why I never asked her to “go with me”, I have no idea. Sigh…
17. Where Is The Love? – Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack. For a while, each generation had their soulful duo that spun off hit after hit. Now, we have guest artists upon guest artists upon guest artists on everyone tracks, and it’s a good thing there aren’t vinyl 45s anymore because the artist listing would take up the whole label. Isn’t this song just a gem, though? The voices meld perfectly, and at 1:30 AM in the karaoke place, that won’t matter if someone is a bit ‘pitchy’. But that’s what I get for singing with Paula Abdul.
18. Stumblin’ In – Chris Norman & Suzi Quatro. What was it with these great duets that killed the careers of the singers soon after. Since Chris Norman didn’t have that great of a voice, I can fit right in here. Ah, Suzi Quatro. You will always be Leather Tuscadero to me. Sigh….
19. Afternoon Delight – The Starland Vocal Band. Yes, they had their own TV show. Now why would I make that up? I wrote about singing this song here from back in the day. (2005, wow, that IS back in the day, isn’t it? Heeee….)
20. Knock Three Times – Tony Orlando & Dawn. Ok, anyone taking bets on if it’s three knocks on the ceiling or twice on the pipes? I think the skeevy moustache may have chased her away, if not for the old ‘note attached to fishing line delivered to her window’ ruse.
21. Summer Breeze – Seals & Crofts. Oh, when I picked this one the jasmine in my mind got to me. But it makes me feel fine, anyway.
22. Anytime – Journey. Greg Rolie sings most of the lead here, so it’s safe for me. And he’s very earnest about his lead, too. I do need someone to sing Schnozzy McShrieky’s part. And during the guitar solo, I’ll be doing my best Neil Schon, sans Jew-fro, though.
23. Knowing Me, Knowing You – ABBA. When in doubt, sing something by ABBA. That’s my motto. You know, if I actually sang.
24. The Air That I Breather – The Hollies. Yeah, it’s mostly a solo thing, but I think a lot of help on the chorus would make it a super grand finale, you know. Everyone get your lighters out!
Well, there you go. If I did sing karaoke, that would be my set list. I’d wow ‘em, you know. Or drive them to the bar. Either way, it’s a win for the owner, even if I’d just sit there drinking tonic and lime and laughing at the drunks trying to sing Guns ‘N’ Roses and REO Chuckwagon.