Singing is like FaceTime: You think you look good until you see yourself — and it’s not pretty. You might as well be gazing into one of those distortion mirrors at the circus.
When I’m singing, I’m Bruce Springsteen, whose song “Dancing in the Dark” I sang last Saturday at the Media Music Jam, a fundraiser for the Kern County Cancer Fund. I also sang Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.”
The lineup, which included Monsignor Craig Harrison, newscasters Jim Scott, Aaron Perlman and Erin Briscoe, former Mayor Harvey Hall and many other famous, talented and gifted people, was festival-quality. Today Bakersfield, tomorrow Pitchfork.
We wanted to raise money for the fund, which is event organizer Steve Flores’ heartfelt project, but that was just an excuse to be on point, in front, dead center and loom large on the Crystal Palace stage.
Everybody wants to be a rock star, don’t they? The desire to sing the kind of music "that just soothes the soul" starts early. This is my destiny, you think.
Growing up in Bakersfield in the '60s was about listening to KERN and KAFY. The first time I heard Barry McGuire wail “Eve of Destruction” I knew I was destined for greatness, although at the time "I was old enough to kill but not for votin'."
When I became an undersized, depressed teenager what’s better than Jackson Browne for music you want to kill yourself by. I’d sit alone in my room for hours singing along to “Fountain of Sorrow” and “Running on Empty” dreaming about growth spurts and the time when I would take the stage and get even with all the people who were doing me wrong, even though they had no idea they were doing me wrong.
The Eagles and “Peaceful Easy Feeling"? I found out a long time ago that I own that song and I knew it wouldn’t let me down.
Then, as an adult — Springsteen. Talk about blood brothers separated at birth. I was born to run and itching to step out over the line.
I had trained my whole life for this Jam. This was my shot and Mr. Separated-at-Birth was ready.
I was first on the program or almost first after the entire group sang “All Night Long,” a song where the former mayor almost stole the show. Harvey, doing his own version of crowd surfing, fell backward and was caught by an athletic and astute Perlman, one of KBAK’s stars.
That was a hard act to follow especially since Harvey never missed a beat and bounced up uninjured and wearing his classic ribbon-cutting smile. It almost looked staged, like Gene Wilder’s somersault in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
“People say just have fun,” said KBAK’s Erin Briscoe. “I’m too nervous to have fun.”
Nervous? Who’s nervous? Erin, I’m on the cusp of musical greatness.
A few minutes later I was in front of the mic with Thee Majestics, “thee” best backup band in the world, behind me.
“Take those old records off the shelf,” I remembered that line. Good for me. I remembered most of the lines from “Old Time Rock and Roll,” except for those that flew out of my head like fast-moving clouds.
Halfway through the first song, I listened to myself on the monitor stationed at my feet. That wasn’t me. That guy was flat and if he wasn’t flat, he was sharp depending on whether he was yelling or whispering.
Thee Majestics were total pros; they smiled through every musical transgression as if they were the E Street Band and this was Bruce’s final concert at the L.A. Sports Arena.
All evidence aside, which probably includes damning video footage from the evening, I’ll say, I killed it. That means, "This gun's for hire. Even if we're just dancing in the dark."