I got into work late for me today, although at 9AM it would be the standard time to arrive into work for most. Me on the other hand I like to get in early and escape not long after the part timers leave. This way I miss the traffic in the morning, miss the traffic in the afternoon, and get to be home in time to go to the gym and still have a full night ahead of me to hang with my friends. This morning however there was no getting me to work on time.
A night with Ginrod turned into two bottles of wine followed by an excursion to a little blue door in the wall Jazz bar with the girls. This is the kind of bar I like. A small place, with an understated charm that draws your vision to the large black and white stills hanging on the brick wall of musicians looking down at a large, black, grand piano and double base waiting to be played. It is the sort of place I go to dream of being a Jazz singer, “doo doo wa” doing next to a piano man who I slide up to as I sing my song about whoopee, not too dissimilar from Michelle Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys. In an ideal world where I did not have to consider where my rent was coming from each month, that is where you would find me at night… propping myself up against a grand piano, singing in dulcet tones to an audience who would lap up every drop.
I remember going to see my friend Corinne, many years ago, when she was working in a Jazz bar, go up on the stage and sing amongst the musicians. I would watch her with an even mixture of admiration, pride and a dash of envy. Although I had sung a great deal when I was younger, by the time I finished my teens I left behind singing in favour of finding a ‘career’. It never occurred to me that I could ever find a career with my voice, no matter how many people said I had talent, my view was there is more to being an artist than holding a note. An entertainer can sing a tune, but he is no artist. An artist writes the tune he sings. In my opinion unless you have nurtured the song from just an idea to fruition you may as well be creating the Mona Lisa painting with numbers. I guess this is why I envied her, because when she stood on that stage just singing into the mic, she belonged there. Surrounded by instruments that she could play, singing with musicians who admired her talent as a musician and a singer songwriter. I knew my place. I was and am nothing more than an entertainer, a self loathing entertainer longing to be an artist, and not just a singer.
When you are just a singer it is hard to stand up with the giants and claim that the voice you have is an instrument too. The difference here is I do not have to practice my instrument every day, although there was a time that I did much to the annoyance of my family. I think the issue has always been that I have always held truly talented musicians in some form of reverence. They had the raw talent, the determination and the passion for their art to keep on practising; even when their fingers were bleeding; or when they had failed to get it the first 10 times, but were determined to get it this time; or just even though their favourite TV programme was on and they could not be bothered to concentrate. They carried on in a way that I never could with the many instruments I had longed to play, but never managed more than London Bridge before quitting.
However, last night, when my friend grabbed the dude who had brought the musicians together and said, “You looking for a singer?” while pointing in my direction, I was amazed by how welcome I felt. Arms outstretched he welcomed me to join the musicians on stage… any time… now? No I could not go up. Nothing to do with nerves. Although now the thought of getting back on stage is filling me with an excited fear and loathing, I was just not prepared to sing at that moment. Well after two bottles of wine I stumbled over telling him my name, never mind trying to remember the lyrics to songs I have not sung fully for years. “Anytime you wanna sing, come find me.” And with a wink and a smile I felt so at ease that despite not knowing what I would sing or the words to the songs I almost floated on after him as he walked back onto the stage and lifted the sax to his lips and played. “I will…”
My head heavy I woke sideways this morning, bumping into Nooman in the bathroom and swearing at him, at myself and then clamouring back into bed and switching my alarm off. My excuse for not singing last night was because I had to get home to bed for work. The guy had said that he too had to get up for work, but that was not what was important “This is what counts. Not work.” I definitely could understand what he was saying, although I think Mr. Graham would not quite agree with the sentiment. “When are you going to start earning some decent money?” I did… remember… in England. “Maybe you should think about going back.” I do… and then I decide that it just is not an option. “Oh you could have had so much by now!” I do… I have more.