I am a failed singer.
I have loved music all of my life. Sadly, I cannot carry a tune to save my life. It’s a great disappointment for me. But it’s true.
In elementary school, I took piano lessons. In high school, I started playing guitar. I describe myself as a hacker on the guitar and can play some chords. Enough to rough out a song. Very quickly after picking up the guitar, I decided that I was actually a bass player. I spent my late teens and early 20s as the bass player in any band that would have me. (FYI – the bass player gets the second least amount of ass in a band. You’ve got to really be devoted to your craft to pick up the bass. If you’re curious, the hierarchy is right here.)
For a period of time after high school and before joining the US Air Force, I worked as a roadie for a band. Those were formative years for me. I gained a brother, developed a deep confidence in myself, and got to figure out who I was in the world. (Thank you, Milkman, for everything!)
Joe, the bass player and elder statesman of the band regularly did a phenomenal Joe Cocker impression. As a young man, I saw Joe as everything that I aspired to. He played bass, sang a few songs, and had some kickass contributions to the humor in the show: Pinkie Poopoo, “why did the cross-eyed school teacher get fired?”, Joe-Scinta-as-John-Belushi-as-Joe-Cocker. I sat next in the back next to the soundboard and absorbed it all.
I started the draft of this post a couple of years ago. (eek!) But my first thought when learning about Joe Cocker’s death was to write about Joe Cocker as a singer. Doing some housekeeping on the blog today I saw the unfinished draft.
Joe deserves better. I’ve never heard anyone talk about Joe Cocker in terms of technical brilliance as a singer. But I’ve heard it said that once Joe has sung a song… it has been sung. I couldn’t agree more. If there was ever a better example of embracing your art, I can’t think of one. Joe Cocker is the best example I can think of for being moved by your art. I think that if you’ve only ever heard Joe sing a song, you’re missing out. You’ve got to see him sing a song. Take a moment and Google it. You won’t be disappointed.
So please accept my own humble tribute of me-as-Joe-Scinta-as-John-Belushi-as-Joe-Cocker. Overcoming my own fear of failure and embracing my craft is a work-in-progress. If I can create my own art with the passion that Joe did, I will count myself fulfilled.
Now (belatedly) I say so long, Joe, and thanks for the memories. I’m better for knowing your songs.