Saturday, July 2, 2011

How I almost sang the “Golden Girls” theme song to a crowd of Indonesian teachers

Please do this:
Right now - think of any songs to which you know all of the words. All of the words. By heart and without musical accompaniment. As you do that, let me continue on with my story, and, as we used to like to say in the insurance biz - we will circle back. I think you know where I am going with this. 

A couple of days ago, I went with the teachers from my school and their families on a trip to Sarangan Lake. In the evening, we ate dinner, which was followed by a lively karaoke session. The line-up was only Indonesian songs, of which I know none. I was being violently prodded to perform in front of the crowd of about 50 people. I would have done this gladly, but the music was provided by a live keyboardist. In addition, there were no lyrics available.

This brings me to your assignment. What songs do you know all of the words to? In the crowded basement with Indonesian karaoking occurring at a decibel just beyond what is comfortable – I was nervously racking my brain to try to think of what I could deliver effectively on such short notice. Not only did I have to remember the words, but it had to be in a reasonable range for my horrible singing voice. I was wishing I could get my hands on that master catalogue of crowd-pleasing karaoke songs that Trish carries around with her at all times. Here is the list I came up with under the gun, and I was appalled at the results:  

  • Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice
  • Various selections from Radiohead
  • The soundtracks of Newsies, High School Musical (1 and 2, still a little rusty on 3), Les Miserables and Rent
  • Like a Prayer by Madonna
  • More Than Words by Extreme
  • Various TV theme songs, none of which are from this decade

Unacceptable. I mean, no Michael Jackson?! I am ashamed of myself. I could probably muster something up in mid-chorus, but, on the spot, I could not, for the life of me, remember how any one song started. I blame all of the years of cramming my brain with insurance jargon and calculations. I successfully pushed out all of the good and useful knowledge I once possessed – how “Heal the World” starts, for one. 

So I asked what songs in English the keyboardist knew, hoping that would provide me with some direction, and I received an answer that I never in a million years would have anticipated: “Maybe you can sing something by The Scorpions?”

Hmm. I love a nice version of Wings of Change as much as the next guy, and Rock You Like a Hurricane brings back enjoyable memories of the uncomfortable reaction from wedding guests in response to my brother Michael’s dance performance to that song. However, I certainly couldn’t successfully execute either song with no lyrics handy. 

Ruling out those, along with Justin Bieber and Westlife (does anyone know this band?) as the only other English music the keyboardist knew, I was at a loss. 

So, I resolved I would get up there and do something short, something I knew from beginning to end, and something that was in a non-Peter Brady voice-croaking range. The “Golden Girls” theme song was going to have to be it. I knew “Growing Pains” or “Laverne & Shirley” would have a more applicable message, but with my slow brain competing with the racket of other people singing, I couldn’t remember how those started.  “A Different World” just wouldn’t fit, and “Perfect Strangers” was way too advanced vocally. 

Prepped to dazzle with my ode to the glamorous gals of Miami Beach, I was completely deflated when the head of the office of religion from Surabaya showed up, and all karaoking was ceased.

Readers, I don’t have many regrets in life, but this is certainly one. Let this be a lesson to us all that we must seize these moments as they present themselves. We must stand up and be heard when it is asked of us. We must ready our minds and hearts and voices for that day when someone needs us to sing a song from their favorite Canadian or German singer. We must prepare ourselves for the time when we need to start a chorus of “Send Me an Angel” as a way to honorably represent America. For, if we linger too long, these precious gems of opportunities can tragically pass us by. Our country is counting on us, and one thing’s for sure - next time, I sure as heck won’t let her down.


  1. Awesome. Great selection. Lol

  2. Choose more than words next time, I'm pretty sure many Indonesians know this :D

    Westlife is an Irish boyband. That time when backstreet boys were phasing out, the brit (and their extension) were still producing boybands actively and Westlife is one that comes from Ireland :)