Friday, May 20, 2005

This Time I Know It's For Real - by Rob Williams

Another iPod story, well, sorta-- I mean, it starts with my iPod (sorry, but it's only because I’m finally figuring out how to really use it). I’m walking home from teaching again, listening to songs on random shuffle and what should come on but

"This Time I Know It's For Real"-- the kitschy dance song from Donna Summer's mini-comeback (about 17 years ago?).  It's from the "Donna Summer Anthology" CD.  ... and here's a memory:

It’s 1989. I’m about 19 years old in San Diego, California. I’m writing music, singing in weddings --solo, and duet--with my high school chum, Jana, who was a former cheerleader. Our big song was "Always" by Atlantic Star, though we did have a sensuous cover of "Endless Love." Ahem.

I was also singing backup at a recording studio for various local artists (and even making my own demo tape--but that's another blog).

I see an ad in a local music magazine about open mic nights at a local TGIFridays (or was it Bennigan's?--I can't remember, maybe I've blocked it out). The prize is like, $100 or something. But more than that, it's a chance to perform...

What song do I choose? Well, I had recently gotten the 12" single/remix of "This Time I Know It's For Real"-- it had special meaning for me at the time-- it's all about trying to get a boy's attention ("What do I have to do... to get you, to notice me too? Do I stand in line, one of a million admiring eyes. Walk a tightrope way up high. Write your name across the sky..."). There is an instrumental version of the song on the flip side of the record so I tape it (At the recording studio? On my home tape recorder? Again, the memory is hazy-- but I’m hoping it wasn't taped on a tape recorder).

So I sing the song, "This Time I Know It's For Real" at this open mic night. My sister, Allyson, bless her, comes to support me. I think I wore a purple Members Only Jacket and maybe a bow tie (tuxedo shirt? God, please tell me it wasn't a tuxedo shirt).

The other contestants included a 9 year-old singing "It's a Hard Knock Life" with backing vocals on her tape of all the orphans from Annie.

There were about 10 contestants and maybe 12 people in the audience, and the tv was still playing over the bar during our songs. I did my number, sang my song, which I’m sure included any one or all of the following: a. jazz hands, b. some sort of Paula Abdul inspired choreography like popping my head back, rolling my head, shimmy-ing my shoulders, c.quivering lips, d. overdone vibrato.

I remember looking out into the sparse crowd and seeing my sister, with this smile on her face that said, "Yes, you're my brother and yes I love you, but what the hell are you doing?"

Well, I didn't win the contest. I think my dancing (yes, I did some dancing while singing my song) probably scared the voters.

I used to be so brave, so fearless. Now the thought of doing something like that sends shivers up my spine (not to mention a wave of embarrassment).

Where did all of that fearlessness go?

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