My Greatest Fear #6: Piano Bars

I just got a Facebook event invitation to a party a friend of mine is having this weekend. The time and date checked out, so I looked at the location: Jive and Wail, a local Piano Bar. My reaction?

Hell no.

Before you have an unnecessarily strong reaction to this, please note that I have absolutely nothing against piano bars. It’s a brilliant concept, really. Get people together to sing, drink, and be merry. Love the idea.

I went to my first piano bar, a place in St. Louis called the Big Bang, about 8 years ago. I walked out a few hours later a bit puzzled. I knew that I should have had a good time. My friends had a good time. The other people seemed to have a good time. The piano players had a great time. Yet something was off.

So I went again a few years later. This time I figured out exactly what was wrong: The key to having a good time at a piano bar is knowing lyrics to songs. Classic songs that everybody knows the lyrics to: Born to Run. Piano Man. American Pie. Tiny Dancer. We Didn’t Start the Fire.

I don’t know any lyrics.

So at the piano bar, while everyone else is leaning back and belting out every lyric in perfect harmony, I’m either (a) singing along with the made-up lyrics that I’ve always used or, more likely (b) not singing at all. I also happen to be a terrible singer, so that doesn’t help.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Who cares? Just enjoy your drink in the company of your friends!” At any other bar that would work. But this is a bar where every five minutes, the piano player strums a few keys, and all of a sudden everyone in the place is looking at each other like excited puppies, hugging each other and exchanging high-fives like they just won the lottery again. They’re thinking: “I love this song!” I’m thinking: “Please just play one song over and over so I can start to catch on.”

Never happens.

I think the problem is that I don’t hear lyrics when I listen to songs. I hear the sounds, but not the lyrics. Which suits my needs just fine. When I’m singing along with Mr. Flo Rida in the car, I’m happy singing the Jamey version of the chorus: “You spin me round right righta round round spin me round baby spin me spin me round now.” It’s only when you take this fish out of water and put him in a piano bar that this fish drowns.

Do you have any types of bars like that where you’re really uncomfortable? Clubs? Trivia nights? Karaoke nights?