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?

11 thoughts on “My Greatest Fear #6: Piano Bars”

  1. This is hilarious. I love this post! As a resolution, perhaps you could be the really cool guy in the corner who has printed off a binder of popular song lyrics and is following along while holding his notebook. 😉

    Because I am also a horrendous singer, I avoid karaoke nights at all times.

    • Ha ha…I was thinking about that as a solution (bringing my own lyrics). But solution number one (not going to piano bars) trumps that one.

      I’m with you on karaoke. Unless I’m in a private karaoke box with friends and many alcohols in Japan in 2001. Then it’s fine.

  2. The Jive and Wail Dueling Piano was fun! I was there two weekends ago and had a blast. I, too, don’t know the lyrics to songs, so I hum along, sit dance, and chit chat with people. Karaoke is better for me. I like karaoke with friends and family.

    Clubs are the worst for me! I just don’t know what to do with my extremities. I feel awkward dancing in front of strangers, especially men in the dark corners of the clubs. *Shiver*

    • I hear you about the clubs. Totally. It is possible for me to have a good time at clubs, but I really have to be in the mood. Otherwise I just stand there and look around like a deer in headlights. Headlights made of women.

  3. I’m going to go all out and say that I don’t feel comfortable in karaoke bars, piano bars, clubs, or almost any bar that includes live music. I will be going to said piano bar (I assume it’s the same piano bar invitation you got) this weekend, but I’m definitely apprehensive about it. I don’t like to sing or dance, and I don’t enjoy going anywhere where I have to talk over music. My ideal bar with music is a quiet jazz or blues bar with a weathered old guy whose wrinkles tell stories strumming a guitar or slowly playing a saxophone.

    • Oh, I hear you. Definitely. That’s essentially my idea of the best bar ever too, but I’d throw in that it’s nonsmoking and that there are no TVs. TVs are just too distracting for me.

  4. I don’t mind going to the Big Bang and hanging out with friends, having drinks, and moving around to the music – even if I don’t know the lyrics. But … what WAS embarassing was when the bouncer next to the stage started doing the YMCA and panned the crowd with his flashlight, looking for people who weren’t up singing and dancing – and he pointed to our table. (We were at a bachelorette party.) We shook our heads no and laughed it off – and he literally stared us down and kept pointing the flashlight at us until we stood up, sang along, and did the YMCA!

    And Jasmin, I agree with you about feeling awkward dancing in front of strangers at clubs, especially the guys who lurk in dark corners. Eek!

  5. Great article

    I know how learning piano can be. My brother is a really good piano player, and myself I am making my way as professional .

    I recommend to anyone who’s thinking of starting to playing piano to read a book or two on this topic, as there so many mistakes and blunders that are possible to make when you first start. And keep playing each and everyday!

    Thank you for sharing this with your readers.

    • Yes! Totally agree about line dancing. If I’m going to dance (i.e., at a wedding), I just want to have fun with it, not try to follow all of these precise steps like a robot reading a manual on how to be human.


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