It’s funny how a few drinks will make some people think they can sing. Hence the popularity of Karaoke.
I was playing bass one night at the old Rose Room in Nashville and a chick singer got up and wanted to do a song nobody in the band knew. That’s always a risk and could end up in a train wreck, and I’ve never understood why some singers insist on doing a song the band doesn’t know. “We know a couple thousand songs, do one we know”, I told her. “The other band knows it”, she said, pooching her lower lip out petulantly and frowning. “Well, get the other fuckin’ band to come out and back you up, then,” I said, pooching back at her. You know how to tell if there’s a chick singer knocking on your door? She forgot her key and doesn’t know when to come in.
A lot of pro musicians don’t like to back up bad singers, like it’s beneath their dignity or something. You know what? I’ve backed up a bunch of wannabe singers, maybe thousands in 39 years of playing, and it doesn’t bither me a bot if they can’t sing. That’s because I usually don’t even listen to them. I listen to the song – the beat, the chord structure, what the bass is doing. If I remember some signature licks in the song I try to play a version of them, and if I know who the steel player on the session was I might try to get a little whiff of his sound. But singers… I don’t give a shit, most of the time. But then, I always set up as far away from the monitors as I can get. Nobody’s gonna come wandering in and do “A Way To Survive” better than Ray Price or “Wine Me Up” better than Faron Young, so I’m just not interested. I do like those songs, and I’ll play ‘em with anybody. I just ignore the bad singers and have a good time.