Thursday, June 5, 2008

Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds?

When I was 15 years old my older brother started a band with two guys who are also brothers. The idea was that they would put together a country and western band for their sisters wedding. The guys used to rehearse in our basement because our parents were cool about that type of thing. They honestly enjoyed having assorted bad teenage bands in the basement on Saturday afternoons. Afterwords my Dad would say things like, "That drummer doesn't really know how to keep time too well." or "I think you need a new guitar player." He was usually right.

Being 15 and already being a somewhat experienced singer, I was hanging out a lot and learning all the words to the songs. Of course when the singer they had in mind for the band dropped out I told them I would sing for them until they found someone else. So there I was singing country classics at the age of 15, singing about heartache and love and drinkin' and never having experienced any of those things. I did develop a powerful crush on the drummer who was about 10 years older than me, but that's another story. After the first rehearsal the guys decided that I would be the new singer for The Ramblin' Rose Band and we had exactly one gig, the wedding, and we would learn enough material to do the whole reception.

When the wedding day finally arrived we were as ready as we could be. I had to sing the first waltz for the newly married couple, Can I Have This Dance (For The Rest Of My Life). I was so nervous in the beginning but as the night wore on it was getting more and more fun, the crowd was getting into it pretty heavily and I discovered my new calling. The reception ended up being an epic party that went late into the wee hours with lots of drinking and bridesmaids getting felt up and people telling each other what they REALLY thought of each other. I figure I sang for about 4 hours straight and I think when we ran out of material we just started at the beginning of the set list and played them all again. I loved every minute of it!

After the wedding the guys thought we should continue with the band and see if we could get some more gigs. One of the brothers lined up a bunch of shows in a row at a series of Legion Halls around the province that would require us to go on the road for a few days. I couldn't believe my luck. I mean this is exactly what I wanted to be doing. I figured I would go on the road for a while, who cares about school, I'd hone my chops and be a star by the time I could legally get in bars at 19. My parents were not so excited. They were dubious at first and never really agreed to any of it but things seemed to move forward anyway with me in denial and knowing it would all work out.

The weekend before the "tour" my brother was out for a jog at night in a local park. Running down a path, minding his own business when he was stopped short by an almost invisible chain pulled across the path. When your legs stop moving and the rest of you doesn't the natural thing to do is to throw your arms in front of you to stop your face from hitting the ground. When a person falls that hard with their arms straightened in front of them the results can be devastating. In his case it resulted in multiple fractures to BOTH elbows. He came home from the emergency room with both arms in casts crossed over his chest. Needless to say my Country and Western career was over for a while. The tour was cancelled.

Years later I sustained an almost identical injury to one of my elbows involving roller skates and homegrown. Sitting in the local Emergency room the doctor came in to give me the bad news. He said it was broken and it would require surgery eventually. I was crushed. In a bid to make me feel better the Doctor said, "Don't feel too bad, a couple of years ago I had a guy in here that broke BOTH his elbows!" He was talking about my brother.
Do you think things happen for a reason?

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