Singing in the car is so natural and so much fun that I usually don’t worry about the reactions of other motorists. Other than the occasional pedestrians who think that I’m yelling at them, most people (if they look at me at all), just smile and turn away as I wave and keep on singing. I have to admit that I did feel a little sheepish this morning when a policeman pulled alongside me just as Robert Palmer and I were Sneaking Sally through the Alley in our funkiest duet. (I even sing the percolating bass line to that song. I love it.) The officer has obviously seen plenty of middle-aged madwomen singing the songs of their youth because he just drove away.
And it is almost always the songs of my youth that compel me to sing along at full voice. If you’ve ever seen the opening scene of Les Intouchables, that’s how cool I like to imagine I am when I sing and bop along to “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire. Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Sangria Wine” calls for a big, round open-mouthed kind of howling along while the Kinks’ “L-O-L-A” requires a crisper enunciation. Zipping along the freeway in the aural privacy of my car, I can sing all of these without a trace of self-consciousness. But a few of my must-sing-with songs are so corny that I don’t want people, even strangers, to know that I like them. Suddenly, the worst of these, my guiltiest pleasure, Billy Squier’s “Lonely in the Dark” comes on the radio. And I‘m in rush-hour, city street traffic with cars to the left of me, cars to the right. This is such a classically terrible 70s song with screaming one note guitar solos and a medium tempo head-banging, hair-swinging kind of beat, but it has a certain appeal. I resist for the first verse, doing the ventriloquist kind of sing-along with the goofy lyrics: “it’s on your head, it’s a habit that’s hard to break”. Try it: you can sing most of that line without moving your lips. By the second chorus, I can’t hold it in anymore. I must harmonize with Billy as we belt out the brilliant question: “Can you break away from your alibis/ can you make a play, will you meet me in the dark?’ By the time we get to the “don’tcha need me, hey hey” climax, all my dignity is gone.
But I’m in a great mood, and my lucky husband gets to hear me give my solo performance all through our dinner preparation. Oh yeah.