We Could All Learn Something From the Biker Tearfully Singing "Danny Boy" At Karaoke

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We Could All Learn Something From the Biker Tearfully Singing "Danny Boy" At Karaoke
Illustration by Mike Gorman

Karaoke can be a dangerous endeavor. What can you sing that won't make friends shun you? How can you go balls-out during your next performance? Each week in "Ask a Karaoke Host," RFT Music writer and professional karaoke host Allison Babka answers your burning questions about maximizing your melodious mutterings and minimizing your friends' pain. Ask her stuff by emailing [email protected] or hashtagging #rftkaraoke on Twitter.

In your time as a karaoke host, what performance has shocked you the most? What was your "Susan Boyle moment," if you will? -- Shock the Monkey

A lot of weird crap happens at karaoke, so I hardly register anything as "shocking" anymore. In the past, I used to be awed by grand performances. Now, though, I have so many regulars singing "their songs" -- good and bad -- that most Fridays are simply alright.

The stuff that imprints into my brain the most has more to do with emotion than singing prowess. One night, a new guy was sitting at the bar. He was tough-looking, with a long scraggly beard, well-worn Harley-Davidson jacket and plenty of tattoos. He occasionally talked to people around him, but it didn't seem like he had come in with anyone. About 30 minutes after I started the show, he asked me how to be put into the rotation. When his turn eventually came around, he sincerely and tearfully spoke at length about a friend -- a soldier and fellow biker -- who had just passed away, and then he launched into one of the most beautiful renditions of "Danny Boy" I'd ever heard. The man sang exactly what was in his heart and what was meaningful to his late friend, and it was nearly impossible not to be moved by that. The crowd was stunned, and I fought to hold myself together.

You know how I wrote last week about music being like The Force? Well, this guy definitely had The Force, and he wielded it beautifully and powerfully.

If I asked you very nicely to harmonize with me on Skynyrd's "Simple Man," would you? -- Saturday Night Special

I'm happy to jump into a duet with just about anyone. But really? A six-minute Skynyrd song? Get the hell out of my bar before I Force-choke you. I'll even give you three steps.

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