Every so often I’ll write about the average person’s strange inability (refusal?) to sing the “Happy Birthday” song on key. It happened again last night at the home of director Phillip Noyce. 30 or so guests wished a good one to his beautiful wife, Vuyo Dyasi, but the singing hurt. And some of them were showbiz people, whom you might think would have some respect for the idea of hitting notes. Listening to that song being murdered is awful. I was standing next to two of the assassins, and I couldn’t even imitate how horrendously off-key they were. Imagine a Vietnamese water buffalo groaning while being repeatedly stabbed in the chest.
That aside, it was a lovely holiday gathering. Great people, good food and real Chicago-like temperatures (as it was partly happening in the back yard). Thanks for inviting me, guys.
Posted on 7.31.13: “I can’t sing like a professional or even a gifted amateur, but I can definitely sing ‘Happy Birthday’ on-key. Which is more than 97% of your Average Joes and Janes can manage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to a table of restaurant revelers try to sing it and not hit a single true note. It’s pathetic. We’re not talking about singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ here. Bad singing is all about emotional timidity. Singing on-key takes a certain open-heartedness. You can’t be covert about it. All I know is that every time a table launches into ‘Happy Birthday’ I grimace and go “oh, God…here we go.”
Posted in 2012: “How hard is it to sing on-key? For many people, it can’t be done. I’ve sat in restaurants and listened to people absolutely murder the ‘Happy Birthday’ tune — and singing that song is about as easy as it gets. It’s not just hitting notes — you also have to slide into them, sustain them. Wake me up at 4 in the morning and I’ll sing ‘Your Smiling Face’ perfectly in terms of phrasing and hitting notes. Same thing with ‘Be-Bop Baby.'”