Never say never
My mom took me on a cruise from Seattle to Alaska and British Columbia in September. We spent most of our time playing cards with a woman named Betty we’d met in the library. One day Betty asked me if I had ever considered performing on a cruise ship. I responded with the same line I’d been using for 25 years: "I don't think I'd like playing other people's music for a living." Betty slowly nodded her head and dealt us another hand.
While disembarking the following day, however, as my mother and I went through our ritual of trying to find places to stowaway on the boat so we could sail the high seas indefinitely, I began to wonder what could possibly be better than getting paid to travel and play music. So I spent our weekend in Seattle researching the trade, figuring once I got home to San Francisco I would spend a couple of months building my repertoire and checking out different hiring agencies and cruise lines.
Four days later my friend Christina Michelle decided out of the blue to forward me an e-mail announcing Carnival Cruise Lines would be holding auditions in San Francisco the following Saturday. How serendipitous! In an instant my two months of scheduled planning had been reduced to two days, and I found myself rushing through a crash course in “Pop Songs of the 21st Century”.
The crash course came in handy at my audition when I was asked to play a song to kick off a spring break cruise, and launched into a spirited version of “Shut Up and Dance”. The fun didn’t last long, though, as I was thrown off my game when I was informed I would have to significantly trim down the nine-minute, multi-genre medley I’d prepared (see video below). But not even botching the lyrics to “All About That Bass” and forgetting the chords to “For Once in My Life” (again) could keep me from getting my sailor’s stripes: two days later I was presented with an offer to join the crew of the Carnival Sunshine.
So my next adventure has me setting sail on 31 December for four months in the Caribbean. Now…which songs do you think I should cover whilst onboard?