Late in the Evening, Baby
I go to Women’s Singing Night except tonight it is different. The old timers aren’t there on purpose, having given Noelle, Quinn, and myself – the three young apprentices, one could say – tall orders of “practicing” what we have learned. This is as close to formally recognizing their role in teaching us songs that the old timers have gotten. And of course, the old timers aren’t even old, they’ve just been singing for decades and know songs like a fish knows a river. So far, we’ve met nearly every single week since May and before that we met every other week. We’re ready for this test.
I count thirty-five songs in all, written neatly in my bamboo-cover notebook I keep just for Women’s Singing Night songs. There are others that we have learned since February, but this is the gist of our repertoire as I know it. At first we work in order, taking turns picking a song. But time flies and there are dozens yet to sing. We settle back into our favorites and maybe because it has been a long, hard week – or maybe because Quinn is broken-hearted and Noelle is beautiful but alone and I am I-don’t-know we sing a sultry, jazzy, sexy-woman song to cheer ourselves up:
Early in the morning,
Middle of the afternoon,
Late in the evening baby,
That’s when I think about you.
The first line starts out with a low rumble, the second line raises 1/3 of an octave, and the last line – Laaaate – rings high and sweet then drops down to a spine-tickling base note – baby – for the resolution of the song, that’s when I think about you.
We sing this over and over and do not even attempt the round. At first I imagine that each of us holds our own muses in our heads and hearts, singing for men that are somewhere out there. But the song grows and our voices swell together, we get up and walk around while we sing. Some snapping and foot-tapping begins, and now in my mind we are Hot Summer Nights, we are Chicago at the Kingston Mines Club, we are three crowded around a microphone, drooling onlookers gawking at our bluesy confidence, we are, we are, we are, and then some. All thoughts of men escape my mind – yes! – this song is ours, the moments is ours, we breath and swing for no one but ourselves, together, one breath, a voice in triplicate, singing our way up up and out the windows, into the foggy night – uplifted – as it should be.