By Tim Hayes
High school carries countless inferences for people. For many, it represented a time of testing and teasing and tears. For others, it brought brimming waves of temporary glory, all but guaranteed to fade in subsequent years.
High school for me still shines as four years of great friends, great times, and pretty good grades. Music provided the thread that ran through those years, underscoring and underpinning just about everything that made high school such a treasured stitch in time.
One of the most enjoyable musical escapades back then came via a four-piece band I played in called “Limit.” Don’t ask me what that name means. We picked it from a Speed Limit sign outside the lead guitarist’s house one night after practice. Hey, I said we played in a band – nobody said anything about being deep thinkers.
Anyway, Limit comprised a guy on lead guitar, another guy on keyboards, a girl on rhythm guitar, and me on drums and lead vocals. No, that is not a typo. And yes, you may stop laughing now.
We practiced once or twice a week in the lead guitar’s basement, playing Top 40 tunes for the most part, and we actually were pretty good. We played wedding receptions every weekend from May to September, picking up between $100 and $150 per band member per gig. Not bad dough for a bunch of high school kids during the “malaise” years under Jimmy Carter.
While my friends flipped burgers and swept floors for minimum wage, I got to sing and play drums with my friends for some serious cash. Deep thinkers? Maybe not. But budding capitalists? You bet.
The only hitch in this adolescent adventure came by way of our rhythm guitarist’s father. A very nice man, who drove his daughter to practice and to gigs. But unlike the rest of the parents who got us to our performances, this fellow never left. I would like to think that happened because he wanted to protect his daughter, and I’m sure that played a part.
But the primary reason he always hung around, I fear, was that he wanted to sing in a band.
He always struck me as a Vegas lounge crooner who, to his everlasting dismay, never quite landed that big break. How he thought that latching onto a bunch of city-punk high school kids playing wedding receptions and Friday night gigs in local bars was going to improve his odds, I never could figure out.
As Limit got some traction and we lined up some regular dates, this fellow’s hints about singing at least one song with us grew more insistent, until the lead guitarist finally relented. We gave him the one song that none of us wanted – “Feelings,” a four-minute puddle of slush sung by some cat named Morris Albert, which inexplicably clung onto the charts in the mid-70s for way too long. But it was too popular to not have in our set, so this gave us the perfect out.
The only problem came in that our guest vocalist loved that song. Looooved it. Adored it. Wanted to take it out behind the bleachers and play tonsil hockey with it. And, as such, performed the ever-loving hell out of it. At least from his perspective, anyway.
The vocal stylings included some peculiar pronunciations, as in “Feeeeeee-lin’s,” an overly chummy and casual treatment – certainly not the Morris Albert-approved enunciation, “Feeeeee-lings.” Cringeworthy, trust me. We tried to time the song for when the greatest number of people had headed to the bathrooms. But as insufferable as it sounded, we needed his daughter’s rhythm guitar, so he got his shot once each gig. Don’t think he ever made it to Vegas, though. Not as a singer, that’s for sure.
Maybe we turned out to be deeper thinkers than we realized.
Copyright 2015 Transverse Park Productions LLC and Tim Hayes Consulting