There is a woman in a Subaru at the traffic light. Bill Wyman’s bass from the RollingStones “Gimme Shelter” is booming through the speakers and she is singing Merry Clayton’s legendary screaming harmony to Mick Jagger at the top of her lungs, oblivious of anyone who might see her. She’s making these rock star faces as she sings and is shaking her head around. She plays a little Keith Richards air guitar. She has sunglasses on and this wild ponytail of crazy hair pulled high at the top of her head which is sticking up like the spray from a fountain, sort of like a Cockatiel. On closer inspection, she’s not especially young. She looks at least middle-aged, if not older. As a matter of fact, her hair is white.
The woman in the Subaru – a Subaru wagon no less – is me, and I am on my way home from work.
Sometimes I just can’t help myself. Lately, when this feeling comes over me (and it often happens in the morning as well as any other time) I will periodically check to make sure that my cell phone has not accidentally dialed someone (like my boss) who could then be receiving a ten minute recording of something incredibly embarrassing that might someday be used as leverage. I also try to check my speed while this is happening, because being a rock star in the car seems to also correspond with being a lead-foot on the gas pedal, at least for me. I have to watch that.
The truth is, I am a Hairbrush Diva. I spent my youth belting it out with Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick and Aretha Franklin, standing there in front of the mirror and using my hairbrush as a microphone. With such incredible, raw power in their voices, how could you feel anything but powerful yourself while emulating them? OK, not that I did it especially very well, mind you, but it’s the emotion that counts when you are doing the diva-in-the-mirror routine.
The Hairbrush Diva thing is not just limited to singing though, and it’s not just limited to women. I had a few Jim Morrison and Joe Cocker moves down, have done a little Roger Daltry and even my version of a Bob Dylan monotone. I also play a whole lot of air guitar. Carlos Santana, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton leads; some bass lines that Noel Redding did with the Jimi Hendrix Experience or a little of John Entwhistle with The Who, among others. More contemporary stuff too, but I really am attached to the original rock greats. I know this dates me. I don’t care, I am a Diva in my own mind……
At one point, as part of my Bucket List, I actually started recording with an incredibly patient and encouraging musician friend, who joked that we should make an album and call it Hairbrush Diva (actually, I think there might be a group called The Hairbrush Divas, but, whatever…); he had some great ideas. The fact is, I really can’t sing very well anymore, not that I ever did. We had a lot of fun with it, but it didn’t go anywhere…. I think it was almost as much fun just to think about it – the fantasy was a pretty entertaining ride, maybe more entertaining than the reality.
So….my secret is out. That might be me flying past you in the left lane, drumming on the steering wheel to Baba O’Reilly…… I guess it’s true that you’re never to old to rock and roll……