I Play in an Imaginary Band

When in doubt I whip it out
I got me a rock and roll band *


Who hasn’t wanted to play in a rock band? Especially if you grew up fantasizing about Led Zeppelin or got the shivers when Boston sang, “But when we got up on stage and got ready to play, everybody listened”?I used to be able to sing, until this goiter ate my larynx. Pat Benetar never had anything to worry about; in fact, I couldn’t sing “rock” at all. I actually majored in OPERA, if you can believe that. Luckily I came to my senses (i.e., flunked out) and changed to a much more sensible English major as a sophomore.

I also used to play guitar. Again, not as a rocker, but more as a soulful strummer. I had a huge crush on my guitar teacher, which was to mark the beginning of my obsession with musicians. When he sang “This Guy’s in Love with You” at a recital, I knew he was singing to me. I was ten. Anyway, if you can’t be in a rock band, you can pretend.

In college I played in an imaginary band with four guy friends. We were called Za, and the origin of that name is too strange even for me to go into, but it involved a magician’s dummy named Oscar. Our credentials: Tom was a music major and could actually play keyboards. I was a former music major who could sing that orgasm song by Pink Floyd and had won a 2d place trophy for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” in a local (but rocking) guitar competition. The other three guys, Matt, Frank, and Dave “Bobbin'” Robbin, were good at air guitar, banging on pots and pans, and being stoned.

Our gigs were held in Tom’s apartment and consisted of heavy drinking, some “jamming” to U2 and Foreigner, making egg rolls, and writing up playlists for our imaginary concerts. We each had a middle name, a la Matt “Guitar” Murphy. Mine was “Maneater.” The less said about that the better. The night usually ended with a fight over songwriting credit and all of us disbanding in a drunken stupor.

But college was a long time ago. Now I’m all grown up and I play in an imaginary band that exists only in my mind. As much as I miss my guy bandmates, this is way better. Za was limited by the constraints of our abilities, or lack thereof. My imaginary band knows no limits.

In my imaginary band there are more laser beams, a bigger stage, panting fans, and tattoos. I also seem to be a lot more flexible. You wouldn’t believe the things I can do on stage. Mid-air splits? Definitely. That sliding on your knees thing while playing a vicious riff? No problem. Of course I’m thinner, sexier, younger, but, strangely, my hair and butt are exactly the same. It’s funny the things you don’t change in your fantasies. The band has no name; the other members are sort of blurry and unimportant. It’s all about me, you see. JD, vocals and lead guitar. And sometimes tambourine.

In the audience is everyone who ever slighted me, doubted me, teased me, or dared to sleep with me once and then ignore me in the dorm hallway, STEVE. Also in attendance are all ex-boyfriends with their current wives/girlfriends who are in awe and jealous beyond control. AND my former guitar teacher, who is now probably about 80 and regretting that he didn’t put the moves on me 36 years ago. My friends are there too, of course, amazed that they’ve never seen this side of me. “I always thought she was kind of shy.” “I didn’t know she could sing.” “Her ass is magical!”

I’ve got great guitar routines down for “Don’t Look Back” (Boston), “Ridin’ the Storm Out” (REO Speedwagon), and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” (AC/DC). Don’t even get me started on my Led Zeppelin repertoire. When I sing, “We come from the land of the ice and snow, From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow,” you feel like you are there. I do a great Bono. I’m also lead fiddle on “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” so you can see I’m quite versatile. Newer bands like The Darkness, Jet, and even Tenacious D have provided me with a wealth of material to perform in my fertile brain.

It’s a pity you can’t see me in action.

If you want to play in an imaginary rock band:
  • Karaoke is one option. You can download songs with the vocals cut out and practice in front of your mirror until you’re good enough to sing in a club.
  • Become a Guitar Hero. Vocals optional.
  • If Guitar Hero is too advanced, start out slow with some air guitar.

* Today’s lyrics are courtesy of Ted “The Nuge” Nugent