Friday, May 27, 2016

Bad Case of Loving You

We had a regular gig at strip mall dive bar in Chula Vista, between a 99 cent Chinese restaurant and an all-night laundromat. Across the parking lot was a Denny's. We parked and loaded our stuff out back. About ten yards separated us from the retaining wall that kept drunks out of the adjoining apartment complex, which probably had enough drunks of its own.

The bartenders were cool, mostly women. At least one of them had done hard time and provided good anecdotal evidence that rehabilitation could work. The bouncer was a mountain of a man who rarely lost his cool, and for good reason. We made friends with him and the women serving drinks. You never know what will happen in a place like that, and you want as many people on your side as possible.

First set is always “oldies” (Beatles, Eagles, softer stuff from the '60s and '70s). Second set is AOR (Tom Petty, .38 Special, etc.). Third is dance tunes (“You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Play That Funky Music,” “Brick House,” etc.). Fourth is straight-up shitkicker music (Steppenwolf, Judas Priest, Bush, White Stripes, anything aggressive).

There's grandmas, bikers, gangbangers, tweakers in the joint on any given night. Some folks fall into more than one category, and most get along well enough, even after a few too many.

One night we're playing as usual and this couple at the corner of the bar nearest me (stage right) starts getting into it, just yelling at each other. It gets physical as we're wrapping up a song. They're right in front of me as we start the next song, which I sing: “Bad Case of Loving You.”

Doorman jumps in, hauls them away. I eventually stop laughing long enough to blurt out the first line.

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