Friday, December 08, 2017

COLUMN: Country Wedding

An actual photo from the actual wedding.

They say if it's at all possible, you should get a career doing what you love. Well... so far, so good.

I love this grand old dame of a newspaper and all she represents, or else I wouldn't be celebrating my 22nd year of hanging out here every weekday. I love the little "koosh" my office chair makes when I flop into it every morning. I love that first sip of coffee. I love watching my inbox fill up every morning with mail to answer.

But that's Daytime Shane. Nighttime Shane, to no-one's surprise, loves one thing more than anything else: music. I don't have a lick of musical ability myself, but I live my life in awe of those that do. I could change records on my parent's stereo before I could walk (true story.) I've heard tapes of 5-year-old me screaming, "I WANNA BE A DEE JAY!" If I can't be the guy who plays music, the next best thing is being the guy who pushes the "play" button.

My first paid DJ gig was in 1986, when my friends and I were somehow able to convince the administrators at our high school that we were a better and cheaper DJ option than the pros they normally used. I like to think that we weren't lying. When a teen dance club opened up in my hometown, I literally hung out and annoyed the owners until they hired me just to shut me up.

I've been DJing professionally on nights and weekends for 30 years now. Clubs, dances, raves, parties -- you name it. But there's one thing I only agree to do on rare occasion, but this weekend is apparently rare: I'm DJing a wedding.

Let someone else deal with that kinda pressure, I say. When it comes to weddings, I greatly prefer being one of the people on the invite list, just there to have a good time.

Except I'm lying. I'm not a big fan of DJing wedding receptions, but I'm even less a fan of simply GOING to them. Why? Because any reception that I'm at, I'll be forced to sit there and listen to some sub-standard, sub-Shane DJ doing a job I'm better at. I'll question every song that's played. I'll constanly think, "Ooh! I know what song would be PERFECT next!" and then wince when that song never comes. I will armchair-DJ the heck out of that wedding.

I'm not comfortable at a wedding unless I'm the one DJing -- which likely explains why I've never sauntered down the aisle muself. "Sorry, honey, pictures and cake cutting will have to wait. These people need to hear the Cha-Cha Slide."

I'll be fine this weekend, I'm sure. I've DJed over a hundred weddings by now and I've yet to wreck anyone's big day. As good or bad of a DJ that I might be, I'm an even better worrier. Given my track record when it comes to sweeping women off their feet and to the altar, sweating over a DJ gig may be the closest I ever get to "pre-wedding jitters."

So why the worry? I just got their request list. You know, the first dance, the father-daughter dance, mother-groom dance, and so on. And EVERY song on the list is country. This is NOT my world.

I am an expert at Top 40 DJing. I'm even better when it comes to club and EDM music. When it comes to 80s new wave and 70s disco, this DJ might very well save your life. But country? NOT my strong suit. It's not even my weak suit. It's more like a suit I've never worn or wouldn't even buy in the first place. It's a suit that would look awful on me.

"But Shane," you say, "country music tells a story." Yep, it sure does -- especially if you enjoy stories about beer, pickup trucks, and hearts both achy and breaky. It's a world I will never understand. One of the biggest country tunes of the past year was actually called "Huntin', Fishin', and Lovin' Every Day," Which if you think about it translates to "I Really Enjoy Killing Small Animals." Isn't that what got Ozzy Osbourne in trouble all those years ago? Where's the PMRC when we need them? Maybe we need to stop watching Marilyn Manson and keep a better eye on that Luke Bryan fella.

But the country on their list isn't trendy new country. No, it's serious country. Randy Travis, Clint Black, that sorta thing. That's the country music I don't even know. When that stuff was big, I was busy spiking my hair up, wearing trenchcoats, listening to The Cure, and trying desperately hard to be so uncool that it came back around to being cool again.

So I've got some homework to do in the next couple of days. I'm hoping to have enough of that stuff to fake my way through a few songs, but heaven help me if they want that music all night long. I have this horrible fear that I'm going to bust out "Y.M.C.A." and be greeted by the blank stares of a hundred unamused Randy Travis fans.

The bride and groom tell me not to worry. They're "not big music people," they tell me. I don't know what that kind of existence even means. But he assures me that the open bar will have people to the point that "you could bang on a bucket and they'll dance to it." Maybe they'll all be so schnookered that they won't realize their DJ doesn't know Clint Black from Clint Eastwood. Until then, I'll be hopin', prayin', and lovin' every day that I make it through this gig. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a boot-scootin' boogie to attend to in my basement. Pray for me.

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