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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 31, 2002

Your song might reveal what vibrates deep in your soul

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

The first time I heard the question, I was taken aback: "What's your song?"

In some circles, it's the question that comes just after "where you wen grad?" and "who your fada?"

Sometimes, it's actually the first question asked, the ultimate shorthand get-to-know-you question.

The underlying theory is that everyone has their one karaoke song. It's not necessarily their favorite song to listen to; more likely, it's the one song they can sing (or at least THINK they can sing).

That song choice speaks volumes about a person's "inner being." It is a direct-dial line to some very personal information.

Consider the big, tough man who sings "Color My World." There he is, sitting in the corner booth in his 4XL navy blue SHOPO shirt, his dark glasses dipped just low enough to see the words on the screen, the microphone almost lost in his mitt of a hand, singing his vulnerability, giving voice to his softer side. It's powerful to witness. (Just don't let braddah catch you staring.)

Then there's the shrinking violet from your office who never, ever (even in 90-degree weather) removes the sweater from her sweater-and-mu'umu'u combination. Inevitably, she'll take everyone by surprise by growling out, "I Will Survive" like a woman possessed. Whoa! The sweater comes off, the tiger comes out! You make a mental note to give her a wide berth at the office coffee pot Monday morning.

The choices are most often surprising. Sure, sometimes the guy singing "Rhinestone Cowboy" IS a rhinestone cowboy, but more often it's a study in opposites. The quiet, shy, unassuming types often pick some lung-clearing, throat-tearing heavy metal piece like Led Zepplin's "Rock and Roll," which has that octave-spanning "lonely-lonely-lonely" part that offers a real opportunity to sink or swim. The grumpy, jaded ones pick songs so treacly and precious that even Michael Bolton would roll his eyes.

Of course, in this world of image-consciousness and spin-doctoring, the song a person CLAIMS is their song may not truly BE their song, only the song they want you to associate with them. To your face they may claim their song is "I Will Always Love You" but when they get to Wisteria and the mic is in their hand, you'll catch them singing "The Wanderer." It may not suffice to just ask. There may be some field investigation required.

My colleague Scott Ishikawa, the resident newsroom crooner (well, there are actually a lot of them at The Advertiser, but Scott is widely known as the Luther Vandross of the news department) answers The Question in deference to his wife: "I like lots of songs, but Gwen likes to hear 'Lady in Red,' so I guess that's my song."

Good answer.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.