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Debra-Lynn B. Hook: Antidote in times of trouble: Friday night karaoke in the living room

Debra-Lynn B. Hook, Tribune News Service on

Published in Parenting News

It's become a weekly COVID-era pacification in our house: Every Friday night, my 30-something son, his 20-something brother and their Joni/Aretha wanna-be mother shut the living room windows so as not to disturb the neighbors.

Some families do crafts and take bike rides to stave off the COVID slumps.

We bring out the amp and microphone I got for Christmas one year.

And for a few hours, we croon our multiple cares away, them with their signature Hozier and Vampire Weekend, me with my Whitney Houston and Carly Simon, all of us calling up family standards, Don McLean's "Miss American Pie," Arlo Guthrie's "The City of New Orleans," anything Beatles, Avett Brothers, Stevie Wonder or Simon and Garfunkel.

No throwaway "Fever" here, we are serious about our karaoke, maintaining personal queues and focused on crowd pleasers, accurate imitations and multiple genres. Raucous singalongs and air guitar are not unheard of.

Our "Bohemian Rhapsody" shakes the mice out of the rafters.


We are, after all, a family who sings, our repertoire built off generations of listening and singing to music. Starting with my and my husband's childhoods, we have gathered tunes to thread the years, from "West Side Story" and "Sound of Music" hits, to Motown, Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, disco, reggae, Billy Joel, Elton John and the ballads of Jimmy Buffett. These were the songs we'd crank up and belt out on long family road trips, which the kids started adding to as they got older, Indie bands, Mumford & Sons, rap.

And now on any given Friday, all these genres will be covered with decided differences between COVID-sequestered Mom & Sons: Their voices are mega-trained, mine is wrought of a couple of seasons of lessons I bought to accompany the amp and mike. They know hip-hop. I'm more comfortable with funk.

I'm also the one who can go long on stories to accompany my song choices.

"This song reminds me of a boyfriend in Colorado," I say.


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