Unexpected Song

Three hundred and thirty-six miles to Lakeview. The “reason” for our trip to Southern Oregon was to have my picture taken in front of a “Welcome to Paisley” sign while wearing polka dots. Though there really wasn’t an official sign; I guess the town was too small for that – there wasn’t even one of those little green signs that announces your arrival by announcing the population and elevation as you roll through. There was a handmade sign, and the photo session began. When we fulfilled our mission, we were on our way. The eight rooms in Paisley’s one motel were all booked, so on to Lakeview we went. Lakeview, OR — population 2,294.

Hmmm — did I dress right for this party?

Dinner time. We walked around town to check our options, landing at the Eagle’s Nest because we saw several people at the bar wearing “non-ironic” cowboy hats, as my friend put it. They left soon after we arrived, however, having finished their beers. Their meals were probably waiting for them at home, or perhaps people eat earlier here. It was pushing seven by the time we sat down among the elk heads and large-mouthed bass.

Our server wore acid-wash jeans, had big hair, and was kind. She was only one working the floor, and although she worked hard, she managed to keep a relaxed pace. The food was good, and the drink fine (I upgraded my gin and tonic to Bombay). Country music predictably played in the background – then it got conspicuously louder. Eight o’clock and the evening entertainment was about to begin.


Or would it begin? There weren’t many people in the bar: Mr. Kerry the KJ (no clue if that’s his first or last name) and his wife, two guys wearing Ducks T-shirts shooting pool, a pair of very drunk men, an older guy sitting at the bar, and the three of us. Then one of the drunk guys helped the other out the door; they barely made it. The KJ was nursing a sore throat and could barely manage singing Joe Cocker (though he gave it a good try). It was up to the man at the bar to carry the evening. His first selection was a blues number I wasn’t familiar with. I heard him say he was inspired by Mr. Kerry’s illness and declared it raspy voice night. As he sang, a large tag from his straw swung back and forth.

The other singer, complete with dangling hat tag.

I wasn’t going to sing, but of course I did. I was pretty sure that this was going to be the first time I’d sing karaoke in Oregon outside of the Portland Metro area – couldn’t pass that up. So I wandered over to Mr. Kerry and within moments I was singing Sylvia’s Nobody. It was one of the few country-esque songs I could think of that fit the understated tone of the bar without being too slow. After straw-hat man sang Hello Dolly, I followed with Jack and Diane. Somehow that song seemed made for that place. The waitress danced as she moved around the bar.

We left around 9:30 and headed to our motel. Closing time was 10pm, so I guess we didn’t miss much. Another Saturday night in small-town Southern Oregon.