It just doesn't get any better than to see one of my buddies - I'll call him "Honeyboy" - do his thing with a Mic at a Karaoke Bar whether it be in Tokyo or Penn Station. His specialty? Elvis.
Big Hunk O' Love, Suspicious Minds, Hound Dog, All Shook Up, Return to Sender, Viva Las Vegas ... he can do 'em all.
But his favorite Karaoke song? "Take a Letter Maria." He performed it at a near-professional level one night in a run-down joint across from NYC's Madison Square Garden and the crowd roared its approval - although, somehow, as the night went on and unbeknownst to our group - the "crowd" was increasingly male and wearing feather boas. But, that's another story.
So, as you might expect, Honey's all-time fave is not Elvis. It is Tom Jones. Yes, that Tom Jones.
I learned this when we actually met "the" Tom Jones on one of our many amazing NBA global excursions, as Tom Jones and his Band were staying at our same hotel in Milan for the '99 NBA/FIBA McDonald's Championship. Chris and his wonderful bride frequented Jones' concerts and when they did, they would immediately lower average age at the concert by 20 as they entered the venue.
So, in the spirit of the days when you would make a cassette tape of "your favorite songs of your friends' favorite music," here is my favorite all-time Tom Jones song - "What's New Pussy Cat," dedicated to the young 73 year old Jones, performing somewhere, someplace sometime soon and it also goes out to my good friend, Chris. He is one for the ages and visions of him "doing" "Take a Letter, Maria" still brings me to tears of joy and laughter this very day.
Cee Bee - tonight, toast to your man TJ on his 73rd - and this one's for you!