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Jake Old: Performing at my brother’s wedding is the coolest thing I’ve done

Jake Old • Updated Oct 20, 2016 at 12:00 PM

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

I remember being asked that in college. It was a philosophy class — of course — and the question was posed to the class by one of my fellow students.

One of our assignments was to find the most thought-provoking question we could think of, and pose it to the rest of the class. We would then vote as a class on which one we thought was the most interesting — with the professor’s vote being heavily weighted — and there was a series of assignments that would involve the chosen question in various ways.

I don’t remember the question I posed, which is probably a good indication that it wasn’t all that thought provoking, and I’m not certain that this particular question was the one that was chosen. I just know the question stood out to me because it is simultaneously simple and complex, and because some kid actually used the word “cool” in an assignment like that. 

Regardless, it’s a question that I actually think about quite a bit. Depending on how you want to define “cool,” I think I’ve done some pretty cool things in my life.

I played electric guitar in a band, and it doesn’t get much cooler than that.

To get to the coolest thing, however, it’s one specific performance: my older brother’s wedding in 2012.

At the time, I was in a three-piece band, and my brother came to me a few months before his wedding and asked if we wanted to play at his wedding. Of course we did.

He upped the stakes a little, too. My brother was also once a gigging musician — he sang and played bass and guitar — he wanted to know if we would let him sing a few songs to his new wife at the wedding reception before we performed our normal set.

As it ended up, he gave us a list of songs he specifically requested, which included “Slide” by The Goo Goo Dolls, because it had some significance to he and his bride-to-be, along with “Let’s Get Married” by Jagged Edge, which we re-worked to be a rock song because we were a rock band.

The climax of the set, however, was “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, a song that is special to my brother and his wife.

My brother sang it and I played lead guitar, and it was just the coolest. His wife was in tears. I can’t even properly put into context how it felt.

My band then played a few of our songs, because we were awful at planning and had the climax mid-set. People seemed to still be paying attention for some reason, though.

The real kicker is that the set was awful. Like, really bad. My brother had an acoustic-electric guitar that, I don’t know, I guess made him more comfortable, because he wasn’t playing it, and it was creating bad feedback with the microphone occasionally. I’m pretty sure the PA system we were using was broken as well.

I knocked my guitar out of tune playing an intro solo in “Wonderful Tonight” and spent the remainder of the song re-tuning it on the fly, which is always terrible. I think he also forgot some of the words.

Still, it was a remarkable experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. That might not be true, I would probably trade it for a large sum of money, but it was still pretty great.

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