The Good Life

My friend Dani came to town yesterday with her boyfriend, Tobias. They met when Dani was traveling in Europe two-years-ago where they fell in love. She moved from San Francisco to Copenhagen to be with him and I haven't seen her since she left last summer. Until last night.

They could not be cuter or more perfect together/ for each other. The lesson here: take great risks for great results.

We made a pit-stop at The Burgundy Room, previously mentioned here, before heading to our final destination, my favorite bar in all of Los Angeles and quite possibly, the world: The Piano Bar.

From the looks of it, it isn't much. Some neon lights, a framed portrait of the Queen and some scattered wooden tables, a piano with a bar wrapped around it like a ribbon. But every time I'm there I fall a little bit more in love. With the people and the music and the timelessness of Piano Bars and all who go there: the kind of characters one would want in her story. I certainly do.

Tobias gives Bryan (the resident pianist) a run for his money.

I was born during the wrong time, obviously. I despise clubs and electronic music. Technology freaks me the fuck out. (A probable conundrum because I am a blogger and cell-phone addict.) I want vinyl and live bands and piano bars. I want the scratchy sounds of Billy Holiday and Edith Piaf. The true performers. Artists. None of this "Hollaback, girl- lovely lady humps" bullshit coming out of the auto tuned mouths of current pop-stars. (Gag.)

The very first song played (upon our arrival) was sung by my new friend Betty, a lounge singer and former television-writer, not to mention the mother of a real wild child. The song she sang to us was called "Rockabye Your Baby." It was a sign. We quickly became friends.

Betty sings Rockabye:

I love people and places and singing and timelessness. The Piano Bars are quickly disappearing, and call me old-fashioned, but it is one of the great cultural tragedies. Singing around the piano may be less than "rock and roll" but there is nothing more joyous.

Tobias even sang an original song:

Tobias has a band in Copenhagen and they're amazing. Go make myspace friends and download some tunes.

At the risk of sounding like a PSA, do the world a favor and support your local piano bar, will ya? Because their extinction is imminent and needn't be. Not if everyone really knew what they were missing:

Genuine moments with new and unlikely friends-- Defying time, place and every other circumstance that for whatever reason keeps the old from the young.

The world would be a much better place if we could all just join hands and sing together around vodka-stained pianos.

I'm quite sure of it.



Whit | 4:59 PM

Hey, I love piano bars.

Your friend is excellent.


line 'em up in chicago. if you art direct my outfits, i'll go where you go. and yes, i will go find my local piano bar. thanks for the great date suggestion. you're a classic.

Anonymous | 5:39 PM

Because I live in the middle of nowhere, we don't have any piano bars. We do have a coffee shop nearby with a piano that you can play or use as a table, your choice. I think that's the epitome of awesome. I have to agree on the fake plasticity of music today - I can't stand any of that sort of popular music. It doesn't even sound like real music, just synthetic noise and some "hook", no lyrics that mean anything.
I think I'll look for a piano bar next time we go to Boston.

Scar | 10:15 PM

I love piano bars. And your friends rock. I love you!

Wendy | 6:32 AM

Why is surprising to me is that one of the most packed bars in New Orleans is the Pat O'Brien's piano bar. Granted there are 2 other bars connected to it and people travel from one bar to the next. You can find tourists and locals together, but there arent many places in N.O. that you cant.

I didnt frequent the piano bar, much. At the time, we preferred the juke box in the side bar. I should check it out sometime. Maybe next date night.

Anonymous | 10:50 AM

Hey GGC, I love your blog -- found it and read it cover to cover this week. The husband and I are jumping into family planning for the first time (I am way ambivalent -- at 34 I've grown to like my life the way it is, but I'm up for it). You are such a cool role-model, I appreciate it. BTW, we just moved to San Fran from San Diego -- let's give some props to the Red Fox Room in SD, speaking of fantastic piano bars!! Cheers, Stephanie

Leigh C. | 1:44 PM

I second Wendy. Pat O's piano bar is magnetic to all for some reason.

Maybe because of the setup (two baby grands facing each other and a singer or two keeping time by tapping on a tray) or, most likely, because there is, and always has been, something about gathering around a piano. A community aspect. A personal aspect in that you can request many things of an experienced, fully-repertoired piano bar player. It's all good.

This happening with John Lennon's piano at Laffite's Blacksmith Shop in NOLA is also pretty cool, too:

scarbie doll | 6:07 PM

My local piano bar got rid of the piano, got a DJ and then filled up with sweaty, ass-pinching guidos before it disappeared into oblivion with too many other guido bars to compete with. The whole thing left a sad bad taste in my mouth.

I'm with you on the whole ol' timey music though. As if these chicks today could ever emote (or give me chills) like Billie Holiday.

Anonymous | 7:13 PM

tobias looks like he escaped from duran duran.

Anonymous | 8:38 PM

when we lived in nyc, we stumbled into Marie's Crisis Cafe one night, totally to see what hid behind that awesome name. best piano bar ever. and we went back often. ended many many nights singing along with newly-made friends there.

and now. in charlotte, nc. religious banking capital of the world (i was born and raised here so i can say that). a new piano bar is opening. in my neighborhood. on my street. 3 blocks away.

praise the lord.

Mom101 | 2:03 PM

What a very cool night. Did you tell your new friend that I was having pregnancy sex dreams about her son?


Love the Piano Bar love. Keep fighting the good fight, lovelies.

Namito | 6:07 PM

Betty. She is amazing.

If Charles Kuralt were still alive, he would be there listening.

In fact, I'm not sure I didn't see his ghost in that mirror over the piano...

What a wonderful evening.

petite gourmand | 7:38 PM

love piano bars, and it's true they keep disappearing.
love love your friend's band Maborosi.
one to watch for for sure.
have fun in the windy city.

Anonymous | 7:10 PM

Love piano bars. If you are ever in Utah (why would you want to do that right??0, check out the Tavernacle or the Cabana Club both very fun piano bars. Tavernacle is a dueling piano bar, double the fun.

Anonymous | 10:10 AM

Ahh Piano Bars...Takes me back to my College days. Or should I say nights. Many a drunken night was spent at one of our local piano bars in Toronto. The Madison. Haven't been in a few years, but I've heard it's still quite popular with the new college crowd in town.