When was the last time you heard someone singing, not performing, not on the radio or the stage—just singing because they had “an earworm,” or something in daily life triggered a song from the depths of their internal songbook?

How often, for example, do we stand in the check-out line and hum or voice along with the piped-in music? Never? Maybe we just don’t notice until we open our mouths and sound comes out.

Preschool educators know that singing voices often get children’s attention faster and more completely than speaking voices. By adding cadence and pitch to “it’s story time,” “let’s all line up,” and “clean up the play table,” Miss Emily’s requests were met with cheerful compliance by even the most distracted four-year-olds at my son’s preschool.

One of the best mamas I know, Megan, will often sing to her children in her truly lovely singing voice, either songs she knows and loves, or just narration of what’s going on in the house. In one video she sent, she is holding a wiggly 2-year-old who instantly focuses when Mama starts an impromptu call-and-response, “your mama loves you….” The girl answers: “My mama loves me!” Mama: “Your mama loves you…”

Then the girl takes off on a solo worthy of The Voice, hamming it up with hand and arm gestures and a big finish… “my mama loves meeeeeee, my mamaaaaa loves meeeeee!”

But when it comes to singing in public, I will never forget this one night of pure musical magic.

A bar on the edge of town, Berkey’s, was a “biker bar” where mostly bikers gathered to listen to local blues and rock bands live. You didn’t have to have a motorcycle, but the main vibe was a neighborhood bar — if your neighborhood was a rough-and-tumble, no-frills, blue jeans, T-shirts and leather kind of place. It is doubtful that anyone ever ordered a piña colada or Old-Fashioned at Berkey’s, and if they did, I’m sure the bartenders would just laugh and say, “what kind of beer would you like?”

In between the sets of the live bands, the sound system rocked out a playlist from somewhere.

One night during a band break, the song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses began.

If you recall, the intro to the song is a strong guitar lick which is then joined by a second guitar and a catchy drum backbeat for a few measures. When it began, a wave of recognition and joy flashed around the room. The table drummers picked up on it right away and started beating in time. When the lyrics began, 10 or 15 people did not miss a cue and started singing along with Axl Rose.

By the time the verse finished and the first “sweet child o’ mine” chorus came along, everyone was singing and head-banging, thumping tables and chests, waving half-finished longnecks in the air, swaying to the beat.

Imagine easily 50 or 60 hard, blue-collar, biker-types living in the music for the moment. I knew I was witnessing a phenomenon, but yes, I was also singing and vibing to the song.

Sadly, Berkey’s closed many years after that, sold and re-opened as a sports bar after the biker image was “completely scrubbed,” so the local papers say.

But that spontaneous singalong was indelible, never to be forgotten, never to be repeated.

Unless of course I hear “Bohemian Rhapsody” somewhere. Sing it with me?

“Thunderbolt of lightning, very very frightening, me! Galileo….”