Monday, December 7, 2009

Taylor Hicks Talks Music

And Tells Us Why He'd Rather Not Break a Leg



Photo Credit: Will Thompson

As Taylor Hicks travels around the country with the touring production of Grease, he gets asked pretty much the same questions on every morning show. We fans could probably fill in for him sometime if he ever feels like sleeping late:

“No, I never in a million years thought I’d be starring on Broadway.”
“Yes, they gave me a lot of freedom in making the role of Teen Angel my own.”

When the CD “The Distance” is discussed, it’s usually a quick sentence or two, sometimes as an intro before Taylor sings a song.

That’s fine. It has to be done. But I wanted to know more about some of the songs on the CD. None of those morning people were asking the questions I had in my head, so I decided I just had to do it myself.

By phone from Charlotte, N.C.:

Caryl: I wanted to ask you some questions about “The Distance.”

Taylor Hicks: OK

C: You worked with some impressive musicians. I was wondering what that was like. Were you intimidated by them?

TH: I think it was more of an honor to work with them than it was intimidating. I think once you start working with somebody musically… I think it’s ultimately for the good of the music, you know? When you get into a situation like that where you have some great musicians you can learn a lot from them, too.

C: Did they make suggestions?

TH: They did, they made suggestions, they did have input. A lot of those players, depending on how seasoned they are can ultimately affect the overall sound of the record.

C: One of my favorite songs is ‘Woman's Got To Have It.” I turn that one up loud when it comes on. Did you and Elliot record your parts separately?

TH: We were in the studio the same night, coz it’s kind of a fun song and I knew that Elliot could sing it really well. And Bobby Womack is one of my favorite solo artists of all time. We just had one of those things, where we just got into the studio and had a good time with the song.

C: You can tell. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. Do you guys have any plans to perform the song together live?

TH: Yeah, we plan on that; once our schedules come together I definitely want to do that.

C: That would be fun. I read that you used the original arrangement for ‘Yes We Can,’ is that true? The Pointer Sisters arrangement-

TH: Actually that song was written by Allen Toussaint, who’s a New Orleans guy. It’s kind of an interesting story behind that. A friend of mine who’s a great writer in Nashville, Gary Nicholson, had an old copy of a version that he did with so many of those famous musicians on it back in the 80’s. Well, we pulled it out of the vault and I was able to throw my vocals on top of it.

C: Wow!

TH: It was really cool, kind of a throw back, but it added my vocals. It was one of those songs that he never released so we brought it out and put my vocals on top of it.

C: Oh, that’s so cool. That’s another one that I have to turn up loud.

TH: That’s good to hear.

C: “Indiscriminate Act of Kindness” doesn’t sound like your style of song, but I love it and a lot of your fans do, too. What attracted you to it?

TH: I think Foy Vance is a writer and a musician that has a great talent that the world should hear. And I think IAOK is one of those songs that grabs at your heartstrings. And once that happens you know that it’s a great song. The producer I was working with, Simon Climie, cut a version of ‘Hallelujah’ by Michael McDonald and he did it in 5/8 timing. The time signature for ‘Hallelujah’ is the same as ‘IAOK’. Very slow...you’re able to really convey emotion.

C: I think you executed it well, keeping your voice quiet in parts. I think your voice may be more powerful sometimes when it’s quiet. So, I read that the next CD will be country. Is that true?

TH: It’s a possibility, yes. I think anything’s possible. I just want to make sure that I have great songs on the record.

C: Will it be released next summer?

TH: I think once the Grease tour ends, I’ll hustle back into the studio and create another album for the fans as quickly as possible.

C: You said something about doing the next CD half indie, half major label. I don’t understand how that works.

TH: It depends on the deal. Obviously I’ve been able to sell records on my own. With that being said, that allows you leverage for the next deal. The main thing for the next record is to have success artistically and also to a certain degree commercially.

C: Sure. I also had some questions about the shadow shows. I saw you at Warehouse Live in Houston and ever since you sang "Saint Dominic’s Preview", I’ve been listening to a lot of Van Morrison. The lyrics to that song in particular drive me crazy because I don’t understand what he’s talking about. I did a little research and came across an old Rolling Stone interview and even Van Morrison doesn’t know what they mean. What do you think about that? Do you think there should be some meaning…

TH: I think we all know that Van Morrison is kind of loony.

C: ha!

TH: But I think that can be said for all of the great songwriters of the world. I think you have to be loony to a certain degree to be able to write great songs. But sometimes the music is just so good that you just wanna... when you get going with the song, there just isn’t time to go back and refine it as much as you want to. And I think that might be the case with "St Dominic’s Preview." I do think that it has an underlying protest message, though.

C: Why do you like the song? Does it speak to you in some way?

TH: It’s just one of my favorite Van tunes. The production on it is...rich. The music is rich.

C: When do find time to rehearse for these shadow shows? You’re so busy.

TH: You just make time.

C: The songs are very polished, that’s why I was wondering. For the Houston show, I wondered if you just rehearsed the day of the show.

TH: Anything can happen with great musicians, you know?

C: You work with some great people, that’s for sure. Brian Less really impressed me at that show.

TH: He’s a good player.

C: Some of your fans were wondering what you think about making Birmingham an annual event because they had such a good time at those shows.

TH: I think I’ll always, I’ll probably play Birmingham each year for the rest of my life. But you have to be smart about how long you go before you play a market. That goes with the entertainment business in general. You don’t want to over-saturate it.

C: Yeah, that’s true. Just for fun, I was wondering if the cast of Grease has any superstitions, because theater actors are notoriously superstitious.

TH: You know...I’ll have to get back to you on that.

C: *laugh* You know what I mean... for instance, it’s considered bad luck to say "good luck,” so people say "break a leg," instead.

TH: I’ve never heard that. If someone says "break a leg" I don’t really want to physically do it. People say that to me all the time and I’m like, Hey!

C: *laugh* So Ace is joining the cast. I assume he’s been rehearsing already.

TH: Yeah, he’s been rehearsing.

C: How’s that been going, having him around?

TH: It’s cool. I enjoy it. I think it's good for the show. The cast in general is great. We just have a good time.

C: This is my last question. I was just wondering what you think about this. Do you think being creative is a gift or a curse?

TH: Both.

C: Yeah?

TH: I think it’s both. It depends on how you use it. I’ll tell you what, it’s definitely mentally draining.

C: Well, being creative has given you a lot of interesting opportunities and experiences.

TH: Yeah. Creativity is uh...kinda like breaking a leg in theater sometimes.

C: *laugh* Thanks for talking with me.

TH: Oh, no problem.

C: Looking forward to the next show.

TH: Thank you, take care.


Well, you guys, I wanted to let you know that this is my last blog post. I'm not taking the blog down but I won't be doing any more updates. I need to focus that energy on more productive pursuits. Overall, it's been a positive experience for me and I've made some dear friends. Keep in touch. Be kind to one another.

From Hallelujah, oddly fitting for my departure:

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah



Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Can't Stop!

You guys! I can't stop designing Taylor Hicks T-shirts! I'm not selling anything here, I want to be clear about that. But I keep getting ideas for more feminine shirts. Check it out:



One shirt for those fangirls out there:


Haha! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Taylor Hicks T-Shirts

Taylor Hicks merchandise has been for sale on the Grease tour at the theater and at the clubs where we're all getting intimate with him. I realize the new T-shirts were produced quickly. Under the circumstances, they're fine. The problem is I don't want to wear any of them:





When you're a grown woman who dresses like she's twelve, it's hard to feel cute in a big ole T-shirt. I need a shirt that shows off my boyish figure. Something that screams, "That's right, I'm old enough to be your Mom, but I'm in denial!" Something fitted, feminine and far too young for me. (Don't judge me!)

Joking aside, wouldn't you like to see something at the old merch table that makes you look like a woman? T-shirts that people actually wear are free advertising, let's not forget. Here are some quicky suggestions I whipped up:





More ideas here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

T and Mrs Claus


Hit "play" and sing along with my lyrics:








T and Mrs Claus
They got a thing goin' on
They both know that it's wrong
But the night's so long
With Santa gone now

They meet every day
Behind her own sleigh
Six reindeer have been told not to stare
Holding hands, making all kinds of plans
While a trusted elf sings their favorite songs

T and Mrs Mrs Claus, Mrs Claus, Mrs Claus
They got a thing goin' on
They know Santa's gone
Sometimes until dawn
To get his work done

They gotta be extra careful
That they don't get caught by the paparazzi
Cause she's got her own obligations
And he don't want another Hawaii

T and Mrs Mrs Claus, Mrs Claus, Mrs Claus
They got a thing goin' on
But it might not last long
Since the elves shouted strong
"North Pole Soul Patrol!"

Well, it's time for them to be leaving
It hurts so much, it hurts so much inside
Now she'll ride her sleigh
And he'll ride the cone
Tomorrow they'll meet
At the same place, the same time

T and Mrs Mrs Claus, Mrs Claus, Mrs Claus
They got a thing going on......

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Taylor Hicks: Indiscriminate Act of Kindness

"Indiscriminate Act of Kindness" is the bonus track on Taylor Hicks CD "The Distance" if you buy it at Target. I wish it were on every CD because it's powerful, it's the kind of song a serious musician produces. What moves me more than the lyrics is the mournful sound he creates with his voice. I would have felt something even if he were singing in a foreign language.

Standing ovation, dude.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cougar Town

I wrote yet another song for Taylor Hicks to add to his repertoire. No need to thank me, big guy. I'm glad to do it.

To the tune of "Funky Town." Sing along!




Gotta find a girl on the road that’s right for me
Girl who’s really movin’
really groovin’ with some energy

Well, I talk about it, talk about it
talk about it, talk about it
Talk about, talk about, talk about lookin'

Gotta find one!
This is rule one:
She gotta be young!



I never go to
cougar town!
I never go to
cougar town!
I never go to
cougar town!
I never go to
cougar town!
(repeat)

Every time we move to a town that’s on the tour
Gotta keep aware
-Listen close for a cougar roar!



Well, I talk about it, talk about it
talk about it, talk about it
Talk about, talk about, talk about no girlfriend

I long to hear,
"I like grey hair
and one night stands!"

But not if it's in
cougar town!
I never go to
cougar town!
I never go to
cougar town!
I never go to
cougar town!
(repeat)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

God Keeps Him Grounded

These two paragraphs from a recent interview with Taylor Hicks stuck with me for a couple of weeks. I thought I should post them in case you missed it. It's very sweet:

Taylor sings one of his songs on stage after every Grease show and then signs CDs and visits with fans afterwards. It is a connection he does not take lightly. “Reporters have to take a negative slant. But they don’t see the down syndrome child who comes up and throws his arms around you and gives you a big hug, while you and his family share a few moments of joy,’’ Taylor said before a recent show in Biloxi.

“That’s something I see every night. I do eight shows a week and I’m on the floor with the public in every part of the country.
“Something like that hits you hard and it’s real, and it gets to me,’’ he added. “It’s not about what you’ve been talking about in interviews all day. It’s what happened right then and it brings you right down to Earth. God has a way of not letting you get carried away.


That's nice, isn't it?

The only thing the following videos have in common with the above article is that Taylor is signing CDs after Grease. (ha) I shot them in Houston after the Sunday matinee and was very impressed by the amount of people waiting to meet him.

Here's the thing. I did a lousy job of taping this. The first video cuts off too soon and the second doesn't show the whole line. And why did I pan outside to look at the city? Who cares what it looks like behind Taylor? Well, at least I gave you a nice close-up of the floor at the end! I'm posting them both so you can A. bask in my video-taking greatness or B. meet in a chat room later to laugh at me. Your call.

video

video

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When Bad Translations Happen to Good People 2

Oh man! I was going to let this go, but it's TOO funny. It was obviously translated into another language and then back again to English. I put my favorite bad translations in RED:

October 27
Taylor Hicks is Hopelessly Devoted ' in Grease '
Another nice article about Taylor Hicks in Grease This one includes a good stopper for his up-to-the-minute album, The Distance

By Patrice Stewart
The Decatur Daily, Ala, Sept 24

American God 2006 victor Taylor Hicks returns to his hometown for a featured function in the touring production of Grease , which opened Tuesday at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Eye.

The platinum-selling recording artist will play the `` Adolescent Angel '' office through Sunday.

Bumpkins (BUMPKINS? Oh my god that's funny. They used another word for "Hicks") doed his Broadway introduction in the Adolescent Angel office and holds get on the route with Grease since this circuit started December 2.

`` I holded such a great experience executing on Broadway, '' he stated. `` This is a great chance to see old fans and new nationally while conveying them a great Broadway show. ''

Yahooes (ROTFL!! A different choice for the word "Hicks") was called victor of the 5th season of the Fox Telecasting series American God He holds been entering and doing appearances since his 2006 win.

On March 10, Hicks relinquished his new studio album `` The Distance, '' featuring the singles `` What Holds Right Is Right '' and `` Sevener Mi Dislocation. ''


*wiping tears* Oh, man, that's good stuff.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Toldja He Has Some Kinda Voo-Doo!

Be Careful Out There!

Online Comments Spark Lawsuits

The Internet can seem like an open forum for people to rant and rave. But more and more, individuals are being held to account for what they write. A Chicago realty company sued a tenant this summer for $50,000 after she wrote online that her apartment was moldy. Another blogger was ordered to pay $1.8 million after calling someone a “failed lawyer.” A suit filed by a chiropractor who received a negative review online was settled out of court.

Many of us rely on Web reviews for honest feedback about everything from restaurants to electronics to doctors. But when does opinion cross the line into libel?

“People have the right to free speech,” explains Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which defends digital rights. “But they’ve never had the right to defame someone. They still don’t.” The general rule is that you can be held responsible for spreading false statements that hurt someone’s reputation, whether you post them online, publish them in a newspaper, or whisper them at a cocktail party. If you want to write a negative review online, your best bet is to stick to the facts of your experience without drawing conclusions about a person’s character. “If you say you didn’t like someone, that’s fine,” says David Miranda, an intellectual property attorney. If you say you think he’s an embezzler and he’s not, you’ve gone too far.”

— Rebecca Webber

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In Your Time

From Heart Full of Soul by Taylor Hicks:

Richard Black was a great guy and the first serious musician I'd met who took a real interest in me as a player....Richard told me that if I wanted to be a true musical artist, I had to try to write my own songs....

I disappeared from the Black house for a couple of weeks.... Not long after, I sat everyone down in the sound room and played for them the very first song I ever wrote. It was called "In Your Time," and even if it did sound a bit too much like a certain Cat Stevens song I really loved, it was still pretty good for a rookie try. A few years later, "In Your Time" would become the title track of the first album I recorded on my own. So Richard's lecture paved the way for a number of firsts, the most important of which was that, for the first time in my life, I listened hard to somebody else and took their advice to heart.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About "Saint Dominic's Preview" But Were Afraid to Ask

Ever since Taylor Hicks performed Van Morrison's "Saint Dominic's Preview" at Warehouse Live in Houston, I've been obsessed with its lyrics. Sure, I've heard it before and while the words always intrigued me, I've never made an effort to research their meaning.

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to search every detail of this song to my heart's content. I found that other people have been curious about the lyrics as well. They asked the same questions I had. But guess what? Nobody has any answers.

Some of the lyrics are plain enough:

And the restaurant tables are completely covered.
The record company has paid out for the wine.
You got everything in the world you ever wanted
Right about now your face should wear a smile.

That's the way it all should happen
When you're in, when you're in the state you're in;
You've got your pen and notebook ready,
I think it's about time, time for us to begin.

And we're over in a 52nd Street apartment,
Socializing with the whino few,
Just to be hip and get wet with the jet set.
But they're flying too high to see my point of view.

Beautifully put, in fact. But then they go back to gazing out on Saint Dominic's Preview. Van, buddy, what are you talking about?? Saint Dominic's is a church. Got it. But what does "Preview" mean in this context? I searched and searched but found no answer. It's times like these that I wish Taylor had something like a Bat Signal or a Red Phone for REALLY important questions.

Taylor: "What's the emergency, ma'am?
Me: "I don't understand what 'Saint Dominic's Preview' is!! *sob* Ya gotta help me, man!! I can't sleep, I'm getting NO work done! For the love of God, what does it mean??!"

Sadly, all we've got is twitter and since he never replies to our tweets, we're on our own out here, responsible for solving our own musical emergencies.

But then I found it. A quote that would put this question to rest. A maddening, frustrating quote from Van Morrison himself. It comes from an old interview he did with Rolling Stone:

Well, like I've said, I'm not surprised that people get different meanings out of my songs. But I don't wanna give the impression that I know what everything means 'cause I don't.

RS: Are you sometimes surprised by some of the things that come out when you're writing?

Really. There are times when I'm mystified. I look at some of the stuff that comes out, y'know. And like, there it is and it feels right, but I can't say for sure what it means. Like take...take "Crazy Face." Y'know, where does that come from?

RS: There's unquestionably a strong mystical and visionary quality to your music.

Yeah, it's there. That's what it is, I guess. It's strange because I don't see myself as a mystical type person. But then every now and then these weird experiences happen. Like I'll be lying down on the bed with my eyes closed and all of a sudden I get the feeling that I'm floating near the ceiling looking down. I couldn't say whether that's supposed to be astral projection but it's pretty freaky when it happens.

RS: Have you ever had any similar experiences that seem related to your writing?

I had one just recently. I'd been working on this song about the scene going down in Belfast. And I wasn't sure what I was writing but anyway the central image seemed to be this church called St. Dominic's where people were gathering to pray or hear a mass for peace in Northern Ireland. Anyway, a few weeks ago I was in Reno for a gig at the University of Nevada. And while we were having dinner I picked up the newspaper and just opened it to a page and there in front of me was an announcement about a mass for peace in Belfast to be said the next day at St. Dominic's church in San Francisco. Totally blew me out. Like I'd never even heard of a St. Dominic's church.

RS: How did the song turn out?

Great. In fact I'm gonna be recording it in a couple of days.

RS: What did you end up titling it?

"St. Dominic's Preview." You know something? I haven't a clue to what it means.


There you have it. Even Van Morrison doesn't know what it means. As a writer, that irritates the hell out of me. But, I can let it go. A few deep breaths, some visual imagery and I'm fine. It's still a cool song. Hey-and on the bright side, if Taylor screws up the lyrics it won't matter.

Enjoy.



http://vimeo.com/6665801 from bonnie cheung on Vimeo.

Shammy [chamois] cleaning all the windows,
Singing songs about Edith Piaf's soul.
And I hear blue strains of "no regredior"
Across the street from Cathedral Notre Dame.

Meanwhile back in San Francisco
We're trying hard to make this whole thing blend,
As we sit upon this jagged
Storey block, with you my friend.

And it's a long way to Buffalo.
It's a long way to Belfast city too.
And I'm hoping the choice won't blow the hoist
'cos this town, they bit off more than they can chew.

As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview

All the orange boxes are scattered.
We get to Safeway's supermarket in the rain.
And everybody feels so determined
Not to feel anyone else's pain.

(You know that) No one's making no commitments
To anybody but themselves,
Hidin' behind closed doorways,
Tryin' to get outside, outside of empty shells

And for every cross-cuttin' country corner,
For every Hank Williams railroad train that cried,
And all the chains, badges, flags and emblems
And every strain on every brain and every eye (?)

As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview.

And the restaurant tables are completely covered.
The record company has paid out for the wine.
You got everything in the world you ever wanted
Right about now your face should wear a smile.

That's the way it all should happen
When you're in, when you're in the state you're in;
You've got your pen and notebook ready,
I think it's about time, time for us to begin.

And we're over in a 52nd Street apartment,
Socializing with the whino few,
Just to be hip and get wet with the jet set.
But they're flying too high to see my point of view.

As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview.

See them freedom marching,
Out on the street, freedom marching.
Saint Dominic's Preview.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Warehouse Live, Sept 14th

Dear Diary,

Monday night I went to a show at Warehouse Live in Houston, which included this amazing keyboard player. I couldn't take my eyes off his flying hands.



He was full of charisma, smiling out at the audience, encouraging us to clap along. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him work.

Here, Dear Diary, I found you a video. Skip to the :35 mark:



Behind him sat a guy playing bass guitar.


photo by NolaMar

He looked about 12 and was introduced as the little kid in the band. Then the lead singer said, "Actually, he's 32, loves mountain biking..." The Little Kid plucked out a funky beat as the crowd chuckled.


photo by NolaMar

I wish I could have seen the guitarist on the other side of the lead singer. Alas, the crowd was straining ever closer to the stage, blocking my view. But I felt the notes he played in my chest at times, as he whipped the guitar into submission.

Watch him around 3:30:




The lead singer had a powerful voice and provided entertaining banter in between songs.


photo by NolaMar

The venue doesn't look like much from the outside, but the room where this performance took place (The Studio) had a very cool look. I would have preferred a little more distance between the band and the crowd because it would have been easier to see them. One woman actually sat cross-legged on the stage, watching the musicians. That may sound cozy but it's possible she had to choose between sitting on the stage or having her legs crushed against it.

All in all, a pleasant evening. Especially for me, since my clothes came away unscathed by a wayward drink.

Keyboard: Brian Less
Guitar:John Kulinich
Bass:Jason Parker
Lead Singer: Taylor Hicks

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Adventures in Taylorland, Part II

There was a lull in the activity over by the book signing and I was worried that havingfun might miss seeing Taylor (he's been known to leave early), so I ventured back and asked the first person I saw if Taylor would be there the full time.

I'm not the most informed person in Taylor Hicks' fandom, so I didn't realize I was talking to Clay. I told him a friend of mine was still on her way and he assured me Taylor would stay until 12:30. Then he asked me if I bought batteries. LOL! No fans were around at the moment, so he and Taylor went off to take a break.

Everyone I spoke to was friendly and helpful. Taylor was very nice, too, when my camera wouldn't work. He had Clay give it a couple of tries and then said he'd stick around if I wanted to go and buy new batteries.

But he was in his autograph-signing-mode, where he doesn't hear everything you say and barely looks up. He had no clue who I was and I wasn't going to make an ass of myself by reminding him. I'm a very small fish in this pond and I know it.

Havingfun was havingtrouble finding the bookstore and kept calling me on my cell phone. I wound up putting an employee on. After about five minutes of this, everyone knew she was on her way. My phone would ring and the employee helping us would say, "Where is she NOW?" When she finally walked up the stairs, the woman in charge of Taylor's schedule called him on her phone to tell him she was there. LOL!

Me, Taylor and havingfun met up at the table and HF launched immediately into a plea for him to do a shadow show in Austin. She named great venues in the area, fans who are hoping for a show and eateries in the area. She may have thrown in his horoscope for that week but I'm not sure. (I tease because I love, HF!)

Taylor tried to explain the difficulties of setting up these shows, considering the schedules of the musicians involved, but never said it was out of the question. He said he had an offer from a venue in Austin and was thinking about it.

The rest is a jumbled memory. He signed her book at some point. In fact, he signed a book to himself, too. Clay was walking away and Taylor called to him, "Hey, wait, I don't have a copy of the book. Let me give you one for me." I think I said something like, "You don't have your own book?" and he said he had one somewhere but not with him on the road.

Then he said to no one in particular, "Wait, let me sign it to myself: 'Dear Taylor, Thanks for being you.'" He cracked himself up:



We talked for at least fifteen minutes. He talked a lot about the business of the music biz. I said I thought that end of it sounded like a pain in the neck but he said he actually kind of enjoyed it. He added that Grease has been a great vehicle for getting his CD out there. He admitted that maybe this wasn't exactly the way he wanted to do it, but that it's working for him.

*I need to stop here and point out that havingfun actually talked more than I did. I'm sorry I can't remember what she said as clearly as I can what I said.*

The woman with the clipboard interrupted us to remind him that he had other obligations that day but he called over to her, "No, it's OK. We're just talking." Perhaps he gave the secret signal by accident (ha) but I thought it was nice of him to continue our conversation.

Taylor asked Clay to go get a couple of head shots for us and when he brought them over, Taylor signed them for us. While he was signing, I asked him if he ever goes into chat at his new site and he said NO. But he said he's really happy with his new sites and he reminded us about the video chat occurring the following day.

I told him that I remembered that before the CD came out, he had said how important it was to him from an artistic point of view. He wanted to take the time to get the music right. I said I thought he achieved what he had hoped to. He appreciated that and then said, "You know, the Grease tour was already in place BEFORE we recorded the CD." I paused to let that sink in and then I smiled and said, "You're kidding." He seemed pleased with his own cleverness.

So, he did say (as he's been saying all along) that he hopes to do more stage roles because he'd like to continue attracting more than Idol fans. I said, "Idol fans are fickle" and he replied, "Of course they are!"

A funny image popped into my head so I said, "Just please don't do John Travolta's role in Hairspray!"

Here's a photo if you don't remember:



His people signaled to him just then that it was time to go, so he hopped off the table and said, "Don't worry!" *grin* "there are no cross-dressing roles in my future! *laugh* Hey- thanks for coming, you guys!"

I thought it was really sweet of Taylor to just slow down and chat with a couple of fans. Wednesday was a busy day for him, too so it was especially nice of him to indulge us.

I wasn't going to type this up, but I realized Taylor's fans need a balanced view of what he's like with us (all of us, I mean). So often we're afraid to post a good experience with him online because it can make you a target. I've been called a liar and an attention whore in the past, so I know what I'm talking about.

But folks, relax. It's all good. Taylor's a nice guy who's trying to find his way in the entertainment industry. If you're a fan, the only thing you need to worry about is supporting him.

(Havingfun: seriously, I'm sorry I didn't quote you in this. If you'd like me to add anything, let me know!)

Adventures in Taylorland, Part I

His second day in Houston, Taylor Hicks signed books and CDs at Books-a-Million downtown. I wasn't planning to go, mostly because I didn't know about it, but my good buddy, havingfun, wanted to meet me there, so I decided it might be fun. I also thought perhaps this book signing could erase the memory of the Debacle of 2007 when I went to a book signing in NY run by Nazis:

"You vill stand HERE! You vill valk trough dis maze of bookshelves-NO peeking!! You dere!! Eyes front!! Have your book open and ready, get your autograph and move on!! You must leave de area!!"

Yesterday, as I followed my printed directions, I had a heck of a time finding the bookstore. Most of the streets are one-way, so if you make a mistake while driving, you may wind up crossing the state line into Louisiana before you get back to where you need to be. It's a nightmare.

I FINALLY found the building but couldn't' find parking. When at last, I pulled into a parking spot on the roof of some building I still wasn't sure where the bookstore was and I wasn't sure I cared.

Just then havingfun called and asked me if I could help her find the location when she got into downtown. I don't think she found my laughter reassuring.

By the way, dear reader, I think I looked presentable when I left my house. Hair styled, make-up on, casual, but nice outfit. I had to jump into heels at the last minute because my jeans were too long. By the time I stumbled into that bookstore, a light rain had had it's way with my hair and those stupid shoes had done a number on my feet. I was out of breath.




(I'm not in this picture, you silly people!)

I bought a book, was directed towards the book signing and was suddenly thrust in front of Taylor Hicks. The heavy breathing, the limping and the damp hair wasn't exactly the look I was going for that morning.


He signed my book and then we faced my camera for a photo.

Nothing. The batteries were dead. Everyone watching thought it would be a great idea if I went away, bought some batteries and came back. I thought it would be a great idea if I just went away.

I found a chair and sat down to regroup. It was then that I remembered that havingfun was still on her way.

to be continued.....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcome to Houston, Taylor Hicks

Taylor Hicks will finally be in my little ole town for the next two weeks. I mentioned somewhere online that maybe it's time for everybody to put their cameras down and actually experience the music. Leave the camera home. Stop squealing. Listen.

In the spirit of "leaving the camera at home," I'm putting the mouse and the keyboard away. I'm documenting nothing. If Taylor Hicks shows up on one of my local shows, I'm gonna watch it, but I'm not going to bother finding a video of it online for you.

*pause*

Well, shoot. I'm having a hard time writing this because I'm not being honest. The truth is, I'm over it. I don't need to watch every video, read every article or hear every interview. I just don't care about any of that anymore.

You can have it. Just leave me the music. I'm so moved by this man's voice that I don't even understand it. I've stopped trying to figure it out, it doesn't really matter.

So, yeah, Taylor will be doing the usual adorable interviews and performing in Grease here in Houston, but all I really care about is what he's doing on September 14th at Warehouse Live.

And I'll be leaving the camera at home.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Chris Daughtry Show



They're finally going to air Season Five on American Idol Rewind. Yay! Taylor Hicks' season! Wait. Who's that dude in the ad? He doesn't have grey hair. Or any hair, for that matter.

I'm not sure what's going on with this show. Are they going to air it straight-forward, the way it happened or are they doing a Daughtry documentary? The documentary thing is fine but don't call it "American Idol Rewind." Just air the damned show the way it went down.

And look at this. Elliot isn't even in the photo though he came in third that season.



I wrote this over a year ago, but feel it may be relevant again:

Those of you enamored with American Idol need to be aware that the competition is meaningless. Don't spend hours voting for your favorite performer because it won't matter in the end. Producers of the show already know who they're going to force into the nation's ears once the show has come to an end.

This was never more obvious than after season five. Taylor Hicks was America's choice, but the contestant who came in fourth received more backing by the record label than Hicks. In the music business it takes more than a quality product to sell millions of CDs. It takes money to bring that product to the attention of the consumer.

From hollyscoop.com 1/07/08:

"American Idol' winner Taylor Hicks is splitting from Arista. Hicks has decided to record his next album on his own. He said he signed his 3-year deal straight out of Idol because it was all he could get, and at that point he had no reason to turn it down. He said he'll continue to hustle to get more gigs, and he'll be releasing another album in 2008, and hopefully go on tour."

And the first comment:

"Mr. Hicks was not dropped by his label, as has been widely reported over the past couple of days. His lawyers were able to get him removed from his contract for a variety of reasons, including breach of contract and failure to comply with promised promotion, among other things. Mr. Hicks has agreed not to reveal the terms of the separation for a specific period of time. In other words, J Records/RCA didn't give Hicks what they promised, he wants more artistic freedom and better promotion, he was able to get out of his contract and he has agreed not to reveal any details at this time. "
Posted by: fromtheinside on 01/08/2008 06:38 AM

Of course, I have no idea whether or not this comment is true, but it certainly seems plausible. So, watch American Idol for entertainment, if you like. But don't delude yourself into believing your vote will have any impact on that performer's career.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Propose a Harmonica Giveaway

C'mon, Taylor! You've got plenty!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Conduit For The Music

I wanted to post a video this week that showcases Taylor Hicks' voice-that gorgeous sound wrapped around some heartfelt lyrics. But I came across this video that I haven't seen before and have to share it. Wow.

Someone far more eloquent than I once described Taylor as a conduit for the music. That was never more evident than around the 2:00 mark in this video.

WARNING! For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this Taylor Hicks performance. Expectant mothers should not view.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who Took These Photos?

We've all seen these really special photos of Taylor Hicks but I've never known who took them. Anybody know? I'd like to give them credit. (Mystery solved! See below.)

After Concert Jam at the Grey Eagle
March 4, 2007
Asheville, NC

*Photos by Sandlin Gaither*
http://www.sandlingaither.com/
(thanks, cath)







Interesting Look Back

An interview from AOL Sessions:

"What was the first type of music you were exposed to?"

Spoonful James Live at Smith's Olde Bar on 2009-08-16



Collection: : SpoonfulJames
Band/Artist: Spoonful James
Date: August 16, 2009 (check for other copies)
Venue: Smith's Olde Bar
Location: Atlanta, GA

Source: AGK 391b > FastTrack Pro > d7
Lineage: Dat > Nero
Taped by: Matt R.
Transferred by: Matt R.
Keywords: "Spoonful James" "Taylor Hicks"

Spoonful James
Wynn & Quinn Acoustic
Smith's Olde Bar
Atlanta, Georgia
8-16-2009


1. Intro
2. That's It For Now
3. Right Down Here
4. Why Don't We Just Go Home
5. You're All I've Got To My Name
6. Broke In Alabama
7. Too Late
8. Light On
9. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad
10. 7 Mile Breakdown

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Smith's Olde Bar, August 16th

One thing I find so fascinating about Taylor Hicks is his ability to play "cheesy" brilliantly then hop in a car and transform into Serious Music Man. From all accounts, he knocked everyone's socks off on both stages last night.

I've said it before: he's an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, deep-fried in a puzzle and wrapped up tidily with a leather band that no one will ever know the meaning of. And I would guess he loves it that way. But who the hell knows?







Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Whomp At The Warfield" Being Released 11/03/2009


Got the following information from here:

Title: TAYLOR HICKS: WHOMP AT THE WARFIELD
Release Date: 11/03/2009
Label/Distributor: IMAGE
Prebook DVD: 10/06/2009
Retail Price: DVD $19.98
Genre: Music Taylor Hicks performs some of his biggest hits.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We Be Limin

While Taylor Hicks was off this past week, I thought about doing a funny, "Where's Taylor?" post. But when I sat down to write it, it felt intrusive, even though I was planning to take a humorous look at the possibilities. Frankly, I didn't want to think too much (or encourage other fans to think too much) about where he might be.

Can you imagine living the way he does? He seems to work ALL the time. Disappearing for a week here and there must be what keeps him sane. I actually get a kick of it when he's able to get away undetected.

It reminds me of the time I watched Taylor walk unnoticed past a crowd of fans who were waiting outside a theater to see his show. He had his hat pulled low and his head down. I saw him approach, walk past me and pull the door open.

I waited until he was almost inside, pointed at his back and said to my companions, "THAT was Taylor." He must have heard me, because he turned around and laughed, as the door closed behind him.

I know other fans have similar stories, moments when they saw him somewhere and simply left him alone. Good for you, guys! (And, you're welcome, Taylor.)

Anyway, I have no idea where Taylor was this past week and I don't really care. He may not have been on vacation at all for all we know. But assuming he was, let's listen to one of his early original tunes to celebrate a bit of R&R. (BTW, "Limin," according to the Urban Dictionary, means, "hanging out or chillin"):



Limin - Taylor Hicks

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Taylor Hicks is Coming To Town



Taylor Hicks has announced another shadow concert date during his national tour of Grease. He'll be performing on September 14th at Warehouse Live, in Houston, TX.

Yee-ha! I'm fixin' to have a coronary knowing there's gonna be a show that's just down the road a piece from me. That's right, I can jump in the truck and drive about ten miles, as the crow flies. (Yo! Youse guys, don't tell anyone I'm actually a transplanted Yankee. shh...) Y'all, grab yer kin and come on down!


Warehouse Live

Just beyond the gleaming office buildings of Downtown Houston lies Warehouse Live, a 1920’s era warehouse repurposed as a one-of-a-kind concert and event venue. Warehouse Live features a vintage, 20 foot neon marquee welcoming and branding your event from the start. (From the Warehouse Live website.)

Voted by Houston Press as the Best Club for Out-of-Town Acts:

Very tough category to call, but Warehouse Live gets the nod for its versatility (i.e., the 400-capacity studio and 1,500-capacity ballroom), world-class sound system and the fact that more often than not its shows sell out, no matter if the evening's entertainment is Spoon and the New Pornographers or the one and only Snoop Dogg.

Warehouse Live is a very cool venue, in the middle of downtown Houston. Taylor's show will be in 'The Studio," with capacity for 400 people, standing room only.

It was announced today that, in an unprecedented and untrue move, the Governor has declared Texas, "The Cone Star" state during Taylor Hicks' stay.

(That picture makes me laugh everytime!)

If you're considering coming to see the T-man, I recommend making a weekend of it and touring the sights which are unique to Houston. In fact, you might want to think about staying on the water in Galveston one night. It's NOT a stone's throw away, though. You'll need a car. Everything is spread out, in fact, but most attractions can be reached via public transportation.

Why do I sound like an advertisement for the Houston show? Because during Taylor's solo tour the Houston show was cancelled. The official reason was a scheduling conflict, but I fear not enough tickets were sold. We need to make sure that doesn't happen again.



(*Now I'm yelling at you like a side-show barker*) So you say you've always wanted to tour NASA?! You say you've always wanted to see the Gulf of Mexico and eat authentic Mexican food?! Perhaps you'd like to cap off a long weekend with some good music in a club voted, "Best Club For Out-of-Town Acts"?! Then Houston's the place for you!! (Too aggressive? OK, I'll tone it down.)

Should you- you know, *shrug*- decide to come to Houston, here are some fun things to do. *shrug* Whatever:

1. NASA and Space Center Houston. Space Center Houston's unparalleled exhibits, attractions, special presentations and hands-on activities tell the story of NASA's manned space flight program. SCH is the only place in the world where visitors can see astronauts train for missions, touch a real moon rock, land a shuttle, and take a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA.

2. Galveston Island Galveston offers 32 miles of relaxing beaches, superb restaurants, top resort hotels, marvelous downtown shopping, numerous antique stores, incredible art galleries, fabulous entertainment and one of the largest and well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country.

3. The Kemah Boardwalk. Take a stroll on the Boardwalk, dine by the water, ride the carousel, and listen to live music.

4. Downtown Aquarium Restaurant This $38-million world-class complex, perched on the redeveloped 400 block of Bagby, boasts 500,000 gallons of visible underwater tanks with more than 200 species of marine life--and that's just skimming the surface. You'll find rides and amusements for the entire family. The Shark Voyage is a highlight: Travel via train into an acrylic tunnel with live sharks swimming overhead. Ride the 100-foot Diving Bell Ferris wheel for an incredible view of the city, or the aquatic carousel if you'd rather be grounded. Quell your hunger at the Marina Matinee cafe or Aquarium restaurant; quench your thirst at the Dive Lounge.

5. Moody Gardens: I-Max theater, indoor rainforest, and fresh water beach.

6. The Galleria. The Galleria is the fourth largest mall in the nation. With its stunning architecture, exceptional store mix and distinctive style of entertainment, The Galleria has established itself as the #1 shopping and tourist destination in Houston with over 24 million annual visitors. Set beneath spectacular glass atriums, The Galleria features more than 375 fine stores (including Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Gucci, two Macy's stores, Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, Ralph Lauren Collection, Louis Vuitton and Houston's only Nordstrom),restaurants, an impressive ice rink and two Westin hotels.

7. Houston Museums: Children’s Museum, Museum of Natural Science, Museum of Fine Arts, Holocaust Museum and the Contemporary Arts Museum.

8. Minute Maid Park Enjoy a game while you're here. The Astros play Friday, September 11 at 7:05pm; Saturday, September 12 at 6:05pm; Sunday, September 13 at 1:05pm.

9. San Jacinto Monument and Museum: home to Battleship Texas and the 5 70-foot San Jacinto Monument.

10. Sam Houston Race Park: enjoy a day at the races.

11. The Houston Zoo

12. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. A 155-acre non-profit urban nature sanctuary. Visitors can enjoy over 5 miles of nature trails, including forest, pond, wetland and meadow habitats. The grounds are open daily 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. The Discovery Room offers hands-on interactive exhibits, microscopes, touch screens and more. The Discovery Room is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

13. Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park. Visitors sit on the hillside or take a seat under the polygon canopy to enjoy the weekly shows that start in the spring and run through the fall. Free.

14. Bayou Bend Visit the magnificent home of Miss Ima Hogg (yeah, that was really her name!) and learn about the extraordinary legacy of a remarkable woman. Best known for her superb collection of American decorative arts, Miss Hogg was also largely responsible for Bayou Bend's innovative architecture and breathtaking gardens.

Buy tickets for Taylor's show here:
http://warehouselive.frontgatetickets.com/choose.php?lid=35029

Friday, July 31, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Taylor Hicks' Pix



Remember this Taylor Hicks interview?

Q. What was the first thing you splurged on after you got your deal?

Taylor: I bought a camera -- a Cannon EOS 30. It's a really nice camera. I wanted to document all that's going on, and I got to with this camera.



This stuck in my head because I have an affinity for photography, though I've never had the time to learn how to do it right. Still, I fumble along with my inexpensive digital camera, documenting every little thing that lands within my line of vision.

Way back when GC was still up and running, I left a comment to the effect that someday Taylor should put some of his photos together in a book for his fans to buy. Immediately after hitting "submit," I felt like an idiot. Oh, not because of that particular comment. I always felt like an idiot immediately after voicing an opinion at Gray Charles. (ha)

Anyhoo, somewhere along the way I came across this book of photos published by Rob Morrow when he was doing "Northern Exposure." It's full of behind-the-scenes shots from the show. I appreciate some of the images visually, but mostly I found it to be just plain fun.


I'd love to see Taylor Hicks put a book together like this. If he were legally able to include American Idol photos (especially from the tour), there would be a big market for it. Dont'cha think?

Maybe he's saving his personal photos for another autobiography? He wouldn't have to depend on expensive help from a Rolling Stones journalist this time. There are many talented writers within his fan base who could offer help. (*ahem*)


Taylor Hicks hiding behind the orchestra, trying to get a photo of Jerry Lee Lewis.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Austin Show?

I'm friendly with a few Taylor Hicks fans who live in Texas and we've been frustrated concerning the lack of shows within driving distance for us. We're curious to know if there of more of you out there like us.

So the question is, if he booked a show in Austin, would you go? I want names! (Not your actual name, a screen name is fine.) I don't want a bunch of anonymous yeses because it could be people screwing with me!

This is a petition of sorts. One of our favorite TH fans is going to tell him about the results.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Voo-Doo

I'm not a music expert. And I find it difficult to put into words why I like a certain song or musician. I think a lot of you are like me. There's something in Taylor Hicks' voice or in his delivery -or both- that gets inside your chest and makes you pay attention.

But has anyone out there figured out why we're SO affected by his music? And why we're still online after all this time sharing videos and news about him?

*crickets*

Yeah, I didn't think so! I've decided that the man's got some kinda voo-doo. I lived in Louisiana for about nine years. Believe me, from my experience there's no fighting the voo-doo. Let it take you over:

Taylor Hicks - Gonna Move + Soul Serenade - Magic Bag 6-22-09 from ForeverTaylor on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Back To Basics

One of my favorite bloggers, san, wrote a piece a little while ago titled, "Taylor Hicks~~leave me with the music". As I drive around on vacation, thinking about what I want to do with my blog, I find myself returning to what she wrote.

I'm weary of the fan nonsense. I don't know how many times I considered hitting the delete button on my blog and just walking away because of it. But, the truth is, I'm not ready to walk away from Taylor Hick's music. Is it possible to strip everything else away and focus on those goose bump, life-affirming, joyful performances? I'm willing to give it a try.

I'm currently on a borrowed computer, about 1500 miles from home, so I can't do a proper search for a stunning Taylor Hicks performance. I'll post one that I've shared before and then I'd like to hear from you. Give me some links to your favorite performances and let's get so lost in the music that the rest of it melts away.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Taylor Tuesday Bonus

My family was visiting when Taylor Hicks' "Whomp At The Warfield" was on HDnet a week ago, Sunday. Despite my fantasies of forcing them to watch it...I mean, despite my plan to relax and enjoy the show with my company, we got caught up doing something else.

So I finally got to see WATW this afternoon. I was so impressed with the show that I decided to make notes as I watched to share here. First of all, due to some scheduling discrepancy, my recording started in the middle of the show. Taylor was already sweaty.

Some general notes: The theater looked full (others have said there are shots of empty seats) and the crowd was energized. I loved the shots from the stage, looking out at the audience. People were dancing, clapping, cheering. Panties flew. We got to see what Taylor Hicks sees as he's performing.

The band was hot. They sounded fantastic. During the THIRD encore ("Badge"), each band member played a solo. (BTW, I noticed Boogie's solo seemed to go on forever and was aware that Taylor wasn't on stage. He finally came out wearing a Giants shirt. Very cute. Taylor then knocked Brian Less aside and banged away on the organ, surprisingly on key. We were privy to shots of his hands on the keyboard so apparently he really can play a little.)

I enjoyed the close-ups of the band. It gives you a better idea of how hard they work and how much they seem to enjoy the music. Brian Gallagher, for instance, laughed as he did his own version of Taylor's trademark "Runaround Spin." (OK, I exaggerate a tad. He turned around. And laughed.)

Speaking of "The Runaround," Taylor introduced it as a Cajun tune. I don't remember hearing him describe it that way before, but OK. It's got some of the elements.

Taylor looked and sounded great. Obviously he brought his 'A' game for the cameras. When he's really on, everybody has a good time. I'm not a guitar player, but it sure looked like he knew what he was doing with his as the camera zoomed in. We also got lots of close-ups of Taylor playing harmonica. I'll bet if you needed someone to blow up balloons at a birthday party, he'd be your go-to guy.

Though the music was tight, Taylor was loose and playful with the audience. After his last bow, he jumped on top of a speaker and danced a bit. The only grimace-worthy moment during the whole show was when he made some odd growling noises during "Naked In the Jungle". Twice.

A couple of quick notes:

I was happy to see that the crowd stayed respectfully quiet during his first encore, "The Fall."

He played harmonica on his knees at one point.

What a great show! What makes it special for those of us who have been to a Taylor Hicks show is that you feel as if you're on stage with the band. You can hear every word sung or spoken, you can watch the musicians at work, you simply don't miss a thing.

Let's see how many of you would buy "Whomp At The Warfield" if you could. I'll put up a poll over there on the right. I know, I know, it's a dead issue. This is just for funsies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Takin It To The Tweets

Taylor Hicks is an inspiration to many. I've heard of fans returning to old passions like painting, dancing and miming. For me, the glimpses we've been given of his song writing process has inspired me to write my own.

Oh, I may blatantly rip-off the music, but the lyrics came from a place deep inside me, a dark and lonely place a little to the left of my pancreas. I close my eyes, blocking out the world around me and pull the words up (occasionally with a belch. sorry.) I humbly submit to you, dear reader, my latest offering.

The music comes from a song Taylor made his own on American Idol. Let's sing it together, shall we?

Sung to the tune of, "Takin It To The Streets."

You don’t know me
But I’m Cone Ranger.
I was raised up in this ice cream cone.
I’ve got a little time in here
So I’ll write you on my phone

You, won’t believe how much
You’re gonna hear from me
I can’t blog
But a cone twitter is so easy

Takin it to the tweets
Takin it to the tweets
Takin it to the tweets
Takin it to the tweets

Take this message to my fan base
It will find them anywhere
Whenever people go to Twitter
They’ll find a tweet from me in there

Yeah, you, seem to always need
Another piece of me
Here’s some info
You can use as currency

Takin it to the tweets
-----------It’s such a simple thing!
Takin it to the tweets
-----------I tweet and then I sing
Takin it to the tweets
-----------Make sure my phone's secure
Takin it to the tweets
-----------Inside my pompadour!

*dance maniacally*

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Taylor Hicks Story

Every time I make a new friend who's a Taylor Hicks fan, they want to know 'my story.' Since I wasn't involved in the voting during his season on American Idol and I tell anyone who will listen that I don't even like the show, they want to know how I became aware of him.

Well, here you go. You may want to refill that coffee cup, because this story is a long one. (That's why I rarely tell it.)

2006 had been a rough year. In March, my mother-in-law wound up in the emergency room, complaining of excruciating pain in her right leg. Turns out she had blocked arteries and would have to undergo bypass surgery.

She lived about 3 hrs from us, but I made the trip down after the surgery was over to spend a few days with her. (She had other family who lived near her). She seemed to be doing fine, but about a week after I returned home we got a call that she was back in the hospital.

The bypass failed and the only recourse was to amputate the leg below the knee. Her toes were already turning purple. The foot was dying.

This was a woman who had been working full time, driving and living on her own. She accepted the news surprisingly well. She was looking forward to getting a prosthetic leg and getting on with her life.

My husband and I took turns driving down to see her because our kids had obligations back home. I was the first to see her without the bottom half of her leg. She was sitting in a wheelchair in her hospital room with an enormous bandage wrapped around her knee. It looked like a big cotton-y ball where the knee would be. And below it...empty space.

An orderly came in just then to help her into bed. After she was settled, laying down and covered up, she asked me to please get the blanket off of the leg that had been operated on because the weight of it was causing her pain. I did just that. She winced and asked me to please get it off the foot, too. She pointed to the empty space. I told her, "I don't understand. You want me to move the blanket off of the foot that isn't there?" She nodded yes and after I flipped it back away from the invisible foot, her face relaxed. Freaky.

Her physical rehab kept being interrupted by infections. And then another amputation. The rest of the leg had to come off. She had been living in hospitals and nursing homes for months now. My husband and I continued our twice monthly visits, during which we took care of whatever maintenance had to be done at her house. It was a difficult schedule and we fell behind on a few things around our own house.

Every Sunday before I left her house to return home, I walked through her rooms, cleaning as I went along. I put fresh sheets on her bed and made sure her left slipper was within reach on the floor. She still planned to return to her own house. The man next door lived alone in a wheelchair, she reasoned. "Why can't I?"

But then in November we got a call that she had had a stroke and was on her way to the hospital. Before my husband made it to his car to leave his office, he got another call that she had died.

We were told that as she was being wheeled out of the nursing home, she seemed happy. She called goodbye to all the nurses and said, "Be sure to tell my kids I'm going home!"

I hate that the last time she saw her house was the night she left to go to the emergency room. I hate that I couldn't make it happen when she said to me, "Just take me home and let nature take it's course." And I hate that she died alone in some hospital.

So it was with these events still fresh in my mind that I happened to catch that gray-haired guy from American Idol on TV. He was singing, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..." Lovely. Slow and clear. But then he got a kind of sparkle in his eye, a sly smile and the tempo changed. It was jazzy, bouncy and hot. I realized I was smiling for the first time in a long time.



I got online, googled "Taylor Hicks" and was directed to graycharles.com. I wanted to know if he had a CD out yet. I learned the release date for the CD and that he would be touring the CD in 2007.

During those sad months I escaped from my life by learning more about this Taylor guy. I listened to tracks of his original songs, read newspaper articles and watched his interviews- all supplied by this surprisingly cool group of fans I met through graycharles.com. We shared information and we waited for the tour dates to be announced.

In the meantime, I started planning a trip to Florida to see my family. My Uncle was celebrating his 70th birthday and I had agreed to fly over from Houston. Everyone thought it would be good for me to get away. Mom wrote in an e-mail that she was flying down from NY for the party. We decided to meet at the airport and rent a car together.

The party was planned for February 23rd, in a town not too far from Tampa. When the first dates of Taylor's tour were announced, I had to read them twice. He was doing a show in Tampa the DAY before my Uncle's party! Do you think God takes the time to make things like that happen? Maybe my mother-in-law had a hand in it.

My Mom told me I absolutely had to fly to Tampa a day early to go to that show. When I checked for concert tickets, I found it was already sold out. But luckily, someone from graycharles had an extra ticket in the fourth row! I mailed her a check and she sent me the ticket. It was all falling into place.

Mom and I met at the airport and drove to the hotel. We decided to walk around town a bit and see if we could find the theater. It was only a few blocks away, so I was all set for the concert that night.

As we stood at a light, waiting to cross the street back to our hotel, I noticed a large bus parked at the entrance. I said to my Mom, "That can't be Taylor's tour bus, could it?" Crossing the street and walking around to the other side of the bus, we saw about five people getting luggage out of the storage area. One of them was Taylor.

He was wearing a thick gray sweater, a scarf, a hat and sunglasses, but I knew it was him. He hopped back on the bus and the door closed. We decided to wait to take his picture as he walked into the hotel. As we loitered, a hotel employee told us to move to the side to "respect his privacy." Fine, you little hotel Nazi. We moved to the side.

Taylor finally came out, walked over to a man with a clipboard and signed something as we snapped photos. There were no other fans around. I was thinking, "Wow! Taylor Hicks is right there, like ten feet away from me! How cool is this?"

But then, through my camera lens, I saw him turn and walk towards me. (Holy crap! I thought, lowering my camera.) He said, "How y'all doing?" Without even saying hello, I blurted out, "Can I take a picture with you?" He said "sure", put down his backpack, turned towards my Mom's camera and slipped his arm around my waist.

I put mine around his, feeling awkward but aware that this was my chance to tell him how his voice had lifted me out of despair and that his determination was inspiring and that the way he can move people through music is a gift.

"How was the show last night?", was all I could manage. He replied, "good." Mom clicked the photo, we thanked him and he was gone.

I don't know what it means. I don't know if it even matters if you meet someone you admire. He forgot us the moment he walked away. But I'll never forget how nice he was to us.

He does indeed have a gift because here it is all this time later and even though all I've got is a mildly interesting story, the memory of that day and the show that night still makes me smile.






(I cut myself out of this photo.)