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.


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.


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.