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’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 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


  1. Dear Caryl, I don't even know where to start! First, congratulations on getting this interview, and espiecailly for the wonderful questions and answers. It's just incredible. So intersting and different from any of the others.

    Loved how his fans could "fill in for him" if he wanted to sleep late! Haha! And loved hearing about what it was like to record The Distance and work with all the talented people he pulled together.

    I'm just floored girl! You done good. - Taylor really gave us some great insight, and I'm still crying over the thought of you leaving us.


  2. (All right,so I was too excited to remember to spell check... Please edit if you can. LOL)

  3. You're sweet. Thanks for the Birmingham question!

  4. That was a great interview, C. Congatulations! Just love this guy!


    Sorry about the anon, couldn't sign in.

  5. Caryl, You are fantastic! The interview was great..I was so happy reading all the answers. Taylor is so unique, talented, creative....
    But, I have to say when I got to the end I was sad. I don't want you to quit the blog....can't help it. It is wonderful...
    You have a gift, a way with words that is remarkable and you are so funny! Hope you reconsider.

  6. Caryl, as with the first interview, you brought a personal touch to the conversation - thank you for sharing it with us.
    Afraid I am distracted from the interview by your closing remarks though. I often read on the fly from whatever computer I'm on and have been lazy about commenting - for which I apologize .. but I have truly enjoyed your blog and hate to see you stop. Understand about breaks - as you know I disappear for stretches when this side of the computer screen gets hectic - hope you'll consider a hiatus instead of making a permanent departure.
    And I'm going to hope that your "productive pursuits" involve exercising your talent for writing and that you will eventually share the results with us.

    " These things I warmly wish to you -
    Someone to love
    Some work to do
    A bit o' sun
    A bit o' cheer
    And a guardian angel always near."

  7. yes, AH, I want to write professionally again. I'll let you all know what happens. thanks for your kind words.

  8. I'm commenting again because I was at work when NolaMar tweeted the link and I read it quickly on my phone. I wrote my first comment while driving, so I had to be quick. :-)

    That was a great interview, Caryl! I loved the questions you asked. It's apparent you took some time to do this right and it was perfect! The best I've read to date.

    You should be very proud of what you've printed here.

  9. Great interview. Maybe you could just be Taylor designated interviewer, LOL. The most exciting comment you got out of Taylor this time was when he was talking about his next CD and maybe making it half indie and half label. I thought all along this was a possibility. I know I have heard other artists talk about how selling alot of CD's on their own have helped them seal a good label deal. It sounds like Taylor has sold enough to warrant that. We are not privy to the numbers he has sold but at one time he said he expected to sell 100,000 by the end of Grease. If that is true it is certainly a great Indie number. I think Taylor as aways has a great long term game plan. I am so happy for him.

  10. Caryl, you have heart, soul, and a way with words. I'm glad you'll be writing more. You're a tweetheart, but 140 characters can be oh so limiting. Please let us know where you're published so that we can follow along, proud fans that we are.

  11. Drat girl! Just when you're hitting a "roll" with these inpromptu interviews with the ever elusive Taylor Hicks, you're leaving us?!?!

    All I can say is -- reading your stuff NEVER gets old and I'll look back often and fondly at the archives I hope you'll leave for us to check out.

    Take a rest and come back as soon.

  12. Caryl, Wow, what an exit, you do have a gift. What an interview, your questions were well thought out and just perfect. He seemed very relaxed the answers just flowed.

    I have really enjoyed your writings, Taylor Tues and your Caryl blog, but am so thrilled you will be persuing your dream of becoming a professional writer. With a sad selfish tear in my eye, will really miss you and your wonderful way with words, my very best to you in all your endevors. Keep in touch and let us know how things go!


  13. Caryl - This is certainly a bright spot in my world. I'm so pleased you were able to have such a great visit with him, and loved the different questions you asked him. I know you talked to him by phone, but since I saw you speak to him in person at the book signing in Houston, I can "picture" in my mind the two of you chatting about music.

    Like the others, I will miss your writings here. Best of luck to you in whatever you do.

    But, please, don't be a complete stranger to the Taylor Hicks Fan World.


  14. Caryl,

    You did a wonderful job as always! Your interviews with Taylor are always fresh and never the same hum-drum same old, we've grown so used too.

    I agree with AH- maybe take a bit of a sabbatical, instead of departing for good. Besides, from the sound of things, he's going to need someone (like you) to review his new CD and possibly interview him again about where he pulled from, for inspiration.

    Kudos to you for staying positive and being patient waiting for this interview. It paid off.


  15. Caryl, once again you have topped all the other Taylor Hicks interviews floating around the internet, well except for your previous interviews with the man. You really seem to be able to ask the questions that brings the true Taylor out. Thanks so much for helping us to connect with our favorite singer/songwriter/musician/entertainer.

    Good luck with your future endeavors, I know you will be successful.

  16. Great interview Caryl, much luck in your future endeavors. I know how it is, there is only so much time in a day and days in a week.

    I don't have much time for blogging anymore either, especially no time for following one artist and keeping tabs on him. Real life is just too real these days.

    I've cut way back on the twitter as well as night hours have been taken up with other pursuits.

    Hope you keep us posted on the real life of Caryl in your other blog. You only live once. Living through another person, using time talking them up and promoting them as so many fans seem to devote their free time for doing - isn't living YOU or living YOUR life.



  17. Caryl, Thanks for the interview, I enjoyed it! You asked some very good questions and got some equally good answers. Your efforts have always been appreciated. Best of luck with your future writing endeavors.
    ~Jenni Jac

  18. Caryl, I'm sick to see you leaving your blog...I don't comment alot but I've never missed a Taylor Tuesday and back when I was alone on this strange trip it always made me'll be sorely missed, good luck and I'll be buying your book for sure....Pattie

  19. Great interview! You asked the perfect questions. Thanks!

  20. I love hearing/reading Taylor talk about great songs. Thank you for asking about them.

    Please don't go away forever. I'm down to visiting only a few TH related sites now and this is one of them. :( Guess I'll "see" you on FB. Be well.


  21. I love how Taylor suggested that he might make Birmingham a regular deal - what we all want to hear!

    Learned some new stuff here in this interview for sure. Didn't know he and Elliot recorded WGHI together. Or that info about IAOK. Loved reading how that song affected him. He describes it the way he does MYS - tugging his heartstrings. It certainly does that every time I listen to it.

    I can see how being creative can be so draining. I've read recently about some artists just taking a week between tour shows to "write their new albums." Talk about some pressure. OK, now it's time to PRODUCE. Doesn't seem to me that it would "come" that way, but would be day to day, situations that inspire the creativity.

  22. Here's to Caryl, the Next Generation Erma Bombeck! (Will you remember us peons when you are famous???) Seriously why do you have to leave us? Just change the name of the blog from "Taylor Tuesday" to "Taylor - Now and Then" or "Taylor - Once in a While." We'll take anything! You always bring a smile or laughter to us whether here, on twitter, or other blogs. We need that. Guess we will just have to share you with the rest of the world, and follow you wherever your writing leads you. But you will be sorely missed here!

  23. caryl - I enjoyed the interview and you will be missed but I totally understand how time consumning and absorbing being an avid fan can be. May God bless your new (or ressurected) pursuits. Ü medolark

  24. Now I'm sorry I announced that Taylor Tuesday is finito in a paragraph at the end of the interview. I didn't mean to take the focus off of Taylor! All the thanks goes to him for making it happen and for giving thoughtful answers.

    But thanks, you guys. It's nice to know my efforts were appreciated.

  25. I'm a bit late to the gate. Caryl, your interview was excellent, Taylor can tell you are a pro. Who better to interview him then a fan with knowledge and composure. Don't know if you have a new salaried job or will be free lancing as a writer, but wish you well. Hope you have time to drop in on your buddies on other blogs, and if not I wish miss you. Oh yeah, thanks to Taylor for talking. rosie

  26. I will miss you, not wish miss you.

  27. I'm confused, I came there looking for Tuesday Taylor?!?

  28. Thank you Caryl for a very well thought out and insightful sure have a way with the man. Best wishes to you in all of your future endeavors...PatP

  29. Caryl,
    The interview was so personable. One can tell that Taylor has respect for this fan! Thank you for sharing it with us.
    I will miss you in Taylor-land. Your comments always shine.
    I understand your departure, as I have done the same in the past few months. I only came back yesterday to read around, and saw that little has changed among fans, sadly.
    In particular, I appreciated your support of my expression of an unpopular viewpoint on a particular occasion on iag. Your comments showed a fine character of fairness, even though you did not agree with my content. Thank you for that moment in meant a lot to me!
    God bless, Caryl. I think you are a class act, and believe you will find the richness (hopefully in more ways than one :-) ) you are looking for.

  30. Wow, Suze4158. That means a lot.

  31. Caryl, this was a Fantastic Interview! You have always done such a wonderful job. As a Huge Taylor Hicks fan, I really appreciate the job that you have done. I have always read your column, and have commented to you in the past.

    You asked great questions, and Taylor's answers were refreshing.

    Good luck to you. I will miss your news.

    Debbie Troxell (Debbie in Florida)

  32. May I echo Anon's sentiment?. You have been a light in our Hicks-inspired world and will be missed somethin' awful. Don't say GOODBYE, just SEE YA LATER. OK?

  33. Awesome interview. Taylor seems so comfortable and relaxed with you. Your questions are interesting and take him off of auto-pilot.

    Enjoy your new adventure - more time with family, friends, and attaining your goals.

    Please interview Taylor now and then and post it here. We need you to keep us in touch with the the down-to-earth Taylor.


  34. Caryl - I was sorry to read that this is your last entry. Well you definitely went out in grand style with the TH interview. You had some great questions! I think you have a real friend in Taylor. This is the fresh sort of interview that us true fans love to read/hear.

    Thanks for all the effort and insight you put into your blogs. I lurked weekly but didn't always post. There was always an intrigue on what topic you'd be writing about week after week. You done good. REAL good.

    Best of luck to you in your future endeavors. I hope to see you around. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and your family.

    Always remember to "share a smile", enjoy Taylor, and order a copy, or two, of WATW.

  35. So sorry to hear you are leaving Caryl. Have really enjoyed reading your stuff- congrats on all the fabulous Tay interviews.

    God bless you I wish you all the best!


  36. Graycharles . com is gonna miss Tuesday Taylor Such a SmartAss.

  37. There should have been a period after 'Taylor' in the post above.

  38. The best darned SmartAss there is! thanks.

  39. Caryl, I read your email to me and know you are asleep now. My puter is touchy, having a hissy fit for being almost 3 yrs old, and verizon is failing me. Haha, just noticed Graycharles weighed in above. Bless him, and I thank him for caring. Some are caring and friendly, open and honest and even generous with praise, and others less so. Take those words to heart and as my response to your email. Oh, And I so wish you happiness and success. rosie

  40. Haha - last night I saw the SmartAss's comment, and really thought someone came here looking for the dumbass doll. (So who is really the dumbass?)

  41. Really great Caryl - you've always produced wonderful Taylor interviews. Best of luck in your new ventures, hope you'll still drop in to some of the other sites - your comments & sense of humor are always appreciated!

  42. Thanks for the interview Caryl. It was great, much better than the samo old same old we hear all the time. Good luck on finding a "real" job. I'm sure you will be successful.

  43. Sorry, Same old

  44. I'm a sometime visitor and have laughed at many of your posts in the past. This is not the first time I've revisited a blog to find it was ending. It would make me sad if you weren't going on to other visible things. Loved this interview with Taylor. You do pull the answers out of him in a unique way. I, too, liked his comment about "heartstrings." BTW, found this today via Twitter @toofarnorth2. Best wishes Caryl.

  45. While I have taken issue with some of your blog entries, I gave/give you props for the two recent interviews with Taylor. As fans, it is often easier to come up with original questions as we can get over and under the superficial and delve into Taylor's career with a bit more depth and knowledge than most casual/professional interviewers.

    It is nice to hear that you want to reenter the media field and pursue it "full-time." Good luck with this career choice.

    My best wishes to you. Taylor was/is fortunate to have you as a fan.


  46. Thanks, cath!

    You took issue with some of my blog entries? huh. I thought I always kept it light, but I respect your opinion so I'll have to go look back.

    Yeah, I'm still a fan. I'll be around. Thanks for commenting!

  47. Nice job, Caryl. You and Taylor sound like old buds. Can we still find you at A-Caryling?

  48. Yes, jenny! I been neglecting it, but I plan to get back on a schedule after the holidays. Thanks for asking!

  49. Caryl, I just finished reading your post on IAG and I felt more than a twinge of guilt - almost like you were speaking to me.

    I read your latest interview with Taylor as soon as it hit my Google alerts and throughly enjoyed it. My guilt comes from not taking a few minutes right then and there and leaving you a comment. But I was rushed that morning and commenting slid down my list of things to do that day, until it reached the point where I just plain forgot.

    I've enjoyed your talks with Taylor very much. You two seems to share a rapport not many folks can claim, and that show in his willingness to give you answers that go beyond the usual sound bites we get.

    As far as being on anyone's unacceptable list ... I'd say Taylor himself is the only one with the right to deem any of his fans unacceptable. And I think it's safe to say he's far too kind to ever do so.

    You've been a gift to this fandom and I'm sad to see you go. I hope you'll come back to us one day and find things better.


  50. Wonder, I was afraid I'd be misunderstood. I wasn't aiming my comments at you, but I do appreciate you giving me your thoughts.

    To be honest, I thought I could have done a better job on this one. His management asked to see my questions first and then "suggested" which ones to focus on. I thought the interview came out a little choppy, bouncing from one topic to another.

    Gah! I have to just let that go. The interview is fine! Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment!

  51. "I thought the interview came out a little choppy, bouncing from one topic to another."

    But isn't that the way normal conversation goes? Part of the fun of your interview was that it was more a conversation and less of a, well, interview. :)

    Take your own advice and let it go. We're our own worst critics.

  52. Really good interview. You can tell Taylor appreciates your thoughtful questions. Thank you so much!

  53. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview - it is SO fun to get some answers with 'personality' from Taylor - guess that is what you get when you ask the right questions!

    Good Luck to you and ENJOY yourself as you move on..


  54. Caryl, whereas I appreciate your feelings that this post should have more comments, really mentioning that at Lisa's not really appropriate. I am confused why you seemingly chastised folks for not posting here or talking about the interview there. I must say I found that odd.

    Don't say I misunderstood, I haven't. Sure Hicks' did it for the fans, so what, are we to then all run to pay homage of some sort? Homage to your interview for his allowing it; I'm missing something here.

    If you scroll up you'll see I commented here shortly after you hit alerts.

  55. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  56. I know you commented, Sunny and I appreciate that. I shouldn't have gotten into it at iag. It was a personal thing between me and someone over there.

  57. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  58. My comments over at itsallgrey were misunderstood. I was very happy with the response I got. The post I deleted up there was just plain mean, but I asked for it.

    I know what happened between me and a few of Taylor's fans and the more I try to explain, the more ridiculous I look, so I'll just drop it. I should have stuck with my original plan to just let it go.

    It's not all about me. I don't want anyone to kiss my ass. I made a mistake by trying to "keep it real." Sometimes silence is best.

    I'm going to have to close comments because I refuse to let my words be twisted here at my own blog. I'll be raked over the coals elsewhere, though. That's unfortunate but it makes it easier for me to close this chapter.

    I appreciate the support I've been given. Be careful out there.

  59. Really, you need to explain yourself. I'm a fair person.

  60. Anonymous, I don't know what you're talking about. It's over.

  61. Just to clarify: Taylor did this interview for the ESTABLISHED fans. The interviews he does on morning shows, etc...are geared towards attracting new fans. This one was just for us, the people who already know his songs and what he's been doing.