~ Like the ripples in a pond, the work of one man spreads out and touches the lives of others ~

From The Soul of One ~ To The Hearts Of Many
Taylor Hicks "The Distance"

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Classic Fit For Taylor Hicks

New York, New York
"Start spreadin' the news"
The New York Times - The New York Post

Taylor Hicks joins the Broadway cast of 'Grease' on June 6th!
Playing the part of Teen Angel, Taylor plans to add "soulful flavor" to his performance of "Beauty School Dropout".
The flashy role, he said, is "a classic fit for a classic performer".

Affectionately known as The Big Apple, (Manhattan) is by many measures one of the most important cities in the world.

Today's featured song is "New York State Of Mind" and
'The Muppets Take Manhattan'
is what popped into my mind!

Now you are probably wondering if I have suddenly become a big Muppet fan, considering my last blog Shades of Green featured a discussion between Taylor and Kermit.

The answer is no, it is just coincidence that the Muppets are a classic fit for this blog post!

In the movie "The Muppets Take Manhattan', Kermit and the gang decide to take their college variety act to New York and try to make it on Broadway.

In a nutshell, trials and tribulations abound, including a case of amnesia for Kermit, but in the end the show is a hit!

Wouldn't it be grand to read the words Taylor Hicks Takes Manhattan, afterall he is in a New York State of Mind!

Taylor Hicks ~ "New York State Of Mind"
From Boots, Blues and BBQ with Taylor Hicks

video capture: Ragsqueen
(Thank You Mandy!)

"New York State of Mind" is a song written by Billy Joel which initially appeared on the album Turnstiles in 1976.

While initially not a hit when it was first released, as the "B" side to the single "Say Goodbye to Hollywood", it has gotten much more frequent airplay in recent years.

"New York State of Mind" enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and radio airplay after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and is frequently played after New York Mets, New York Knicks and New York Rangers games.

Billy Joel performed "New York State Of Mind" at the 2001
"Tribute To Heroes" telethon to benefit victims of the terrorist attacks on the US.
To honor the rescue workers who lost their lives in the tragedy, Joel played with the helmet of one of the New York City Firefighters who died in The World Trade Center on his piano.

This is one of the most famous songs about New York City.
Some others are "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra, "On Broadway" by The Drifters, and "New York City Serenade" by Bruce Springsteen.

The Muppets' Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem performed "New York State Of Mind" on the Season 2 episode of The Muppet Show featuring Madeline Kahn.
Floyd sings "New York State of Mind", backed by Dr. Teeth and Zoot.
(In Season 3 they performed it with Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge.)

Dr. Teeth on keyboards and vocals
Floyd Pepper on bass guitar and vocals
Zoot on saxophone
Janice on lead guitar, tambourine, and vocals
Animal on drums

"New York State Of Mind" was influenced by Ray Charles, who like Joel was a singer, songwriter and piano player.
Joel did a duet with Charles in 1986 on his song "Baby Grand".
Billy Joel has said he always hoped to play "New York State Of Mind with Ray Charles like he did with "Baby Grand".

Taylor Hicks never got a chance to perform with his Idol, Ray Charles, but he did have an "unbelievably magical experience" on a visit to the Ray Charles estate and Legacy Studio.
The result of that visit was an offer by Ray's managers to record a song in the room where so many of Ray's masterpieces were created when they said to Taylor,
"If Ray was still around, he would have loved the hell out of you."

Today's cup:
The world speaks to me in colors, my soul answers in music.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Shades of Green

Several months ago I had begun collecting photos and information to do a blog revolving around the color red and how that color related to Taylor Hicks.

To my surprise ... before I had finished putting everything together, someone (sorry I've forgotten who) touched on the very same topic and it appeared in The Soul Connection Enzine.

What were the chances that somebody else was thinking along the very same lines at the very same time?

Needless to say it was redundant for me to continue, but I was still intrigued by how colors played out in our lives and I started thinking about the color green!

Kermit the Frog has always been the spokesperson for the color green.

"Bein' Green," originally titled "Green", is one of Kermit the Frog's best-known songs.

It was written by Joe Raposo for the first season of Sesame Street.
It has since become a American standard.

In the song, Kermit expresses his ambivalence about the color of his skin, noting that green "blends in with so many other ordinary things" and wishing that he were some other color instead.

By the end of the song, however, Kermit makes more positive associations with the color and decides "it's beautiful, and I think it's what I want to be."

Thoughts of the discussion that might occur between Taylor and Kermit popped into my mind.

It would be an inspirational meetings of minds, told from both sides of the coin, about embracing who you are and learning to love yourself.

Whether you have feeling of blending in and being ordinary or
standing out 'cause you are different!

Naturally their conversation would take them to thoughts about Taylor Hicks' Idol, Ray Charles, and of course Soul Music!

photo caption:
Kermit and Ray Charles sing "Bein' Green" on 'Cher' in 1975.

"Everything about the pain and experience in Ray Charles' voice touches a raw nerve in me.

I can feel not only the man's pain, but also his strength and determination to endure and triumph against long odds.
Whenever I find the going a little tough, I think about how hard life on the road must have been for Ray - this brilliant blind black man trying to find his way in an extremely racist world.

The music that's in my heart - soul music - taught me loudly and clearly that racism is nothing but pure ignorance.

Soul music spoke to me - not because of the color of anybody's skin but because of the beauty and the power of its sound and the universal purity of its message."
Taylor Hicks ~ 'Heart Full of Soul'

"Jim Henson took a simple song and a piece of felt and turned it into a moment of great power.
The song says it's not easy being green, but the song is about knowing who you are, and in it you can hear Jim's message loud and clear.
We should learn to love who we are and be proud of it.
And that's the way we learn to love each other."
~Ray Charles~

The song, which in its initial airings, was aimed at underprivileged children, has been interpreted as an anthem about embracing one's race.
It was described in a Children's Television Workshop press release as "a frog's poignant realization of his own dignity and worth."

On to the other side of the coin ... from my blog topic
'Dare To Be Different'
Take advantage of your difference and make it work for you.
Make your own way!

"From the beginning my main focus was turning my biggest disadvantage into an advantage.
The undeniable truth is that by nearly every standard, I didn't fit in.
I was older, fatter, and I had gray hair.
So I decided the smart thing to do was embrace my oddness for all it was worth ... like they say, vive la difference."
From 'Heart Full Of Soul' by Taylor Hicks
(An inspirational memoir about finding your voice and finding your way)

Shades of Green
Green means GO.
Green means Money (in the US).
Green means eco-friendly.

Good green ...
Green light - go, permission to proceed (with a task)

The green room - in theater or televisions it is the room where performers and guests go to relax

Green thumb - good with plants

Greenback - US dollar bill, money

Greener pastures - something newer or better (or perceived to be better), such as a new job

Bad green ....
Green-eyed monster - jealosy

Green with envy - jealous or envious

Green - inexperienced, untested, untrained

Greenhorn - novice, trainee, beginner

Green around the gills - pale, sickly

Today's cup is from:
'Before You Leap': a Frogs-eye View of Life’s Greatest Lessons
by Kermit The Frog

And it's another Daily Double ...

“Success is believing in yourself, then convincing everyone else that you’re right.”

“Every Journey Begins With A Single Hop”

Today's blog topic ends with Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, singing about "Bein' Green".

"Bein' Green" was also recorded by such notables as Van Morrison, Buddy Rich, Don Henley, Tony Bennet and Diana Ross.

I hope you've enjoyed my colorful musings!
Colors answer feeling in man; shapes answer thought; and motion answers will.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Big City Lights

As in the mystery and suspense novels I read, I now find myself looking for hidden clues in musical lyrics.

What a song really means and whether the artist is trying to tell us something.

Pretty much you can search for any great song and find an ongoing discussion with numerous viewpoints guessing about the real meaning behind a song.

The songs I've chosen to talk about today are connected, their lyrics have clear-cut messages as well as hidden ones.

The artists who have written and/or recorded these songs represent varied genres, yet the stories being sung are threads from the same tapestry.

Big City Lights began as I pondered my thoughts on the neon lights of Broadway that will soon be shining on Taylor Hicks, and as my thoughts unraveled, thoughts of Hollywood just naturally followed.

The first song that popped into my mind and stayed there was Bob Seger's "Hollywood Nights".

Taylor Hicks' infamous recording of "Hollywood Nights" for Rehearsals.com was probably the most discussed, and as a song choice it has always been the subject of much discussion.
(Click here for streaming media of Taylor's Rehearsals.com - "Hollywood Nights" and more!)

Taylor's performances of "Hollywood Nights" were highly received on the American Idol Tour and the song a perfect vehicle for him to showcase not only his vocals but also his ability as a great performer and a musician.

I've chosen to revisit his "Hollywood Nights" performance at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, as Chicago certainly falls in the Big City category, and like his rehearsals version ... it's a WOW performance!

There is a signature richness and power to the music that Bob Seger has been making for four decades, and as succeeding generations have discovered those qualities, his reputation as an artist and songwriter has only grown.

His work represents the honest best of what rock & roll can be.
It’s passionate, unpretentious, uplifting and true to itself and its audience.

Perhaps most of all it is distinctly American, a plainspoken testament to the dignity, hopes and aspirations of ordinary working people.
In a time as obsessed with glamour, celebrity, fame and materialism as ours, his songs remain a bracing tonic, an emblem of the belief that everyone’s life is a worthy subject of art.

The next song that came to mind as I unraveled my thoughts was "Blinded By The Light" written and first recorded by Bruce Springsteen.

Click here if video above will not play for you.

This was Springsteen's first single.
It was released only in the US, where it was not well received.

It was a #1 hit for Manfred Mann's Earth Band in 1976.
Their version was much more elaborately produced, and Springsteen hated it at first.

Manfred Mann's version replaces the line "Cut loose like a deuce" with "Revved up like a deuce."
In their version, "Deuce" was commonly misheard as "Douche."

Springsteen's original line makes a lot more sense - a deuce is a 1932 Ford hot rod.
Springsteen wrote this after Columbia Records rejected his first attempt at an album, telling him to make some songs that could be played on the radio.

He came up with this and "Spirit In The Night".

After 8 years playing in bars where audiences usually didn't listen to or couldn't hear the words, Springsteen used his first album to unload a ton of lyrics.

All these lyrics helped earn Springsteen the tag "The New Dylan."

This next song is titled "Hollywood".
I wasn't familiar with it, I just happened to run across it's lyrics and decided to include it here even though it's a bit on the wild side for me musically.

P.O.D ~ "Hollywood"

While they play around with the infectious grooves of reggae and Latin music as well as the heavy deliverance of hip-hop and rock, San Diego's hard rock four-piece P.O.D. has defined a universal message.
They're born-again Christians and their faith takes a central place in their music.

Lastly, "On Broadway", originally made famous by the Drifters.

I must admit that the news of Taylor heading to Broadway caught me by surprise, even though I know he loves the stage, I had never really considered that might include Broadway stages.

Guess I should have paid more attention to his "On Broadway", he usually gives us clues in the songs he chooses to sing.

So I guess my question is ... has Broadway always been part of Taylor's dream?

George Benson ~ "On Broadway"

George Benson is simply one of the greatest guitarists in jazz history, but he is also an amazingly versatile musician, and that frustrates to no end critics who would paint him into a narrow bop box.

He can play in just about any style -- from swing to bop to R and B to pop -- with supreme taste, a beautiful rounded tone, terrific speed, a marvelous sense of logic in building solos, and, always, an unquenchable urge to swing.

Not only can he play lead brilliantly, he is also one of the best rhythm guitarists around, supportive to soloists and a dangerous swinger, particularly in a soul-jazz format.

Yet Benson can also sing in a lush soulful tenor with mannerisms similar to those of Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, and it is his voice that has proved to be more marketable to the public than his guitar.

That's it for today's musical musing.
I hope you've enjoyed the music, especially Taylor's "Hollywood Nights".

I wonder if Broadway will know what hit them when all the musical passion that fills Taylor explodes on stage!

Today's cup:

"If you wish to succeed in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius."
~Joseph Addison~

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's Not All Black And White

Sometimes you gotta throw in some neon.

They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway
They say there's always magic in the air
Well we know wherever Taylor Hicks is ... magic happens!

I ran across the following article which was written a year ago tomorrow, and in light (neon that is) of Taylor's Big news that hit the wires last night, I thought it timely to take a look back at this interview that took place as Taylor was nearing the final leg of his Spring Tour.

Taylor Hicks sells out Atlantic City

By J.R. Taylor
May 17, 2007

I've interviewed many famous people, including several from my parents' generation.
Taylor Hicks, however, is the only celebrity who has ever prompted my mother to ask if I could get her an autograph.
That's pretty impressive.
I've interviewed William Shatner, and everybody wants William Shatner's autograph.
But my mother only cares for Taylor Hicks.

The problem—and I'm thinking about this on the drive from New York to Atlantic City—is that Taylor Hicks has every right to refuse the simplest favor for anyone who's ever covered the Birmingham music scene.
What did any of us ever do for him back when he was struggling to get an afternoon slot in a moldy City Stages tent?

If I were Taylor Hicks, I'd have set up this interview simply to exact bloody revenge on anybody from the South.
All I have to offer Hicks is the fun fact that I was at the Flora-Bama Bar last week, and it seems that he doesn't owe anybody there any money.
I'm hoping that'll put him in a good mood.

• • •

Taylor Hicks is taller than you'd expect.
He's also more handsome.
He looks like a heterosexual Jake Gyllenhaal.
I've never met anyone from Birmingham with such a perfect Elvis Presley drawl, but it doesn't matter if that's an affectation.
Hicks makes it sound perfectly natural.

“I was 30 years old and playing Wednesday nights at DanielGeorge restaurant, and everyone would come in with their business suits and their 401k plans and their aspirations, and I was stuck hoping that I’d be playing at a Steak and Ale on Thursday night.”

We're in the dressing room of the Music Box Theatre at the Borgata Hotel Casino.
Jet was using it last Saturday.
Wanda Sykes will be here the Saturday after this.
Hicks has finished his sound check, and he's dressed in an outfit that looks exactly like the one on the cover of his major-label debut.
It seems he casually poses in what is his actual casual wear.

Most important, Hicks is happy to talk to someone from Black and White.
"I ran some ads with you guys," he notes.

And yet, I reply, pre-"Idol", Black and White ignored him like every paper in Birmingham did.

"I wouldn't necessarily say that I was—well, yeah.
It wasn't just Birmingham.
I had my two albums out, and I was trying to get over to Atlanta to play, and I was doing anything and everything to be heard.
I went unnoticed, but I wasn't big enough.
You can't cover everybody.
If somebody is not making a buzz, you're sure not going to cover him."

So every thing is okay between us and Taylor Hicks.
That's a relief.

• • •

I arrived in Atlantic City thinking that Taylor Hicks was a likable guy who deserved respect for not making a crappy pop album in the wake of "American Idol".

Hicks' major-label debut is perfectly fine as major-label pop albums go, and has some strong playing.
But I'm still not expecting what I hear during the sound check.
It seems that a Taylor Hicks concert is surprisingly raw.
And impressive.
The guy has a great voice when he gets to take the top down.
It's a big difference from what we heard winning over the hearts and minds of teenagers and housewives voting via their cell phones.

I'm suddenly interested in hearing what he has planned for his next album.
He could really do justice to obscure blues-rock songs by acts such as Blodwyn Pig.
Hicks could make the kind of daring album that would either establish him an important artist or send him off to the jam-band circuit as a surprisingly entertaining oddity.
Huey Lewis does that a lot nowadays, and Hicks already has enough money to enjoy the same indulgence.
I ask Hicks what his income tax was like compared to last year's.

"Financially," he says, "it's better right now, but I'm dealing with The Man—as opposed to having never really had to deal with him.
You know, I was 30 years old and playing Wednesday nights at DanielGeorge [restaurant], and everyone would come in with their business suits and their 401k plans and their aspirations, and I was stuck hoping that I'd be playing at a Steak & Ale on Thursday night.
Terrell Owens once said that the only person who could cover him is the IRS.
I know what he's talking about now."

As for that aggressive live sound—well, Hicks isn't afraid of scaring an audience that might include my mother.

"There are so many preconceived notions about me.
The only thing I have is my live show and my songs.
That's it.
I have to be booked.
I'll always hang my hat on being a live performer, because that's my bread and butter.
My shows will always have that edge that comes from years of performing.
There's room for me to play around as an instrumentalist, and I'm working with an incredible caliber of musicians.
Tonight's audience is going to hear the best live music that I've played in my whole life."

• • •

Hicks appreciates his own good fortune.
Even better, he isn't kidding himself about his strange career.

"I know that I may not be as hot as I am in two or three years," he says.
"I understand the business.
I'm having to re-establish myself having just been established.
There aren't too many artists in the world who can say that.
Billy Earl McClelland was Delbert McClinton's old guitar player, and he was my sideman when I was 18.
That's still amazing to me.
He once said to me, 'It's not how you get there; it's if you get there.' That's stuck with me for a long time.
It's always going to be an uphill battle for me, and that's okay."

• • •

Atlantic City on a Saturday night in April can be kind of slow.
Many resorts aren't even booking headliners for their theaters.
George Carlin is in town, and there's something called The Sammy Davis, Jr., Revue.
Otherwise, Taylor Hicks doesn't have much competition.

That's not why his show at the Borgata is sold out.
He won't just be playing to big spenders who got handed free tickets.
Hicks has drawn a group of hard-core fans.
There are already lots of Taylor Hicks T-shirts visible in the casinos — "Drink until he's Taylor Hicks," proclaims one — and plenty of enthused females who are clearly here for more than a spin of the slots.

Most of these women have likely driven in from Philadelphia.
They're the types that I like to call Philbillies, but that's no reflection on Hicks.
He'll be playing New York City in a few weeks, and that shows also on the way to selling out.
I tell Hicks that he's going to really enjoy doing a show in Manhattan's Beacon Theater.
It turns out that he already has.

"I played with the Allman Brothers there," he explains, "on their last night when they did a lot of shows.
I played some harmonica.
That's definitely one of the pluses of having this kind of opportunity.
I started out in a Widespread Panic cover band, and I just sat in with those guys in Cleveland.
I've exceeded every expectation I ever had for my career.
If you had told me a year and a half ago that I'd ever sell 700,000 units, I would've looked at you like you were crazy.
I'm really enjoying this."

• • •

The big Taylor Hicks show is over.
It went very well.
He had the fans hooked.
It makes sense.
You're some suburban gal goofing on being part of a Soul Patrol, and then you get the Taylor Hicks live experience and realize that he's the real deal.
I bet many of his older fans were into Bonnie Raitt and thought of Taylor as their transition into easy listening.
Instead, they discover that they're still capable of tapping into some rough rhythm 'n' blues.

Now I'm sitting at a bar in the Borgata next to a woman from Asbury Park who's asks, "Where do you think Taylor Hicks lives now?"
I'd asked Hicks that question a few hours before — although it seemed to me that the guy must have been homeless for the past year.

"Yeah," said Hicks, "I have no permanent address.
I have an alias.
I don't have a home."

Then he leaned in close: "If you think about it, it's really cool."

• • •

This, incidentally, is how Hicks autographs the CD for my mother:
"Soul Patrol! Taylor Hicks"
That's no good.
He doesn't have to cover Blodwyn Pig, but Hicks should really take my advice on this one.
The entire Soul Patrol thing has to go.
I won't let my mother be part of it.

There was magic in the air and neon lights too, when Taylor Hicks performed in Atlantic City @ The Music Box Theater.
Here are two videos that captured a taste of his magic!

Borgata Hotel Casino, Atlantic City, NJ
April 14, 2007

video capture by dg90001
(Thank you!)

video capture by Azgoddess
(Thank you!)

One year later ...

Taylor Hicks: I'm Bringing the Soul Patrol to Broadway
By Ivory Clinton and Christina Tapper
Friday May 16, 2008

Taylor Hicks is following in the footsteps of Fantasia and Clay Aiken:
The American Idol winner will make his Broadway debut June 6.

Hicks tells PEOPLE he can't wait to perform in Grease.
"I'm truly honored to have a role in such an American institution," says Hicks, who made the announcement Friday on the Today Show.
"I'm going to Broadway shows and just watching and learning."

While in New York City, the Alabama native will also record his country-influenced second album.

"I've been spending a lot of time with songwriters in Nashville," Hicks tells PEOPLE.
"I can really breathe creatively without the constraints of a post-Idol album."

He also plans to tackle some serious issues.
"It's an election year so there will be some political undertones.
I've become a sponge while creating each song, soaking up what's going on whether it's political or about love."

Since he was recently dropped from his record label, he's considering releasing the upcoming album himself.
"It's motivation," says Hicks.
"This is a marathon for me, not a sprint.

But he'll make time for some N.Y.C. fun as well.
"I need to go to the Statue of Liberty for the first time," he says, adding that he knows one way he'll try to fit in with the natives.

Says Hicks: "I'll have to figure out what fan I should be, Yankees or Mets!"

May 16th, 2008
Taylor Hicks Heads To Broadway

A performer at heart, with the world his stage,
there is no pigeon holing Taylor Hicks ...
he goes where the music leads him.

On that musical note, I'll finish today's blog with this thought!

Today's cup:
When you go in search of honey, you must expect to be stung by bees.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Marvellous Night For A Moondance

The start of this perfectly lovely Spring evening began with the arrival of
Alabama's first lady escorted by Alabama's own, Taylor Hicks, at the benefit for Hannah Home Shelby presented by
Governor and Mrs. Riley.

Patsy Riley is a gracious and engaging lady and her participation in the night's festivities added to the evening's success ... and she confessed to being just as charmed as we are by our handsome
Soul Man.

Taylor opened his acoustic set at the Boots, Blues and BBQ benefit, with his version of Van Morrison's "Moondance".

I have to say I was so excited I could hardly contain myself.
I have been waiting and hoping that some day I'd have the opportunity to hear him perform it, and it was fantabulous.

With Jeff Lopez on the flute and Brian Less on the keys, it was a dream come true for me!

"Moondance" from Boot, Blues, and BBQ with Taylor Hicks

When I first started my TAYLOR HICKS MY IDOL Blogspot, one of my very first blogs was titled "Moondance".

Although TAYLOR HICKS MY IDOL, Taylor's Scrapbook Tribute, has been in existence since April of 2006, it was not until the Fall of 2007 that I starting blogging as an extension of his scrapbook.

I've recopied below my October "Moondance" blog, as you can see it took seven months for my wish to be granted ... it was well worth the wait!

I do believe that Autumn has arrived, from 90 to 50 degrees seemingly overnight! It is my favorite season, and the reason I named my beautiful daughter, Autumn!

The October skies brought to mind one of my favorite Van Morrison songs that I would love Taylor to add to his set list or even better ... to record it!

Can't you just imagine Taylor's take on this song, there would be even more thudding than when he sings 'let's get it on'!

Van Morrison's "MOONDANCE"
Well it's a marvellous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
to the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heart-strings that play soft and low
You know the night's magic
Seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight
Seems to shine in your blush ....
Can I just have one a' more moondance
With you, my love?
Can I just make some more romance
With a' you, my love?
Well I wanna make love to you tonight
I can't wait till the morning has come
And I know the time is just right
And straight into my arms you will run
And when you come my heart will be waiting
To make sure that you're never alone
There and then all my dreams will come true dear
There and then I will make you my own
And every time I touch you
You just tremble inside
And I know how much you want me
That, you can't hide ....

Ready for your moondance ???

You can watch a spectacular one here:

Today's cup:

"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are
something to do, something to love, and something to hope for."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Remember To Take Time To Smell The Flowers

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Red Carpets And Red Roses

photo caption:
Taylor Hicks ~ Kentucky Derby Red Carpet

The Kentucky Derby, also called Run for the Roses, is a $2 million stakes race held every first Saturday of May and is the first leg of the Triple Crown Races and is run at Churchill Downs Race Track in Louisville, Kentucky.

Some say Derby season is one non-stop party, from the time Thunder Over Louisville kicks off to the starry crescendo of Derby Eve's Barnstable Brown Gala, to the afterglow of the Louisville Urban League Guild Moonlight Cruise.

Not to mention the Kentucky Derby itself, which explodes with as much celebrity spectacle as one river city can handle.

Imagine my surprise when I first begin the search for photos of Taylor from the Derby's Grand Gala and a Yahoo photo search brought me face to face with my own photo next to George Clooney.
It really must have been some party, cause I can't remember being there with George!
I couldn't resist adding it here, though it would have been even cooler had Taylor's photo appeared on my left!

The stars were shining bright at the Crown Royal Playboy Lounge Party, held at the Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center.
It was, by far, the biggest Derby-related Playboy party to date in terms of celebrities and guests.

photo caption:
Travis Tritt and Taylor Hicks arrive at the Crown Royal Playboy Lounge Party in Louisville (Darron Cummings/AP)

photo caption:
Taylor Hicks @ Crown Royal Playboy Lounge Party
Friday night at the Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center

Who is "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks rooting for on this season's show?

"David Archuleta. He kind of reminds me of Wayne Newton.
You know, the "Danke Schoen" at (17).
He's a young entertainer. (He'll do great) if he could just sustain himself when he tours.
From that show, it doesn't necessarily have to be music, it could be film.
The show form is television. There could be ample opportunities (for him) in the entertainment industry."

Hicks, meanwhile, will drop a new album this fall; a DVD called "Whomp at the Warfield," a two-disc set of his pre-"American Idol" songs and is planning tours in Asia and Italy.

"I never thought country boy from Alabama could go over to Asia and have a fan base," he said, sipping on a Jack Daniels and 7.
"The soul patrol reaches around the globe.
It's an international concept."

photo caption:
Taylor Hicks @ Crown Royal Playboy Lounge Party

photo caption:
Grand Gala Reception - 2008 Marriott Hotel
American Idol star Taylor Hicks chatted with admirers.
(By Geoff Oliver Bugbee, Special to the Courier-Journal)

The Grand Gala event has become one of the must-attend events during the Kentucky Derby weekend.
The gala benefits the 828 Foundation, which identifies and supports several non-profit youth services in the city, including the United Negro College Fund, Youth ALIVE, and the Oasis Life Center.

photo caption:
Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky
Betting With The Stars
Taylor Hicks @ The Grand Gala VIP Reception

"My buddy, I think his plane got hit by lightning.
So when he hit the ground I said, 'Well, I guess we're going to have to put some money on Smooth Air because that's what you need going on'."
His other pick: Denis of Cork. "My trying out for American Idol was a longshot, so I'm into longshot winners for sure."

Kentucky Derby Betting Update
(From Taylor's Myspace)
Taylor ended up taking the popular choice and put his bet for Studio By The Tracks on Pyro.
Since Big Brown ended up taking the prize, the bet was not won.
Taylor will still match his bet of $5000 with an equal donation to Studio By The Tracks.

photo caption:
Young Lifestyle deems Taylor Hicks one of the Best Dressed Guys attending the 134th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

Young Life Style is the Ultimate Guide to being Smart Young and Hot!!!

photo caption:
Taylor Hicks attends the 134th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs
"We are waiting for the former American Idol to grace the stage this season and put out a new album." ~ Young Lifestyles

And they're off ...

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And though Big Brown won the race, Taylor Hicks, our own brown-eyed handsome man, wins the day!

Today's cup: Is A Daily Double
"Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities:
It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak."
~Thomas Carlyle~

"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."
~Art Linkletter~

Thursday, May 1, 2008

American Dreams

I just happened to turn my TV on Wednesday night, I am not a TV watcher, haven't followed American Idol before or since
Taylor Hicks won.
My blog title is telling, Taylor Hicks is MY Idol.

I wish the young hopefuls much success, but what caught my attention was the fact that Neil Diamond would be performing a new song, from his soon to be released CD 'Home Before Dark'!

I had heard through the grapevine that Mr. Diamond was the mentor on American Idol this week and had thought about tuning in just to see him, but of course I forgot ... I just don't ever think about watching television.

I'm not sure what prompted me to turn it on Wednesday night, but I am so thankful that I did!

The new song he performed was "Pretty Amazing Grace", and as you read further you will understand how very specially this song touched me.

"Pretty amazing grace is how you saved me
And with amazing grace, reclaimed my heart
Love in the midst of chaos
Calm in the heat of war
Showed with amazing grace
What love is for

You overcame my loss of hope and faith
Gave me a truth I could believe in
You led me to that higher place
Showed me that love, truth, hope, grace
Were all I needed"

You see, I'm not not the only one in my family who has had an Idol, the first person to be mesmerized by an artist's music was my son Jonathan.

Neil Diamond was his Idol and from the time he was about 4 years old he could sing every Neil Diamond song and bring you to tears.

The song that first caught his attention was "Coming To America", and from that point on Neil Diamond was his hero.

If you've read my blog post for St. Jude's titled Heart, Soul and Blueberry Poptarts, you'll remember that it was dedicated to Jonathan.

My son never got to realize his dreams, and I believe it is one of the reasons why I have become so devoted to Taylor Hicks living his dream come true.

I admire the fine young man Taylor has become, just as much as I love the way his music touches my heart and makes me feel.

Today's young people would do well to look to the example that Taylor Hicks sets.

I'm proud of his charitable endeavors and impressed that he has so much interest in bettering the lives of children.

Children need heroes, someone to look up to, someone to make them believe in their dreams, and for my son it was Neil Diamond.

Listening to Neil Diamond on American Idol brought back so many wonderful memories, and sad ones too.

I'm typing with tears in my eyes and my heart in my throat, cause I've just now realized that when I lost Jonathan, it was also when the music died for me.

It took 15 years for music to come back into my life and I have Taylor Hicks to thank for providing the key to unlocking that door.

Like Jonathan's hero, Neil Diamond, I believe that Taylor has a long and successful career ahead of him.

American Idol was the vehicle that Taylor Hicks drove to realize his dreams, but it is his heart and soul along with his passion for good music, that will keep his career on a never ending journey!!

Before I share today's superb videos, I'd like to share a special poem that was written by the editor of one my local newspapers in honor of my son and their friendship.

I would like to tell you a story.
This is a sad story, but I want you not to be sad.
It's a story about a little friend of mine.
But you must promise me not to take it sadly.
For you see my little friend would never want for you to be sad.
He would never want you to grieve for him.
He would only wish you happiness and laughter your whole life though.

His strength and joy is something we all can learn from.
Something we all can admire in him, and somewhere down inside our self, knowing when it need to be drawn upon, it will be there.

This young friend of mine is Jonathan, and in his passing he left behind a gift of love, and happiness for the world to behold.
His laughter and joy has rung out in each and everyone that has ever had the pleasure of meeting this young friend of mine.

If you have met this "man" of seven years, don't give in to your need for tears. His strength while on this earth should be enough to keep you going when the going is tough!
His love of life, and just being here, will give us strength to face the coming years!
Jonathan in need, my tears remember, my friend I hold you dear.

I will not talk to you of sickness or fear.
Of suffering or pain, for he faced it all and never complained.
He took it on and dealt with it, in a way a Roman soldier would see fit.
And take it from me, this friend of mine, would not want me to mention it.

At his funeral, packed full of friends and loved ones, never have I seen a more loved young "man".
With his young school friends next to his grave, someone read "please do not weep for me for I'm not dead".
I agree with them for you see even in the balloon launch for Jonathan, not did the balloons just fly away, but got hung up in the trees for us to enjoy their beauty.
For like Jonathan they couldn't just float away, but stayed for a moment for us to enjoy their beauty in being here.
God bless you Jonathan and thank you for being here!
Your friend, George

Ladies and Gentlemen ... The Legendary Mr. Neil Diamond

My Good friend Karin always has my back, she captured both nights of Neil Diamond's appearances on American Idol and created this outstanding video!
Thank you Karin, it is a treasure and so are you my friend!!

Neil Diamond ~ "Coming To America"

In a recent interview with ABC News, New York, Neil talked about his new CD and solo acoustic tour, this is what caught my attention in the article:

"Critical acclaim is always helpful, any kind of encouragement for an artist is helpful, but my music is going to be written or recorded with or without critical acclaim.
I appreciate it when it comes, but it will not stop me for a moment when I don't get it."

Today's cup:

"Some people quietly make a difference in our lives and will always be heroes unaware.
You don't become a hero because of what you do, but because of who you are."