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!