Monday, March 31, 2008
'Enchanted April' adapted from Elizabeth von Arnim's early 1920's novel.
Have you ever gone on vacation to an exotic place and found that your body, heart, and soul are miraculously refreshed?
Certain places can do that, and such transformations are nothing less than spiritual.
(Think of the feeling that comes over you listening & watching Taylor singing)
In my last blog topic 'It's About Time', I talked about gardening for your soul, and how I am eagerly anticipating getting out to play in my gardens.
Since for many of us Mother Nature hasn't decided to grace us with anything resembling Spring weather, nor are there any Taylor Hicks concerts currently on the horizon to revive our spirits ... I decided to look for something that would give us at least a few hours of having our spirits restored till Taylor's done planting his musical flower!
(My anticipation is running high and I can't wait till it blooms!)
What I found is the chick flick 'Enchanted April'.
I haven't seen it, nor have I read the book, but it sounds like just the thing to help chase the blahs away!
One drab, rainy, and wretched day in London, Lottie Wilkins sees a newspaper ad for the month-long rental of a medieval castle in Italy on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Dreaming of liberation from her oppressive husband and the chores of attending to his needs, she convinces Rose, another unhappily married woman, to join her in this grand escape and once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
They ask two strangers to join them: Lady Caroline, a high society beauty who is fed up with the men who swarm around her, and Mrs. Fisher, a reclusive older woman whose closest friends were an illustrious group of now dead Victorian writers.
Although these women come from different classes and different stages of life, they share in common a need to put aside their burdens and find themselves again.
Before long, they are revitalized by the sun, the sea, and the scent of flowers in the Italian paradise.
Feeling flooded by love, Dottie and Rose even invite their husbands to share the magic of the place.
Director Mike Newell takes an out-of-the-ordinary situation and setting and makes us believe it is within our reach.
A holiday, this delightful film says, can be a spiritual experience.
'Enchanted April' one of the best movies of the year (1992).
A viewers review:
This is a lovely, spirit-restoring movie.
From the use of the actual villa that inspired Elizabeth Arngrim to write the novel in the 1920s to the inspired casting, every choice was perfectly right!
The quiet joy of this film doesn't stale after repeated viewings.
I was hoping I could find a small clip of 'Enchanted April' somewhere on line, but my searches didn't reap anything.
Maybe some of you have already seen the movie, is it as wonderful as it sounds?
What I did find that fits in very nicely here today, is Sugarland's "April Showers".
If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul,
by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.
Hope you have a bloomin' wonderful day!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Every year just like clockwork Spring offers us an excellent opportunity to declutter and clean our home of unnecessary stuff!
Every year just like clockwork I chuck that idea and head outdoors!
Spring is a time of rebirth and rejuvenation!
After being cooped up all winter long, just opening the windows and letting fresh air in won't do it for me.
I need to be out communing with Mother Nature.
I'm one of those dust if you must people, yet I'll play in the dirt outside from dawn to dusk.
Spring can also be a time of self-discovery in reexamining our personal or professional goals.
I can tell you there is no better place than in a garden to reflect and gather your thoughts or to put things in perspective.
Think of it as gardening for your soul!
You might have found yourself recently wondering ... is my life on track?
Or you might be facing a bump in the road ... not sure if you should keep going, turn around or just stop.
I have two mottos that I attempt to live by, they are common place, you've heard them thousands of times or more, but they work for me.
and "Bloom Where You Are Planted".
I have found these both to be simple reality checks anytime my life looks like it's headed for a pothole!
"In Your Time" - Taylor Hicks
Take time to think ...
It is the source of power.
Take time to play ...
It is the secret of perpetual youth.
Take time to pray ...
It is the greatest power on earth.
Take time to love and be loved ...
It is a God given privilege.
Take time to be friendly ...
It is the road to happiness.
Take time to laugh ...
It is the music of the soul.
Take time to give ...
It is too short a day to be selfish.
Take time to work ...
It is the price of success.
Take time to do charity ...
It is the key to heaven.
The Earth is always a good teacher — and especially in Spring.
End your days this season with this prayer from the Native American tradition.
Earth teach me stillness
as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring
as the mother who secures her young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree which stands all alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant which crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach me resignation
as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep with rain.
— Ute prayer
"If nature is your teacher, your soul will awaken."
"In Your Time"
2007 Tour Edition of Taylor Hicks 1997 CD
Available for purchase through Laser's Edge
On a last note, remember this quote from Taylor?
"It's not the dirt I need to plant my musical flower"
Well a little birdie told me Spring Has Sprung in Nashville,
and I think the musical flower has found just what it needed to be rejuvenated!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Kelly Clarkston, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks
American Idol Finale 2007
photos courtesy AP and Getty Images
With all of the excited buzz generated by where Taylor Hicks is ... Nashville, and who he has been collaborating with ... Pat McLaughlin and Tom Hambridge, I thought this article on the ABC's of songwriting an interesting topic for today's blog.
(keep reading for the significance of the photos I chose to use today)
An excerpt from:
The Song As A Script
Well, just as your favorite TV and movie stars do not write their own scripts, neither do a lot of singers write their own songs.
The major difference between actors and singers however is that most actors can change characters from film to film whereas successful singers rarely depart radically from the image they have chosen.
That presents the songwriter hurdles that require investigation before rushing into pitch mode.
Not only must the song/script be in keeping with the artist’s image but a few music business executives must be persuaded to gamble a million dollars on it.
It is a script for a performer to stand on stage and have a linear, lyrical conversation with his or her audience.
Our world of entertainment is always ultimately about “The Woman.”
With rare exceptions, it is men singing to women and women singing to women.
So, the mantra for the songwriter parallels that of the restaurateur.
When looking for a restaurant to invest in, there are three factors to consider: location, location, location.
Likewise, to be a songwriter, there are three things you should consider:
What’s in it for the woman?
What’s in it for the woman?
What’s in it for the woman?
So let's focus on their perception of your song.
Aside from the work being right for the artist, is it a potential hit?
Do you get the listener involved in the song quickly?
Well, try 60 seconds, including introduction.
I call it getting the listener to invest in your song.
In order to lure the listener in, it’s better that you speak to them, not about them.
However, if the song is using the first-person pronoun (you, me, I, etc.) and the central figure is too old, too young, not cool enough or just not the image that the artist, management or label wish to project, you might consider changing to the third-person pronoun (even though the odds are higher for your song not being #1).
That way, the artist can sing the song (about being homeless a drunk perhaps) without it reflecting personally on him or her.
Next, you must create an expectation and then fulfill that expectation.
Pull out some of your favorite songs and look at the titles – pretty average stuff, mostly words or phrases you use every day.
However, those titles are the fulfillment of the created expectation.
The genius is in the creation of the expectation.
Making something commonplace eye-catching – or in the case of the song, ear catching – is your job.
I don’t know how many of you have seen an uncut diamond, but they look remarkably unremarkable, rather boring in fact.
Only in the hands of someone who has absorbed the craft and mastered the skill of making the mundane sparkle does the seemingly dull come to life.
As you've finished this last paragraph, you have probably figured out why I led today's blog with the photos of Kelly Clarkston, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks from last year's AI Finale.
I believe they are the crowning jewels that have been unearthed by American Idol that will stand the test of time, and they positively sparkle!
I have been contemplating getting back up on my soap box for a while now, and it seems today's the day!
A blog is somewhere where you can share your thoughts and usually your readers visit because they share your interests.
My blog is obviously centered around multi-talented singer, songwriter and musician Taylor Hicks.
Unlike many (writers and bloggers) who spew their opinions across the net, I don't find it necessary to degrade another artist while showing my appreciation for the talents of Taylor Hicks.
If another artist's name happens to appear here, it will be because it relates to a blog topic in a positive way, and it will be complementary.
I know that snarkiness and titillation are what draw viewers, but I refuse to use those tactics and am quite content to remain a little fish in my own pond.
I have no desire to venture into deeper waters where the sharks swim.
I wonder where all the hateful, rude and sarcastic surfers swam before the advent of message boards, chat rooms and blogs?
"If one doesn't respect oneself,
one can have neither love nor respect for others."
Today's entry began with photos from the 2007 AI Finale and a fitting ending is Taylor's skillful and unique take on "A Day In The Life" from that night!
Now that's what I call sparkle!!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
There's a line in "Soul Thing" that says,
The road can be your friend, or the devil in disguise.
To me, that sentiment rings all too true.
Read the life stories of your musical heroes and you'll see that, regardless of what vehicle they chose to get around in, the road could be heaven or hell".
"Well now they call me the breeze
I keep blowin' down the road."
Smack in the middle of a dream come true, the time had come for Taylor Hicks to start his own nationwide tour in late February of 2007.
"We began close to home in some of the beautiful old theaters and bigger clubs across the South, and it's my fervent hope that this tour doesn't really end until the day I die."
Taylor Hicks ~ 'Heart Full Of Soul'
Taylor tells us that as he stood on stage night after night singing, he experienced the stunning sensation of being smack in the middle of a dream come true.
He felt as if he was finally in exactly The Right Place, and at peace with himself in a way he had never been before.
Yesterday I was attempting to organize some of my videos from Taylor's tour, and I ran across his performance of "Call Me The Breeze" from the Innsbrook Afterhours Concert in Virginia.
I was on the road right along with Taylor back in July of 2007, though not on a tour bus :-)
What an awesome road trip that was beginning with his concert in Hagerstown, on to Innsbrook, and ending with his concert in Louden.
Thinking about my wonderful road trip, got me thinking about Taylor rolling down the roads on his cross country tour last year.
Wondering if the road had been his friend, or whether he felt a bit like a dust devil?!?
"Call Me The Breeze" has always seemed to me to be another anthem for Taylor, along with "Soul Thing", "Gonna Move", "The Long Way Home" and "The Right Place".
Listening to "Call Me The Breeze" brought to mind a beautiful poem that I recently ran across and the author graciously allowed me to reprint and share here.
I think you'll find that it really hits home!
~On The Road Again~
Well, I've been all hemmed in, but I'm ready to move on.
To set free my old shackles and croon another song.
I want to push on ahead, run freely with the wind,
to travel on a new path of light, where I've never been.
Lift up my steps with new courage, so my spirit will be free.
Brave to change the patterns of life, that have always been me.
I'll leave the past behind, for that's where it belongs.
No more will I replay over and over the memory of wrongs.
Take me where the sun shines bright, the birds woo with their call.
Mountains shelter silver skies of joy, and it is cold no more.
I want to get back on the road and travel straight ahead.
No more turning off the level track, or by my whims be led.
Lord, keep me travelling light, shed me of all traits ...
that slow the journey onward, with such heavy weights.
I would feel the sun warm on my back, soft breezes in my face.
No dark cloud to slow me down, from this steady pace.
Come on, let's ride ... come lift your head up high.
We're embarking on an adventure that will take us to the sky.
Derry's Poetry From The Heart
(used with permission ~ Thank You Derry!)
A thank you to Ragsqueen too for her Innsbrook and Philadelphia, Ms photos!
Taylor Hicks ~ "Call Me The Breeze"
Innsbrook After Hours Concert, Glen Allen, VA
video capture by:
video screencaps: by Bloom
If you have visited the link for Derry's poems you know that On The Road Again was originally written for a cowboy, interesting, we have been wondering if we will soon be seeing a stetson hiding Taylor's silver headlight!
"Wherever I Lay My Hat, that's my home"
I-65 Headed North out of Nashville
Your comments and musings are welcome,
I hope you enjoyed today's ride down memory road!
The road to success is not straight.
There is a curve called Failure,
A loop called Confusion,
Speed bumps called Friends,
Red lights called Enemies,
Caution lights called Family.
You will have flats called Jobs.
But, if you have a spare called Determination,
An engine called Perseverance,
Insurance called Faith,
And a driver called Jesus,
You will make it to a place called Success.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Spring is in the air somewhere, I know it's wishful thinking on my part that Winter has departed, but it is time to don our Easter bonnets!!
Taylor Hicks wherever you are laying your hat this Easter, I hope the sun is shining and the birds are singing ... I know you would be the grandest in any parade!
2007 ENDYMION MARDI GRAS GRAND MARSHALL TAYLOR HICKS
To all my visitors here at the 'Pond', I hope you enjoy my fun Easter page!
It's that Hippity Hoppin' Season
when the air is fresh and pleasin!
The frostiness is leavin'
and the ice no longer freezin'.
The sun is waking up the grass.
The lakes are mirrors just like glass.
Birds are winging home at last.
And Spring is sprung, the Winter's Past.
Renewal, rebirth is in the air.
Wild flowers are bloomin' everywhere.
Perfumes sweet nothing can compare,
And Spring Fevers something
we all share.
Yes, it's that hippity hoppin' season
when the wind is barely breathin'.
Whispering and breezin'
through the woods
and fields it's easin'.
Listen, hear me, come along
Rising, growing, free and strong.
Dancing, thriving, Hey!
You too belong
to this magic hour,
This Springtime Song!
These two great videos from 'Easter Parade'
will make you want to get up and dance!
"When The Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves For Alabam"
A bunny for my honey!
Loaded with soul :-)
Fred Astaire dancing and drumming in the toy store.
"For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart.
It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul."
Happy Easter from the Pond!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Fresh off his American Idol 2006 tour, Taylor Hicks had another
close encounter where fate was on his side!
Our exhausted Soul Man had decided to take a little vacation with his friends for some fun and sun, only to find himself wondering if he was going to be instead plunging into the Gulf, and not for a leisurely swim.
Not a big fan of flying to begin with, you can imagine what he was thinking when midflight the pilot announced he was going to have to work on some maneuvers over the Gulf.
"It began looking like my buddies and I should have taken the Love Boat.
I turned my head and there was Charo fingering her rosary.
Watching her, I wondered if I should be getting ready to kiss my own sweet *-* goodbye.
I also remember thinking it was a real bitch that I was going to plunge into the Gulf without getting to make my album first."
With no flaps on the plane and the pilot having to land it on one of the shortest runways in the world ... the next words coming from the cockpit were "Whoa Nelly" as the pilot slammed on the brakes.
"Those are not words you ever want to hear coming from the cockpit.
In the end, however, that wild flight wasn't my big Lynryd Skynrd-like stage exit - only a memorable bumpy ride, which at that point I'd gotten pretty used to."
Now I don't ever remember hearing this story until Taylor revealed it in 'Heart Full Of Soul', and I've since wondered if Taylor became acquainted with Charo during that harrowing flight.
He does tell us that prior to that day he wasn't familiar with her until his buddies pointed out she was the lady from Love Boat.
To most of us Charo is a household name.
She is instantly recognizable for her witty humor, loveable accent and mastery of the flamenco guitar along with her trademark statement, "Cuchi-Cuchi" which has become synonymous with fun and excitement around the world.
Envisioning an encounter between Taylor and Charo brings to mind another close encounter ... Taylor and Miss Tony Braxton, comparing the photo above and the photos below I'm sure you understand why
Getting back to Charo .... quite by coincidence today I ran across an interview she did last month and I'd like to share the part that jumped right out at me ...
“I love to travel, although I pray a lot when I fly.
I don't like having nothing under me,” Charo said.
“I hate to stay home.
Then it's ‘la cucaracha' and clean the kitchen time.”
Now what were the chances that I would happen across this particular article.
Especially since it was only last week that I was discussing this very topic with Karin.
Now here is something even more interesting ... I googled Charo to see if she is currently performing anywhere.
She is, and it's tonight at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas!
Well it certainly inspired me to tell this story here today!
I'm actually beginning to hear that do-do-do-do sound in my head, because here is another quote from Charo's interview, which is again going to remind you of Miss Braxton!
“Cuchi cuchi is my way to go to the bank.
I make money with it, but it is really an expression of freedom, victory, triumph - it means I'm happy and on top of the world."
Miss Braxton told 'People Magazine',
"I gave Taylor a Tiffany money clip.
"I told him "Taylor you're gonna make a whole lot of money."
Would that make Taylor Hicks' Soul Patrol! his expression of freedom, victory and triumph?
While I'll leave you today to ponder that question, here's a fun little video from Charo singing "Dance A Little Bit Closer".
"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor, it's to enjoy each step along the way."
Monday, March 17, 2008
People that don't follow music much assume that blues music must be pretty depressing listening.
Of course the exact opposite has always been true.
Nothing is more positive and ultimately more life-affirming than hearing a great singer work through pain and problems by singing to you straight from his or her heart.
"Singing your heart out is not about what you get paid or how many people are watching you.
Singing is about passing something on and connecting with whoever is out there in the dark watching."
Taylor Hicks ~ "Georgia"
Taylor jazzes up his legendary "Georgia" for this performance at the
Pala Casino - Palomar Theater in San Diego (May 2006)
video capture by: Azgoddess
The Blues were born on Beale Street, and it was the home to famous blues musicians such as W.C. Handy who wrote the first blues song in 1909.
Beale Street is the soul of old Memphis.
Which brings us to a fantastic blues musician that I recently ran across by the name of Bobby "Blue" Bland.
He's been around for decades, so I'm late to the party, but thanks to Taylor reviving my interest in good music, I didn't miss the party completely :-)
Bobby “Blue” Bland, is an American singer of blues and soul.
He is an original member of The Beale Streeters and is sometimes referred to as the "Lion of the Blues".
Along with such artists as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker, Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B.
Wouldn't you love to hear Taylor's take on this one, I believe it fits him to a T!
"Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City"
Bobby "Blue" Bland
Bobby Bland is a master musician with extraordinary staying power, for decades his evocative vocal style has taken the blues out of the barroom and into the bedroom.
If there was any justice, you would hear Bobby Bland on the radio at night. Especially on the car radio, when you were driving long stretches on highways that were new to you but looked familiar all the same.
Past neon cocktail glasses and buzzing vacancy signs on beat-up motels where patrons choose to park around in back and everyone is registered under some novel name.
(I could really get into a history lesson talking about the Lorraine Motel)
His is the music of desire and regret, gaudy and permanent, like a tattoo of some woman's name whose face you can hardly recall.
While Bland's singing owed something to crooners like Tony Bennett and Perry Como, the sound was rougher -- and just slightly removed.
It was, as one of his early '60s songs had it, "Two Steps From the Blues."
The cover of Bland's 1961 album "Two Steps From the Blues" is a work of art, a Mondrian (Dutch painter) in black and blue.
It's a color photograph of the singer standing in front of a one-story building at the bottom of, yes, two steps.
His pants are gray, his shirt is black.
His coat is thrown over his shoulder, Sinatra style, and dark glasses hide his eyes from the sunlight.
A fair amount of his work remains in print (the best of it captured on three double-CD packages from his day on the Duke label), he still records for the Malaco label (a sort of living Smithsonian for blues musicians) and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1977.
That's it for today's music history lesson and a perfect ending for today's blog is this awesome complilation of Taylor Hicks' blues coming out to play!
#7 Soul Injected Blues
Boogie Board Best
Taylor Hicks Tour 2006
Today's cup of karma
"No man who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives is left long without proper reward."
Booker T. Washington, American educator
May those that love us love us,
and those that don't love us ...
my God turn their hearts;
and if he doesn't turn their hearts,
may He turn their ankles ...
so we'll know them by their limping.
Happy St. Pat's from the 'Pond'