~ 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"

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Do You Like Good Music?

When Arthur Conley shouts "Do you like good music?" on "Sweet Soul Music", the resounding response is "Yeah! Yeah!"

"Soul music is gospel music for everyone - black or white, sinner or saint and it lifted me up like nothing before or since.
Soul music didn't just touch my soul; I think it awakened it for the very first time."

~ Taylor Hicks ~

video: "Sweet Soul Music" performed by Taylor Hicks
American Idol Concert on 7-7-06 Manchester, New Hampshire

The majority of major label releases, or music that you hear on the radio today, is not actually music. It is a product engineered by people in suits who sit around and discuss the best way to get money out of our pockets and into theirs. They don’t give half a hoot about the musical integrity of the “art” they commission.

When they find a trend that sticks, they milk it until there isn’t a cent left in it.
Why does every wannabe teen celebrity princess come out with an album?
Don’t you feel patronized by this?
Major labels think we are stupid and will buy what they sell because of the advertising campaign and overlook the actual music.
You are being sold a culture that you have absolutely no input in creating.
By supporting mainstream music, you are a tool in the system of the rich.
by Jemayel Khawaja

"Good people know good music when they hear it"
~ Taylor Hicks ~

"Good people" was the way in which the crowd was addressed at the Renaissance Festival I recently attended. To borrow from that era and from Taylor's quote,
"Good people I give you ... good music"

Ipod playlist:
Taylor Hicks ~ "Georgia"
Freddie Scott ~ "Hey Girl"
Ray Charles and Michael McDonald ~ "Hey Girl"
Billy Joel ~ "Hey Girl"
Billy Paul ~ "Me and Mrs. Jones"
Taylor Hicks ~ "You Are So Beautiful"

"Hey Girl" has long been a favorite of mine in case you can't tell from the number of times it appears above in my IPOD player. I'm hoping that the next great artist that records this tune will be Taylor Hicks. He has the voice, he has the passion and he definitely has the soul! You have only to listen to his renditions of "Georgia" or "You Are So Beautiful" to imagine how Taylor would make this song his own. I often wonder if Taylor knows that this was one of Ray Charles favorite songs too?

While you are kicking back and enjoying the music - here is an excerpt from an article that I think you'll find quite interesting:

Music Rediscovers Its Vintage Soul
Soul music's origins can be traced to the mid-'50s, when artists such as Ray Charles began fusing gospel and R&B. It enjoyed mainstream popularity through most of the '70s, before the rise of disco and then hip-hop. The genre faded in the '80s as R&B reflected rap's influence, being slickly produced with less live instrumentation. At the same time, major labels catered to the vast youth market, which favored a more contemporary sound.

But in recent years, several factors have helped put vintage soul back on the cultural radar: Europe's ongoing love affair with American music, the re-emergence of older stars such as Solomon Burke, Irma Thomas and Al Green, and fans looking for something they couldn't find in the mainstream.

"I thought that once the music disappeared in the '80s, it wouldn't ever come back again," Charles Walker says. "Today, it's an underground thing. It's one of those things that club DJs and college kids are really into, and they're what's making it happening."

"Whenever you have these (economic) downturns, people turn to music that is uplifting," says Panos Panay, founder of Sonicbids, an online company that connects bands with concert promoters.
"This music resonates with people. Fans are won over by the music's authenticity. People long for the human touch that's lacking in a lot of other popular music. Soul has a familiarity to it, but it's something that hasn't been exploited a lot in recent years."

It's a struggle for soul performers to get airplay when more commercial acts fill that niche, says Sean Ross, vice president of music and programming for Edison Media Research. "If you look at the urban AC chart, there are songs with a retro feel — Noel Gourdin's The River or Alicia Keys' Teenage Love Affair," Ross says. "They have some contemporary element to go with the classic feel.
Sharon Jones and Ryan Shaw take it a step further, and they're harder for radio to relate to."

But Panay points out that the definition of what's mainstream is changing. Airplay and MTV are no longer the only measures of success.
He says nearly 10% of the 160,000 bands registered with Sonicbids are soul and R&B bands. That's 20 times more than he saw a year ago. The Internet, with its multitude of bloggers and music services, and specialty retailers such as Starbucks also are driving consumption. "The curators of music today are very different from who they were just 10 years ago," Panay says. "People are discovering music in all different ways."

And not all the ways are new. At Daptone Records — home to Jones and other soul acts — recordings are made using analog equipment, and they've got a strong market for vinyl LPs and 45s. "When people get a Daptone record, they know it's going to be raw and soulful," says label co-founder and Dap-Kings bassist Gabriel Roth.

It's difficult to predict whether soul will continue growing in popularity, Charles McEnerney, producer and host of the podcast Well-Rounded Radio, says - but there's potential for greater breakthroughs.
"It wouldn't take much for any of those bands to have a fluke hit on commercial radio and interest a major label," he says. "But the desire to be on a major label now is about 'Will it get me into Wal-Mart or Target?' And the trade-off is having someone telling you how to do your music."

The bands find their best strategy is connecting directly with fans.
Playing at rock venues, "we get a lot of kids in their 20s," says Eli Reed. Sharon Jones says she has been surprised at times by the wide range of acceptance. "I was totally shocked when they had us at (Telluride) Bluegrass Festival," Jones says. "These people were a bunch of hippies into blues and rock. But once people hear us, they are into it."
excerpt from USA TODAY
By Steve Jones

Lots of info to ponder - follow the underlined links to read more and to discover or rediscover some great artists!


Today's cup:
"I don't think you could tag a certain year as the date that soul music appeared, because it didn't happen that way. It evolved over a period of time. Even today, you could ask five different people what it was and how it got started and get five different answers....

Originally, soul music had a strong element of the church, of spiritual music. It had a gospel music feeling, and then it incorporated the sound of blues music. That's soul's makeup: the fusion of gospel and blues, all mixed up together. It's the crossover of those forms of music that makes soul unique....

At first I got some criticism for playing soul music. Women sent me letters, accused me of being sacrilegious because they could pick out that gospel music was being incorporated into something that went beyond the sound they heard in church every week. They didn't realize at first how spiritual soul music could be....

And there were people who objected to soul being played on the radio because of the depth of feeling in the music. Some people thought it was too suggestive, and some thought it was just plain vulgar. But the feeling that comes through in the music --that's the essence of soul -- the word itself tells you that.
~ Ray Charles ~

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Taylor and The Beatles

This past week, Canadian Idol honoured the music of The Beatles for the first time on their show. No, this is not a blog about Canadian Idol and yes, I am still watching it because I want to know how it ends. It is rather strange sometimes how one thought leads to another thought and when you finally stop, you wonder how did I get here from there?

In a previous blog about Taylor Hicks' self-penned song, "Somehow", I mentioned that songwriters should be recognized as well as appreciated for their unique talent in putting words, thoughts and music together. Hopefully the end result is a song that is meaningful to others and a Top Ten Hit. The Beatles are definitely no exception when it comes to "creating memories" with their everlasting legacy to the world of music.

Whether you are a baby boomer or you are a child of a baby boomer, you have listened to the incredible music of The Beatles. Surely, everyone has heard about their North American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show back in the '60s.

video: Canadian Idol's Tribute to The Beatles

From Wikpedia:

"The Beatles are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music, selling over a billion records internationally. In the United Kingdom, The Beatles released more than 40 different singles, albums, and EPs that reached number one, earning more number one albums than any other group in UK chart history. This commercial success was repeated in many other countries; their record company, EMI, estimated that by 1985 they had sold over one billion records worldwide.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, The Beatles have sold more albums in the United States than any other band. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked The Beatles number one on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. According to that same magazine, The Beatles' innovative music and cultural impact helped define the 1960s, and their influence on pop culture is still evident today."

"For accessibility and quality,
it remains impossible to beat The Beatles."

~ Taylor Hicks - 'Heart Full of Soul' ~

Moving from one thought to the next, I remembered that Taylor has also performed music by The Beatles. The first stop down "Memory Lane" is the fabulous performance by Taylor of "Something" which captured many hearts and more importantly, many well deserved votes. We were also introduced to the colour "purple" with this song - a colour that for some reason seems to be often associated with Taylor.

Video: Taylor Hicks "Something"

Thanks, AliceinTaylorland!

On the subsequent AI Tour in 2006, when Taylor brought out the red guitar, the crowds went wild. The audience knew that they were going to hear Taylor's rendition of "Don't Let Me Down". I do enjoy the music of The Beatles but when I watched this performance, it was as if I was hearing the song for the very first time. Taylor gave us a "WOW" moment with this one!

video: Taylor Hicks "Don't Let Me Down"
Thanks, mmmeverclear!

A year later on his solo tour, Taylor Hicks continued to sing his way into the hearts of audiences with his version of "Here Comes The Sun".

video: Taylor Hicks "Here Comes The Sun"

Thanks, elaine1154!

As my feet gently touch the cobblestone of 2008 along this pathway of thoughts, I am reminded of the excitement that was generated in April of this year when it was announced that Taylor would be appearing in "A Tribute to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" at the Wolf Trap Centre, Washington, D.C. One can only surmise that since Taylor has always enjoyed and admired the genius of The Beatles' music that he would definitely have wanted this page in his book of memories.

This weekend in Washington was a date that many had circled on their calendars. Unfortunately, schedules change and Taylor was not able to participate in this "Tribute" due to his commitment to Grease on Broadway. While many were disappointed, I suspect that many others were elated that Bo Bice stepped into Taylor's role at Wolf Trap.

In the spirit of the significance of this weekend's previously anticipated performance, finally we come to my last thought. A salute to Sgt. Pepper with a sprinkle of Taylor Hicks!

video: American Idol's Tribute to St. Pepper -
Season 6 Grand Finale

Thanks, VeGaS1004!


Today's Cup:

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons.
You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes~

Monday, August 18, 2008

Taylor Hicks A Tall Cool Drink

Dog days of Summer getting you down?
Feeling tired and cranky?
In need of a pick-me-up?
How about a Big sip of a Tall cool drink?

I have just the thing, a little cool Jazz and a lot of hot harp from Taylor Hicks!

video: "Tall Cool Drink" by Lisa Koch
"Soul Thing" by Taylor Hicks

Now, don't you feel better?

Today's cup:
I'm thinking you'd prefer it iced :-)
One iced Karma coffee coming right up!

Taylor's self-penned "Soul Thing" available on
Taylor Hicks "Early Works"!
A compilation of 12 tracks from his two independent albums prior to
winning American Idol in 2006!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Simply The Best


I am long overdue in officially welcoming KarinP on board as a blog author here at The Pond.

Karin, I really wanted to to do something for your Birthday that was beautiful or at least clever, but as I wasn't clever enough to even realize I missed your birthday, this is the best way I could think of to celebrate your Birthday!

Plus it gave me a perfect opportunity to say thank you for your friendship, thank you for your endless support, and to thank you for all of the wonderful videos you have given us of Taylor.

YOU are "Simply The Best" and I don't know if you remember this or not, but this is a video you made for your friends at The Official Soul Patrol way back in November of 2006.

The "Groove Moment" is on this one!

video: Taylor Hicks Is "Simply The Best"

And so MY Friend are YOU!

Audio: Taylor Hicks self-penned "My Friend" is available on his newly released "Early Works".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What's Next?

Could any of us have ever imagined that one man and his music could have held the key to bringing so many new and exciting changes to our lives?

Taylor Hicks was an inspiration for many of us to take that flying leap and step out of our respective boxes. To learn new skills as we made our way around the Internet, travel to places we'd never been before, pursue dreams that we had thought impossible, and especially for us to put ourselves out there and make new friends. Friendships that I expect shall last our lifetimes.

His music spoke to us and as we got to know his heart, we gave him a special place in ours. We willingly boarded the Taylor Hicks' train yet sometimes we got impatient when the train wasn't travelling at full throttle, or went to places we didn't expect to find on it's schedule, changed direction or was delayed.

Sometimes we forget that this is Taylor Hicks' life and career and they are his choices and decisions to make, not ours. Sometimes we need to just step back and realize it is our own selfish needs that causes the impatience and fretting that occurs when the train is delayed, changes direction or the schedule isn't posted timely.

I've learned to just plain be thankful for the gifts Taylor has already given us, I know there are many more coming and they are worth waiting for. In the meantime I'll do my best to share those gifts with as many people as possible, any way I can.

The title of this blog 'What's Next' is not about me wondering what Taylor Hicks will be doing next, but has to do with an article that appeared this past weekend in the New York Post about what's on Taylor Hicks' bookshelves.
If you missed the article, you'll find the link posted below, but now that I've gotten off my soap box, I'd like to share with you something that has recently made it into my library.

I stumbled across a series of books for and about women on my visit to the bookstore earlier this week. The title of one of the books 'Late Bloomers', caught my eye and I began thumbing through it. It looked interesting, what I would call a beach read, a good book to simply kick back and enjoy. It is and I did!

The series of books is called 'What's Next' and is a line of entertaining novels about women looking for what's next in their lives. These novels are about rediscovery and reconnection. They are warm, compelling and entertaining stories that are relevant for every woman who has ever wondered, "What's next?"
After all, there's the life you planned. And there's what comes next.

Now if books really aren't your thing, and the only book you can recall having read cover to cover is Taylor Hicks' Inspirational Memoir 'Heart Full of Soul', maybe a few key words that pop up in 'Late Bloomers' will entice you to give it a read. You'll find Ray Charles, Huntsville and Hoover, Alabama woven into this heart-warming story about two friends.
You can find 'Late Bloomers' by Peggy Webb on line @ TheNextNovel.com

Here is the link to the New York Post article
'In My Library - Taylor Hicks'

I think I've figured out why this particular photo of Taylor was used for the article. I believe it is because one of Taylor's book choices was 'Texasville' by Larry McMurtry. I haven't read 'Texasville', but I did read his 'Lonesome Dove'. For anyone who is not a BIG reader, I don't suggest you add McMurtry to your list of must reads, but I hope you'll check out the 'What's Next' series, because "Every Life Has More Than One Chapter".

My life has been all about believing in what lies
just around the corner. After winning American Idol and recording my first commercial album, it still feels like
the best is yet to come."
Taylor Hicks ~ 'Heart Full Of Soul'

Friday, August 8, 2008

Desperately Seeking Soul

Taylor Hicks ~ "Run Baby Run"
Dream Series Canvas

You know how it is when you get a song stuck in your head and it just keeps replaying over and over ... well that is what happened to me after I added Taylor's "Run Baby Run" to the new video IPOD player here at the Pond.

She was born in November 1963
The day that Aldous Huxley died
And her mama believed
That every man could be free
So her mama got high, high, high
And her daddy marched on Birmingham
Singing mighty protest songs
And he pictured all the places
Where he knew that she'd belong
But he failed and taught her young
The only thing she'd need to carry on
He taught her how to

Run baby run baby run baby run
Baby run

I'm sure the fact that I kept playing the video again and again had 'something' to do with the vision of Taylor Hicks singing "Run Baby Run" in Joliet firmly embedded in my mind. And what a wonderful vision it is!

It inspired me to create the new Taylor Hicks Dream Canvas above, and to send me on a hunt to determine what the lyrics of the song meant.

From The Sheryl Crow Post:
Augustine: Sheryl, I was wondering what is the meaning of "Run Baby Run" on the Tuesday Night album? I love that song I can't get it out of my mind.

SHERYL CROW: The meaning of it was really about a person who was sort of caught in between generations. She was raised by hippies in a time of real conservative social structure. I wrote that song with a couple of friends of mine the night the election results came in, when we were watching the government change from conservative George Bush to young, unconventional, good-looking Bill Clinton. That was a large influence on the song.

Past the arms of the familiar
And their talk of better days
To the comfort of the strangers
Slipping out before they say
So long
Baby loves to run

She counts out all her money
In the taxi on the way to meet her plane
Stares hopeful out the window
At the workers fighting
Through the pouring rain
Shes searching through the stations
For an unfamiliar song
And shes pictures all the places
Where she knows she still belongs
And she smiles the secret smile
Because she knows exactly how
To carry on

So run baby run baby run baby run
Baby run

From the old familiar faces and
Their old familiar ways
To the comfort of the strangers
Slipping out before they say
So long
Baby loves to run

To my knowledge Taylor only sang "Run Baby Run" at two of his concerts, but it's as if he was born to sing this song. Sheryl may have penned the lyrics, but it is the voice of Taylor Hicks that brings the passion to the words.

photo caption: Taylor Hicks "Run Baby Run" from his Joliet concert

Boy what I wouldn't give to turn back the calendar to 2007 and get to relive all over again that 'special' feeling that comes over you when experiencing Taylor Hicks live. That feeling that all is right with your world!

Well, this past weekend I succeeded in turning back the calendar, but my time travel agent was off by 40 years and I ended up traveling back to 1967, a time of war protest songs, flower power, love and peace. I ended up in the 'era' of the lyrics for "Run Baby Run". Close but no cigar!

I ended up smack dab in the middle of Hippiefest instead. LOL, what a trip!
I'm a Motown gal and this was a whole different vibe for me, straight out of the Haight-Ashbury scene. Think die-dye clothing, flowers in the hair, peace signs and a smoke scented haze drifting in the air.

So my quest wasn't fulfilled, I'm still desperately seeking, and
since a trip to New York to see Taylor on Broadway isn't in the cards or my bank account ... what's a girl to do?

Save, Save, Save ... to be ready for my Soul Revival ... and think twice before doing any more time travel!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Somehow" by Taylor Hicks Is On My Mind

~ Thank you, Allyn ~

It is another Sunday afternoon and I have been asked to rescue my daughter from her computer problems. Armed with my Dummies Book, my favourite personally mixed CD, a large Tim Horton's coffee and, of course, a box of Timbits for the kids, I head out the door. My journey to the Telephone City is always a pleasurable drive.

As usual, the question arises as I approach the highway, "which way will I drive there today?". My mood is mellow and I decide to take the secondary highway where I can enjoy the scenery with no sub-divisions in sight. Trees, farmers' fields with rolled bales of hay, cows and horses enjoying the pastures on this lazy August afternoon are the things that I need to see so that I can "think".

The "slow" lane is my road of choice this afternoon. I am not alone on this ride though. Taylor Hicks, Michael Bublé, Jon Bon Jovi, The Eagles and Johnny Reid came along for the ride too. In my mind, I know that their music will inspire my thought process.

I see a Monarch butterfly flutter across the road in front of me and I take this as a sign that this is going to be another one of those rides. You know - it is a ride that will have me pondering my thoughts as I have done a few times here at The Pond. (So Different and Yet and The Saga Continues from earlier this year.)

My thoughts travel to Taylor Hicks and his "soon to be released" Early Works CD. I become focused on one of my favourite songs, "Somehow" which was originally recorded in 1997 on Taylor's independently recorded CD, 'In Your Time'.

My ears suddenly pick up the words softly being sung by Jon Bon Jovi:

You wanna make a memory?
You wanna steal a piece of time?
You can sing the melody to me
And I could write a couple of lines
You wanna make a memory?

My mind is flooded with thoughts. I think about the words written in my blog last week about Canadian Idol and how difficult it must be for the contestants on these types of reality shows to put themselves out there to be judged by millions of viewers.

Suddenly, I realize that not only is it difficult to courageously accept the criticism by those who judge performances on reality shows, but imagine writing your innermost thoughts down on a piece of paper or even a serviette, and recording a song that has been written with such personal thoughts which will eventually be judged by the world.

The songwriters, in essence, are "making a memory" which will become a part of the music world and hopefully, will find its place in the halls of music history. For me, it is a very astounding thought and I wonder if they think about that as they "pen" the words which will be eventually recorded?

The songwriter shares with the world, the pain and joy of good times and bad times. The gifted who are blessed with the ability to put their own words to music and then perform/record the song are ultimately judged by the success of the recording.

The songwriter willingly lifts the veil and invites us to feel his or her personal vulnerabilities. How many of us are willing to expose ourselves to those who are close to us or to people we will never know? Pride, understandably, often takes priority and we, as human beings, often do not want anyone to see our weaknesses or our emotional reactions to significant events in our personal lives.

Barry Manilow ~ "I Write The Songs"

The songs of the songwriters will touch the hearts of so many people in this world and hopefully, often help those, who are suffering an "ache in their hearts", to realize that they do not walk alone down the highway we call "Life".

My mind now goes back to Taylor Hicks and how he has written songs which reveal his innermost thoughts, willingly sharing the disappointments experienced when these songs were written. I turn the pages in his book, 'Heart Full of Soul' to see if there was any information about how he happened to write the song, "Somehow". The only reference I could find was that it was recorded back in 1997 after he left the band Passing Through.

With high hopes and costs of $4,500, Taylor chose to record 'In Your Time' and, unfortunately, he realized that "breaking into the music industry wouldn't be simple".

As I listen to "Somehow", I am intrigued by the depth of emotion expressed in this song. I am amazed that he, at such a young age, vividly describes the struggles faced by an aspiring musician. Was he singing about his own trials and tribulations? Personally, I think so.

Thanks to rugratnat14 for creating this video montage.

There's too many things
left to be unsaid
some live in a dark hole
sometimes in my head

but I'm all right
I'll get by

you want to feel their emotion
sometimes even hold their hand
but they're giving nothing in return
to suit their own demands

but I'm tired
and I'll get by

look at the people around you
stabbing at your heart
but you still smile in kindness
for not knowing who they are

and their stories have ended
and they've lit up the town
and it's time to go home
as they go and lay their bodies back down

you want to feel their emotion
sometimes even hold their hand
but they're giving nothing in return
to suit their own demands

but I'm tired
and I'll get by.

Taylor Hicks has travelled many miles over the years since writing this song. He has gotten by and only in the past few years, has he finally been able to make his mark in the music industry and on the Broadway stage. It has taken perseverance, determination and his love of music to get him to "where" he is going.

There will always be trials and tribulations for any entertainer in the world of music but these artists continue to reach out and touch those who are willing to listen to their music. While a glamourous life may be what most people perceive, we should remember that it has taken years of hard work and sacrifice for most of them to become successful in their craft. They hope that their music will stand the test of time.

In a recent interview with Derek Keeling (new Danny in Grease), which was written by Tom Nondorf, of Playbill News, Derek's response to this question further illustrates my point about it often taking years for artists and actors to gain recognition.

"Q: Taylor Hicks is currently Grease's Teen Angel.
Have you had a chance to talk with him?

Keeling: Yes, he's a really cool, down-to-earth guy.
He kind of got here in the same way, though on a bigger scale, that I did.
He knows what it is like.
One of the things that has happened with a lot of us (from reality shows) is people see you on a TV show and think that's the first thing you did, when a lot of us had been working in the business for awhile.
I got my first professional job ten years ago.
Taylor said the same thing.
He said he'd been on the road for about 15 years at the point of "American Idol", going around as a musician.
He said, "I worked 15 years to establish myself, and now I've been working the last couple years to re-establish myself."
I really understood what he was saying because I've had people come up to me and say, "Hey, welcome to the business. Welcome to New York."
And I say, "I've been here for awhile, but thanks!"

What would your life be like if there was no music in it?
As the old saying goes, "different strokes for different folks".
It is impossible for everyone to enjoy the same type of music or artists and this leads me to another thought.

While all of us may never agree on who is the best performer or which is the best genre of music, I wonder why we can't respect the choices of others? Why can't we respect that each artist has faced many closed doors and struggles while they try to climb the ladder of success? Is it simply human nature to be very close-minded, think we are always right and quickly criticize others for their choices?

Personally, I think that "Somehow" is one of the best songs that Taylor has ever written and I am so happy that it has been included on his 'Early Works' CD which is being released on August 12th along with other wonderful and insightful music that Taylor has written and recorded.

"If you believe in yourself, anything that comes your way - good, bad, or really ugly - can't knock you too far off track. Believing in yourself is the thing - sometimes the only thing - that will carry you through any situation."
Taylor Hicks ~ 'Heart Full of Soul'

I am anxious to hear your thoughts about "Somehow".
Until the next time that I have more "musings in the car",
enjoy the music and let it touch your soul.

Today's cup:


"Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling,
and instinct, not by rule."
~ Samuel Butler ~