Taylor Hicks: the Most Maligned Celebrity Ever?

January 27, 2009

Taylor Hicks, is he the most maligned celebrity ever? Do bloggers and media types have it in for him? Wait, when is the last time he’s hit a printed magazine? People and their bachelor issue was a while back. My Darling Man works for a company that specializes in Time magazine as well as a few entertainment magazines. To date, I haven’t seen Hicks maligned or even for that matter, included in anything I’ve read in printed media for a long while. So my first thought on reading this obviously heartfelt statement, ‘most maligned celebrity ever’ was – please are you serious?

The writer is one of IDOL BLUES regulars, she had much to say including, “Everyone seems to know just exactly what Taylor should be doing to achieve success. Everyone seems to have something to criticize. Sometimes I think he is the most maligned celebrity ever.”

Now I’m not sure who ‘everyone’ is, like I said, haven’t really read that much about him lately with the exception of on-line blogs and the occasional morning program. That said, most of the press he’s been doing of late, has been positive and promotional. Media talking heads have been very kind to him on the morning talk shows. They’ve all asked him the same questions over and over again and he’s replied with the same answers. All has been very tame, sometimes fun and rather peachy. I’ve seen no maligning.

“People post on blogs, people who don’t know Taylor from Adam, yet they seem to know what he ‘means’, what he’s trying say, what he wants. Does anyone have any faith that maybe the man has a method to his madness? That perhaps he knows things we don’t about his choices, that he may have a different career path than the one we would like to foist on him? Taylor seems to be a very intelligent man.”

In that statement, the poster is doing that very thing she’s arguing against. She’s imagining what he’s thinking and that he knows what he’s doing and knows he just has to have a Mensa IQ going on. I read that on many of the only-positive-words-allowed blogs out in internet land.

This poster added, “I say ‘Keep the Faith’. It’s his career. All we can do is support him. If you can’t, then maybe you should just let him get on with it. This is simply meant as my opinion. I’m not a hater, or anything like that. I read your blog daily, and mostly enjoy it. I just wonder what Taylor feels when there seems to be so much second guessing of his decisions.”

While I appreciate her being a Taylor Hicks’ fan. I do have to disagree on several points.

“Keep the Faith” for one. Who says I have lost or never had faith? This blog has his name in it, right? I haven’t bean-canned it yet now have I? Regarding it’s his career, Amen on that, I have no monetary vested concerns in what he does.

Regarding support the guy, it’s what I have done since January of 2006. Certainly I’m not throwing glitter in the air or spamming other sites with Billy Mays impressions. Too, I’m not always knocked out by everything he has done career wise or musically. I don’t think he’s the hottest man to grace this Earth either. My questioning actions he may do, is in no way standing in the man’s way – so I don’t understand the ‘let him get on with it’ phrase I read so often. I say, get on with it Mr. Hicks, go for it, but hey, I have a brain, albeit perhaps not Mensa IQ caliber and I sometimes I just wonder what the Hell is going on.

Questioning a celeb or star or politician for that matter, is not a bad thing. We’re not in George Orwell’s nightmare – yet – being a person in the public limelight does not give you absolution from the curious on-lookers. In fact often it’s controversy that draws people’s interest about someone, that’s a fact proven through many aspects of our media. Hicks is not unfamiliar with this concept.

In my blog post I’m not assuming Mr. Hicks is ‘saying’ any damn thing, nor ‘thinking’ any damn thing. I’m writing my observations. My questions remain unanswered in the original post: His band – what’s up with that? Most musicians have a regular band they perform and record with – his approach – appearing on the talk shows with guys separate from what’s on the disc, what does that say? Anyone have a theory? All I read is “Leave Taylor Alone!” Makes me think of Chris Crocker, insert Taylor Hicks. No one addressed the topic over whether he’s really in this game for the music or is he just chasing Fame either.

I thank the large group that hits me daily, who hit me from where you really live, as well as all you guys wearing out ‘hidemyass’ and Reston, VA. I thank the few friendly souls who post to the blog on occasion. I am pleased everyday when I see so much interest in Mr. Hicks. It may come as a surprise to many of you but I feel good about the number of folks who stop by on a regular basis – it’s very encouraging to me regarding his chances for the success that he desires, on whatever level that may be. You see dear poster, and you readers, I’m not a ‘hater’ either.

Speaking of, Taylor Hicks single is now on the market on iTunes. Click on the link to purchase “What’s Right is Right”. You can click Taylor Hicks’ myspace to add your positive praise about this latest offering.

An Entertainer introduces a Musical legend:
“Little Girl Blue” Janis Joplin on the Tom Jones Show

great video by Rhinoannon


Taylor Hicks, The Return of The Dead

January 26, 2009

Taylor Hicks is sometimes referred to by those critics trying to be clever, as the Idol that shouldn’t have won. Now while his ardent fans may differ with this, we find him at a point in his career trying to make a comeback of sorts. Granted his brush with fame has been limited to his cult like following and the win off that reality show, but he was pretty much a household name for at least a short while in 2006. Mr. Hicks has a dream to be more than that 2006 reality show winner.

Taylor Hicks, hasn’t been granted much in the way of respect as a viable musician in today’s music scene. Writers when talking about Idol past and present, often refer to him as an after thought or joke. This in comparison to Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry or Carrie Underwood, never comparisons to musicians outside the Idol franchise. While his post-Idol CD nabbed him ‘platinum selling’ status, Hicks did not impress the majority of music critics. Much of the negativity following Hicks was the post-Idol CD itself. For many fans of whom he captured attention of, from his time on the show, that record was not exactly what they expected, myself included. I’m not saying it was bad, just not what I expected.

Hicks has some new tunes coming out soon on his album, “The Distance”. What is striking about this new body of work is the caliber of support that Taylor Hicks has somehow amassed to aid in the success of this album. He has famed producer Simon Climie as a consultant and a back up of musicians who have worked with Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. If Hicks can’t wring some positive praise and accolades out of this new album, I just don’t see it ever coming for him. I do retain high hopes.

From reports I’ve recently read, Hicks not alone in his quest for that one more chance grab at the brass ring. Several other artists who had, in the past far surpassed anything Taylor’s done to date, are trying to step it up and do it again. This next year we should see Eminem, No Doubt and Natalie Imbruglia returning with new music. One of the most exciting, for me, The Grateful Dead.I never thought I’d see the Dead return after the death of beloved Jerry Garcia. They have modified their name to just The Dead but are getting back on the road for a 20 gig tour. I guess I’ll be dragging out my tie-dyed Dead shirts: Long live The Dead, RIP Jerry Garcia.

Exciting news reverberates around the band’s line up – we’ll see original Dead members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, but they’ll be joined by keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and – here’s an exciting part- Allman Brothers Band/Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes! Oh yeah baby! All venues will be indoor arenas except the one near San Francisco. Be still my heart – they’ll be performing at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA, May 10!

One thing that The Grateful Dead was known for – okay there were many things – they were a band that toured relentlessly and encouraged their fans, the “Dead Heads”, to tape and share their exploratory and always jamming free-flowing concerts. This was a Grammy-winning Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band – yet even from the beginning – were never a media squelching group. They understood the value of letting the fans celebrate them, share experiences. On tour, in concert, the band allowed and encouraged fans to record, to film and to then share live bootlegs of their concerts.

The Grateful Dead formed in San Francisco’s electric Haight-Ashbury neighborhood (how I love that area) in the mid-’60s. The Dead’s sound a combination of bluegrass, country, electric rock and jazz. They never gave their sound a name or a brand, they just went with it. How The Grateful Dead managed to create one of the most iconic repertoires in rock music was through continuous touring, never relying on radio hits or latest trends, never penning tunes with a goal to enter into the mainstream.

I point out the Grateful Dead’s history to show some of the Taylor Hicks’ fans who are fighting about whether to film, to record him on tour that there are two sides to each coin. Of course, with word from Hicks to the fans, he does not want filming or recording of his live concerts, that says how he feels about having his show out on view for those not ticket-paying fans. Many times I have read Mr. Hicks say how he’d like a fan mass like the Parrot Heads. This will never happen with the socio-environment currently established within Hicks’ inner circle, nor the often times combative on-line fans who like to think in antiquated terms such as ‘hierarchy’ and ‘proper ways to conduct oneself in his name’ (yeah, send me a telegram) in the fan base.

The ‘secrecy’ with which much of Hicks’ music and activities are currently handled could very well work to the opposite of what the man claims he wants as fans and career. He’s said he wants a following like the Parrot Heads, like the Dead Heads, but he doesn’t handle his fans the way say, Jimmy Buffet nor Bob Weir handle their fans. Too, I’m struggling with what kind of fans Mr. Hicks really wants. Is he really in it for the music, or does he prefer more of a “Tom Jones” type fan base? On this album coming out he works with different musicians than he has in the past. Since this album’s creation he’s not been really talking about his ‘band’ or if he has a regular ‘band’. Sure there are guys he plays with more than others, but are they actually The Taylor Hicks Band? If so why were they not on the album? Is he just in it for himself, for what he, as Taylor Hicks, can gain from fame or is he wanting to really make a statement in music?

Taylor Hicks’ said to a fan, after a show recently, “I know what the fans want before they know themselves.” But does he? Importantly does he really know what he wants for himself?

“The Wheel/(at 2:19)Touch of Grey” The Dead, Obama Mid-Atlantic Inaugural Ball, January 20, 2009 One thing, Obama has great taste in music.

Grateful Dead perform Uncle John’s Band as the encore for the famed Halloween show at Radio City Music Hall in NY, NY. 10-31-80

To catch The Dead: 2009 ARENA TOUR DATES

Sun 4/12 Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
Tue 4/14 Washington, DC Verizon Center
Wed 4/15 Charlottesville, VA John Paul Jones Arena
Fri 4/17 Albany, NY Times Union Center
Sat 4/18 Worcester, MA DCU Center
Sun 4/19 Worcester, MA DCU Center
Tue 4/21 Buffalo, NY HSBC Arena
Wed 4/22 Wilkes-Barre, PA Wachovia Arena @ Casey Plaza
Fri 4/24 Uniondale, NY Nassau Coliseum
Sat 4/25 New York, NY Madison Square Garden
Sun 4/26 Hartford, CT XL Center
Tue 4/28 E. Rutherford, NJ IZOD Center
Wed 4/29 E. Rutherford, NJ IZOD Center
Fri 5/1 Philadelphia, PA Wachovia Spectrum
Sat 5/2 Philadelphia, PA Wachovia Spectrum
Tue 5/5 Chicago, IL All State Arena
Thu 5/7 Denver, CO Pepsi Center
Sat 5/9 Los Angeles, CA The Forum
Sun 5/10 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheater
(yes that was another long-assed post)


Crisscrossing 15 Minutes of Irony

January 25, 2009

Isn’t it Ironic? Don’t you think? I should add for the delicate souls out there – no uplifting information on Taylor Hicks, rather simply a cursory fan observation. I do enjoy finding bits of irony in the world.

15minsoffame1 Says:
January 22, 2009 at 5:08 PM (click her name, takes you to crisscrossing the great fan divide blog.)

“taylorarehot,

Same with itsallgrey. Every blog she writes, she takes a swing at someone or a group of people. But if you call her on it she
deletes the comment. Kind of like DAH. She just maybe looking for her 15 minutes of fame as well. That’s if she continues to be nasty towards people. She seems to get worse as each day goes by.”

Written by none other than cyberstalker, 15 Minutes, whose blog is nothing but personal attacks. What I was interested in, check the list of “who” hanging at that crisscross blog. Surprised?

These folks are really entertaining.


Taylor Hicks Video, My Favorite Photo

January 24, 2009


“The Beauty of Gray” Live

“This is not a black and white world
To be alive
I say the colors must swirl
And I believe
That maybe today
We will all get to appreciate

The beauty of gray”


Taylor Tries Another Nineteen

January 22, 2009

Taylor Hicks previews another song off of his album, “The Distance”, due to hit the buyer’s market in March. You can give the tune a listen on Rocket Science.com. Scroll down to the music box and hit “Nineteen”.

I’m thinking this “Nineteen” should do much more for him than 19E ever could. Certainly I’m holding some optimistic thoughts.


Stiff Talks to Hicks: Word From the Road, on Repeat

January 21, 2009

Interview in Cinci passed on to me by a fan. I was not able to keep up on-line today – grateful for the assistance. (Thank you anonymous one…)

Taylor Hicks gives a decent interview – Considering what he has to interact with. Can’t we hear something else? Are all the tour interviews gonna sound the same?

“Shut Up” Black-eyed Peas

Hahaha!


Taylor Hicks, Can Your Fans Go The Distance?

January 20, 2009

Taylor Hicks’ new CD, “The Distance”, is available for advance purchase. It is currently not set to drop until March 10th. Unfortunately for the CD, no previews on songs included on the disc, posted for review. Up until tracks are up, the only consumers who will be buying this CD in advance are the ardent fans who would buy anything Taylor Hicks puts out. Now before you jump to the conclusion I’m about to trek South and talk dirt about Mr. Hicks, give me a moment or twenty, this is a lengthy post.
ETA the single has hit public: Click here to listen

Positive, spin, I read he now has his designated single, What’s Right is Right, streaming on his pay fansite, Taylor Hicks Headquarters. I think this a great idea, considering this particular site has a rather negative reputation with not putting out much news or new information about Mr. Hicks. Since this is the Taylor Hicks’ fan base, reviews so far are not all rainbows and kittens. To be sure, this current fan base is an unique grab bag of folks. A real potpourri regarding musical tastes, musical education, religious affiliations and artistic appreciations. You can’t please all the people all of the time, and even though there are many who will disagree with me, many of those fans on-line who have the reputation for being the most critical of the guy are in reality some of his biggest fans. They’re honest, they’re opinionated, they know music, and they have high expectations for the man.

Taking a page from history being created today, this one of the most memorable days for this country – that guy being sworn in today as President of the United States, Barack Obama, (I know this is a reach, folks) say his Grandmother, his Mother, he himself, did not set high expectations, would he be where he is today? Absolutely not. (Can I create a longer run-on sentence? Where is my editor?)

To be fair I’ve only heard the snippet of this single as available on amazon.com. It would not be fair of me to work out any real evaluation of this tune – I’ve not heard it in its entirety. From what I’ve read lyrically, it reads similar to perhaps a Lionel Ritchie type “Say You Say Me” song.

“What’s Right is Right”

When there’s sadness in your eyes I see it
You can’t hide what’s weighing on your mind
When there’s trouble in your life I feel it
What’s wrong with you is wrong with me
What’s right is right

When there’s joy inside your heart I’ll share it
When you got a dream I say reach for the sky
If you ever fall I’ll catch you
What’s wrong with you is wrong with me
What’s right is right”

Lionel’s
“Say You Say Me”
As we go down life’s lonesome highway
Seems the hardest thing to do is to find a friend or two
A helping hand – some one who understands
That when you feel you’ve lost your way
You’ve got some one there to say Ill show you

So you think you know the answers – oh no
‘Cause the whole world has got you dancing
That’s right – I’m telling you
Its time to start believing – oh yes
Believing who you are: you are a shining star”

Certainly anyone who has listened to the radio or even followed music in any form over the past couple of decades is familiar with how successful Lionel Ritchie has been in his career. Are all his songs lyrically deep? Do they convey world shattering poetry or meanings? No. Are they mentally memorable, well sung and catchy? Yes, most are. I’m bringing up Ritchie not just because he’s a successful artist from Hicks’ home state, but because the styling of that song put me in mind of the guy. Surely Mr. Hicks is hoping for radio play. Getting a song out that is radio friendly formulaic is the key to breaching that marketplace.

Taylor Hicks has created this new album under his company he’s named, “Modern Whomp” That phrase in itself has created some buzz within the on-line fan base, some good, some indifferent. Nothing real positive so far because I don’t think most folks are of an understanding of what he’s talking about with those words. I could be wrong, but listening to his CD, “Under the Radar” lends some insight to that moniker. That little independent creation carries a meld of pop, blues, soul, a little zydeco, some Spanish guitar, a touch of country (steel guitars), as well as some haunting jazz elements. I believe this is what Mr. Hicks intends when he describes Modern Whomp, that type of sound.

I am a fan of that independent record, one of my favorite tracks on that disc, “West Texas Sky”. I love the musical score, his vocal treatments as well as the lyrics. It’s a piece that eloquently lays out soul and yearning, a life’s journey, the past with hope for the future.
“So you’re drivin’ away these miles
So far away from your southern home
Takin’ your charms and dreams to the Golden State
Make your way, seal your fate…”

His tune, “The Deal” a more soul driven love song. Click to hear. The lyrics are very well put together and paint a distinct love story. Sample:
“I’ve given you the best I’ve got to offer
‘Cause there ain’t no more in here to see
This premonition I have is awful
Thanks to the moonbeam’s generosity”

The reason I’m looking backward while initially talking about Taylor’s new material is that many of the fan comments I’ve read express disappointment. Before folks start walking away from Hicks new material, before the folks who love to instigate long standing fan fights dive in, we need take a deep breath. That’s one of the most ridiculous things about this fan base – the always at the ready to take umbrage, to fight, to one-up one another. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read things insinuating we have ‘places’ in this group. How so and so is stepping out of her reach, has no ‘authority’ to speak about or write about Mr. Hicks.

Those who have been around a while know of the folks of which I am referring to in this case. I’m going to say this ain’t no country club folks, we are not church ladies, and no one has been crowned as the Queen. Most importantly, just because we don’t see eye to eye, write and say the same phrases in unison, no reason to brand one another. It’s the fanatic viewpoint that everyone need lock step with one another, conform to one theory of thought or you’re a hating fool not a fan. Next we’ll all be told how to dress ourselves and what colors to wear if we are true blue fans. I can see it now, the SP dress code as written by those who think they are in the know. We’ll be passed rules and etiquette and how to speak publicly or be ostracized.

I feel confident that Taylor has folks reading the on-line discussions even if at times, he has no time to do it. Likely it’s why that single is streaming right now on the Headquarter site. Too I feel confident that fans’ discussions, comments are taken under consideration, it’s part of marketing any product be it records or soap, you learn it in Marketing 101 in community college, get the consumer reaction.

That takes me to this one site in internet land in which anyone wanting a case study of what’s happening in and around the Hicks’ fan base need gather. Sort of the Watering Hole of the Hicks on-line community. I’m talking about “It’s All Grey”. I just am concerned that she, under pressure, might allow some of the bullies of the Soul Patrol on-line faction to get her down. The SP bullies might scare off those who want to discuss Taylor in a way once done on Gray Charles’ site. Objective and subjectively without name calling, petty insults and the need to chant the same words. We need sites like hers so I hope enough support can keep her going. My word to those who don’t like to debate, don’t want to hear anything but the voices in your head, have to be surrounded by folks who think just like you – don’t go there, stay in your sheep pen where it’s nice and safe. It’s that simple – but by not joining in, you are missing out.

That brings me to the whole filming the shadow tour issue I thought about yesterday while running with the kid and the dogs at the park. (I’m an incredible multi-tasker.) Certainly ticket sales are worth something but if he’s not filming these shadow tours he’s thinking small time and short-sighted. Considering the folks he’s used as consultants (Simon Climie) on this new record, the musicians behind him, and the uber talented videographer he hired (Jake Davis) I would not count Mr. Hicks as a small time thinker or a short-sighted flunky.

Perhaps next we’ll see some videos created by Mr. Hicks’ selected personnel on that pay site, or even up for free on the Youtube. Some while naturally wanting those Good Girl pats line up in complete agreement that no one should put film up on the Youtube or elsewhere need remember the last few vids of his you watched. What if those were not available? Perhaps Mr. Hicks should go the way of that Prince guy and jerk all his vids on the internet? Someone asked what is the good in having the cellcerts, the videos anyway – most are inferior quality, most not good sound or imagery. I find them a tool for the musician to utilize as a form of advertising.

Taking that into consideration, I do agree on restrictions on the whole process of audience photography, recording and filming. I’ve been to a few concerts in which it was a complete circus with ladies competing with one another for camera angles, etc. I half expected to see hair pulling and blouse rending. There’s having footage available of a show and then there’s that zoo that can be created by crass fans. Thing is where would we stand without sites like Youtube, Vimeo or Go Fish. The internet would be a darker less musical place without them.

So in a nutshell, and this fan base could constitute one big bag of nuts, my concerns lie in whether the fans the man currently has can stick around, all the while watching – and importantly listening to see if Taylor Hicks can go the distance. Together.

(Now those are great lyrics.)