Monday, January 31, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~~ "The Right Place"

It was written for Ray Charles, but after Brother Ray’s death, Taylor Hicks was given the Bryan Adams song to record in 2006 on his first post-Idol self-titled album.

You can imagine the raspy voice of Ray Charles and see him sitting at his piano with his head back pouring out this lasting vow of love. But Taylor Hicks brought his best Ray Charles, and made it his own with emotional vocals both tender and intense.

The Right Place

If it’s loving that you want
well it’s loving you receive
’cause you’ve come to the right place baby

yeah the door is always open
if you need some company
you’ve come to the right place baby.

Heaven knows, that I can’t read your mind
you can turn it around
darling one step at a time
angel, oh angel can’t you see
that I can’t live without you
so baby won’t you help me please

when there’s no one left to trust
well I think that you’ll agree
that you’ve come to the right place baby.
when you’re down on your luck
well just look around you’ll see
that you’ve come to the right place baby.

Sometimes you don’t know
what you’ve got until its gone
then you look around and it was right there all along
cause angel, angel you’ve got to understand
that I don’t wanna be without you
won't you help me if you can?

I ain’t asking for the world
I just want you to believe
that you’ve come to the right place baby
when there’s no one else to hold you
will I be there? yes indeed

Oh, you’ve come to the right place baby
yeah you’ve come to the right place
Oh, you’ve come to the right place baby
yeah you’ve come to the right place
yes, indeed

Written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance in 1988, “The Right Place” also became a mantra for when Taylor seemed to be in “the right place.”

Last week, Wonder from Season of the Soul took us back to a magical time in 2006 when Taylor was living in California where he could hear the waves in the morning before he went to the studio to record. Less than a year later, he was on a whirlwind tour with the music. The last stop on that tour in November, 2007, was at Pearl River, Mississippi, and I was lucky enough to be there.

One of the lasting memories I took from Pearl River was in the pictures of a “turned out for Taylor Hicks” casino. His poster was everywhere including a wall sized one!

Another hung on their gallery wall of artists who had performed there.

And on the same wall was the picture of a gray-haired Ray Charles who had also performed at Pearl River.

Just as I did when I sat at Pearl River looking at Taylor’s picture on the same wall with Ray Charles and every time I see Taylor perform this song, I think that Ray Charles would be proud that Taylor recorded “his” song. And that Taylor’s picture hanging on the wall was in “the right place.”

From those magical mornings in California to nights in Nashville now, Taylor Hicks will be “in the right place” for a long time, and I think that no one would be happier than Brother Ray.

One of the best performances of “The Right Place” was on The View in 2007, here on YouTube by Gypsee44:

The album, Taylor Hicks, with “The Right Place” was certified platinum by RIAA on January 17, 2008!

Reference: “One Thing Leads to Another,” by Wonder

Photos by San: Pearl River Casino, Philadelphia, MS, November, 2007.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~~ Drive By Truckers Stop in Nashville

Artists are fans too. Taylor Hicks was apparently in the crowd last night at the Drive By Truckers rock show in Nashville.

On a slow Saturday I was surfing the net looking at the Nashville scene where Taylor Hicks has been hanging out. I found immediately the Country Music Critics Awards to mainstream Nashville stars, Jamey Johnson, Dierks Bentley (from Arizona) and Taylor Swift, the top winners. I was listening to the deep, classic-Nashville voice of Jamey Johnson.

Then Taylor Hicks was on my Tweetdeck apparently from the scene. No, he was not seeing Jamey Johnson, but other Alabama artists, Drive By Truckers, described by AOL Music as “alternative country-rock”. Taylor was tweeting with photo: “Drive By Truckers!!! AL representing!” A look on the web at their schedule said they were at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville for a sold out show.

As I followed their fans’ tweets, I saw there was a Ustream of the show. In a minute I was listening to the same music that Taylor was. It was not your grandmother’s Nashville sound! I was listening to Nashville today.

Ain’t technology grand? Well, yes and no. I got an instant listen of the live music by Drive By Truckers. Artists have been told by supposedly experts in the business, don’t give away your music.

Let a fan tell you…give away your music! Technology will never be as great as being there. I stared at the slideshow of album covers as I listened to the streaming music. Aren’t we all so visual?

I had also spent yesterday watching videos of Taylor's "The Fall," looking at each critically for the pure sound of Taylor’s voice and the emotion on his face. First, I learned how important a good sound system is. Then, I saw the energy that the interaction of a real audience elicits in the musician. Although a video or a Ustream is a much-appreciated substitute when you can’t be there, my experiences yesterday reinforced that there is nothing like live music.

Listening to Drive By Truckers last night, I wanted to be there.

All great bands have toured. Bon Jovi was the largest grossing tour for 2010. After seeing the Randy Rogers Band, music blogger, Bob Lefsetz, said in his One Night in Nashville blog last year that it didn’t make him want to buy their music, but it made him want to see them live again.

I know touring is much more complicated than jumping on a big tour bus. Lefsetz recently said that some artists don’t want to tour…they just want to record a hit and make lots of money. Touring is hard work.

Thank goodness artists are not adverse to the hard work of touring! We all know one artist who isn’t. Taylor has said that touring is in his blood. And may it forever be!

Live music and touring musicians will always be alive and well. So, let’s just keep our bags packed.

Make good music, open the doors, and fans will be there! They were last night in Nashville!


Drive By Truckers continues its tour in this country and the UK and Ireland with a new album out on February 15th. For more information visit their website:

Photo tweeted by Taylor Hicks, 1.29.11

Monday, January 24, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~~ "Running on Empty"

Aren’t we all sometimes “running on empty?”

Taylor Hicks is a master at “tags.” In the middle of a raucous “Seven Mile Breakdown,” he puts out his hands to quiet the band. If you’ve been there, you know a “song within the song” is coming—a tag. Taylor may ease into a surprise or a familiar one.

Or there is no pause, and you are rolling “Eastbound and Down” before you know it!

Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” was a surprise—a new tag during “Seven Mile Breakdown” at an Epcot Center concert in October, 2010.

What makes a song resonate with you? Why can a song stop you in your tracks and touch a chord somewhere deep inside?

This is a road song—the title song from the album released in 1977 and recorded on the road, in hotels, on stage, and even on the bus by Southern California born and bred, Jackson Browne, and his touring band. It is life on the road with touring musicians. Taylor Hicks says that touring is in his blood, so is it any wonder it turned up as one of his tag songs?

I like road songs. They move like the rousing “Seven Mile Breakdown,” or they wind along like “Running on Empty.” But they take you somewhere.

Of course it is also a metaphorical road song—the road of life, looking back, looking on, and looking at how we’re doing.

Aren’t we all sometimes running on empty? And running behind? Just running on?

I don’t try to figure out what a song writer means with the lyrics. It is the artist’s song. When I hear it and it resonates with me, it becomes mine, and all that matters is what it means to me.

Running on Empty” became mine from the first note. I think it brought back images of the flat fields and winding roads of the Midwest prairie. Growing up there as a teenager, running on empty meant different things. We weren’t really poor, but we didn’t have much more than necessities. The farm country was sparce, simple, and lonely even if you weren’t alone. I was in school with life ahead—just dreams, but hazy ones—on a road to where?

“Running on Empty” did make me think.

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-o-one
I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on

Remember when you were seventeen and running in the moment. Life was a California dreaming “running up one-o-one.” Life was all “summer fields.”

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don’t know when that road turned onto the road I’m on

If your love is the music, is it a struggle to keep that alive and do what a singer must to survive?

Remember when you were 21 with your life ahead? Then somehow, you got to this road that you are on. Do you know how?

Running on - running on empty
Running on - running blind
Running on - running into the sun
But I’m running behind

No matter what, we keep running on, even on empty, even blind and into the sun like the moth into the flame. And it seems like, always behind.

Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don’t know about anyone but me
If it takes all night, that’ll be all right
If I can get you to smile before I leave

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don't know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too

Holding on to friends once there. It is a shock to sometimes find that your rock—your friends—they are running too. And it can be heartbreaking…

Running on - running on empty
Running on - running blind
Running on - running into the sun
But I'm running behind

Honey you really tempt me
You know the way you look so kind
I'd love to stick around but I'm running behind
You know I don't even know what I'm hoping to find
Running into the sun but I'm running behind.

Funny thing is, I researched this song and album, read about Jackson Browne and the context in which the song was written, and found reviews from that time. Then, for me, some of that initial mystique and feelings for the song and Taylor’s performance were gone!

I questioned whether I had “gotten it right”…???

Then I watched numerous videos of Jackson Browne singing “Running on Empty,” and the magic came back!

Lesson learned: Own the music for what it is to you. “Information” doesn’t matter. The music does—wherever it takes you, whatever it makes you feel, however it touches you!

Own the music…it is a gift from the artist to you. It IS yours!

Thank you, Mr. Browne and Mr. Hicks, for “Running on Empty.”

A young Jackson Browne performs “Running on Empty” in 1977:

Over 30 years later, Jackson Browne is still a touring musician. With all the glam of today’s live performances or the simplicity of the acoustic stage, Jackson Browne performs his best selling single, “Running on Empty.” There are many videos on YouTube. This one from Montgomery, Alabama, in 2008 (I believe--it wasn’t dated) has good audio:

If you would like to read a previous blog about Taylor’s music, here is the “dark horse” ~~ “I Live on a Battlefield,” from August, 2009:

Next (I think): “The Fall,” with unpredictable lyrics and melodies, a beautiful song that seems to have come from deep inside a younger Taylor Hicks. Is it the song?

And sometime in the future (I think): “Somehow.” Is this the real “country” in Taylor Hicks? It sounded that way to me at first listen.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~~ "Jam Cruise 9 'Future' Night' at Sea..."

Photos and videos continue to surface from the recent jamfest, Jam Cruise 9. Thanks to Butch Worrell and Concert Photos Magazine for sharing this:

JAM CRUISE 9 “Future” night at Sea/Bob Weir’s Scaring The Children and more.

By Butch Worrell

More fun than one person can handle in one night with 3 to 4 acts playing in different venues at the same time. The official theme was “Future night” and how some people dressed was quite…”different”. I managed to catch Marco Benevento on piano in the Grand Atrium, Some Cat from Japan on the Pool Deck stage, then down to deck 6 for the Teatro Carlo Theatre where Bob Weir’s Scaring the Children with Steve Kimock played til past Midnight. A bonus was catching Taylor Hicks of American Idol fame jamming with JoJo’s Mardi Gras Band on the pool deck afterward.

More photos Jam Cruise 9 from Worrell:

Our thanks again to Mr. Worrell and Concert Photos Magazine for sharing these photos!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~~ Moving Music on Mondays!

“Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” ~Hal Borland

It is January again, and I’m listening to country music?

Over 30 years ago I relocated to Arizona from the Midwest. My DH got a pair of western boots, and I gave up the Motown and pop sounds of the Midwest for Southwest country. Yes, Arizona is country music. KNIX in Phoenix has been a top country radio station for years.

A lot has happened since that move in 1976—the year that Taylor Hicks was born.

As I look at the Taylor Hicks landscape for 2011, I see “Nashville.” He said a few months ago that it was the place for him to be.

It’s a clue, but I don’t think that Taylor Hicks is going country—you’ve seen him do “Badge,” right? And the snippet of “Gran Torino”? You saw videos and recaps from the recent Jam Cruise, yes?

Sure, “Seven Mile Breakdown” has country rock all over it, “Wedding Day Blues” has the tongue-in-cheek twang of country, “19” has a poignant message that is often part of the country song, and “Maybe You Should” is the popular country theme of lost love.

From the beginning, Taylor Hicks could not be “pigeon-holed.” I don’t think he will pigeon hole himself into “country” as long as there are Jam Cruises!

Which brings me to Music Monday…

I hope that some of the experience that Borland talks about will serve me as I take this blog in a little different direction. Some of my favorite blogs here have been about the music—“Bulletproof,” “Indiscriminate Act of Kindness,” “Seven Mile Breakdown,” “Maybe You Should,” and the music business from blogger, Bob Lefsetz.

So this blog now on Monday will be about the music…usually. No promises here, but just an idea to focus on the heart of Taylor Hicks and his world—the MUSIC—from a fan and follower’s perspective!

One of my ideas is to explore another side of Nashville. I watched The Street Corner Symphony, a Nashville a capella group, almost win NBC’s The Sing Off. Their “Down on the Corner” was awesome!

I hope you will join in as we explore this new road. I shall appreciate all the help I can get!

So, welcome to #musicmonday at TTHC!

Let’s just see where this journey takes us.

And where Taylor Hicks takes us in 2011!!!


Thanks to Allyn for our gorgeous new look on TTHC!

Next (I think): “Running on Empty”…a song that instantly struck a chord with me at Epcot. I want to explore why.

Stay tuned…

Photo by San: Taylor at Epcot Center, October, 2010.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~~ "People Get Ready"

Reflections for the weekend...

"Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth." Mohandas Gandhi

This is one of the most poignant performances ever by Taylor Hicks:

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." Mohandas Gandhi

Thanks to GailCC for sharing this stunning video on YouTube.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~ Jam bands--or bands that jam?

Taylor Hicks joined the large and raucous jamband community on board the MSC Poesia sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last week and immersed himself into the floating musical party.

This was not the first Jam Cruise for Taylor. He had been onboard before, as a fan.

An early-on journal entry from about the guests, including Mr. Hicks:

“Likewise, the ship’s Pool Deck stage also hosted some intriguing New Orleans jam sessions. Galactic—the only band to appear on every Jam Cruise—played a two hour set that featured appearances by Fred Wesley, Corey Glover, Corey Harris and Mike Dillon, among others. The set came to a powerful close when American Idol star Taylor Hicks, Karl Denson and Will Bernard all emerged for a final jam. Soon after, Widespread Panic keyboardist JoJo Hermann performed with his Mardi Gras band. As its name suggests, JoJo’s Mardi Gras Band pays tribute to the Big Easy, and the group’s show featured appearances by New Orleans heroes George Porter Jr., Ian Neville, Anders Osborne and Big Chief Monk Bourdreaux. A less obvious guest was Hicks who—despite his mainstream fame—considers himself a core part of the jamband community. He even played in a Widespread Panic cover band in college.”

It was a first Jam Cruise (albeit from afar) for this fan, who wasn’t clear about the whole jamband phenomenon.

I had only heard of some of the entertainers. I went looking for that “core” that makes jam band jam bands or a Jam Cruise a jam fest. Are they jam bands, or bands that jam?

From the book, “Jambands ; the complete guide to the players, music & scene,” by Dean Budnick, (owner of Relix Magazine and and Introduction by Butch Trucks:

Butch states...

“…Semantics. Let us say that what these bands share is: an ability to play and a seriousness about their music that maximizes musicianship and minimizes showmanship.”

This sounded like the Jam Cruise music I had been reading about.

“To me it is all about blurring the lines and blending all genres of music – rock, blues, jazz, gospel, soul, funk, folk, bluegrass, zydeco….Take all the great musical styles and from those innovate, interpret and improvise to produce something new and exciting….”

More of what I had just read about. I was surprised to see some genres on board: bluegrass and acoustic sets? I thought this was all loud and raucous!

According to site:

“Though it's been pretty well agreed upon that 1970's era improvisational rock groups like the Graeteful Dead and the Allman Brothers are the forefathers of today's thriving jam band scene, it's tempting to widen the scope. Was Cream a jam band? Was Led Zeppelin? What about the John Coltrane Quartet? And hey, those wicked nineteenth century chamber ensembles - did they start the whole thing with their violins and cellos?"


“…jam bands can be multi-genre. A jam band is basically any band that performs live on stage and improvises a lot of their notes. Usually these artists are more noted for their live recordings rather than their studio albums. The term was coined in the early 90s when Phish took over the psychedelic rock scene in place of The Grateful Dead.”

Wikipedia weighs in:

“Jam bands are musical groups whose albums and live performances relate to a fan culture that originated with the 1960s group Grateful Dead and continued in the 1990s with Phish, String Cheese Incident, and Leftover Salmon, among others. The performances of these bands often feature extended musical improvisation ("jams") over rhythmic grooves and chord patterns and long sets of music that cross genre boundaries.

And this definition written by Budnick for the program of the first Jammy Awards in 2000:

What Is a Jam Band? Please cast aside any preconceptions that this phrase may evoke. The term, as it is commonly used today, references a rich palette of sounds and textures. These groups share a collective penchant for improvisation, a commitment to songcraft and a propensity to cross genre boundaries, drawing from a range of traditions including blues, bluegrass, funk, jazz, rock, psychedelia and even techno.”


“blurring the lines and blending all genres of music – rock, blues, jazz, gospel, soul, funk, folk, bluegrass, zydeco….Take all the great musical styles and from those innovate, interpret and improvise to produce something new and exciting….”

Well, no wonder Taylor Hicks considers himself a core part of the jamband community!

I do know what jamband is all about!

And I know why Taylor Hicks was right at home this week on Jam Cruise 9…


Photos: Pool deck from ship's webcam; stage above by

For all the Jam Cruise journal recaps and photos, check out our Connections Anthology: