A Bonenkai for Taylor Hicks

by Basenji

December is an auspicious month as it contains two important birthdays: mine and the Heisei Emperor’s. [Ahem, correction: three.] The Emperor asked for, and received, a grandson. My gift will be Taylor Hicks the album. [The third gentleman gets myrrh.]

The album’s impending arrival tempts one to elegize the past year, to write a melancholic meditation on leaving behind the delights of first discovering Taylor, just as he steps away from the approving embrace of the Soul Patrol and into the critical glare of the general public. I choose another approach to taking stock of 2006.

Let me explain: As the rest of us prepare for our holidays, the Japanese attend numerous bonenkai, or “forget the year parties.” Copious amounts of alcohol (and perhaps some karaoke) assist in the forgetting, but the point is to bid old worries and problems goodbye and prepare as a team for the coming year. At our bonenkai, we do not literally forget the past year, but I suggest that we cultivate in ourselves a stouthearted (and slightly hung over) readiness for what is to come. It is with this attitude that I welcome the coming album and the coming year.

The Symbolism of Ray’s Jacket

How do we face the New Year with stouthearted readiness? First, we look at how Taylor approaches his music. The recent Vibe article by Jon Caramanica stated that Taylor was the “embodiment” of 50 years of popular music. While it is true that Taylor may pick and choose among musical genres and that metaphorical (and actual) sampling is accepted these days, I don’t think Taylor is unique in representing decades of “musical crossbreeding.” This description could be applied to any number of serious contemporary musicians. The fact is all music, all art, is inspired by those who have come before. Harold Bloom, in his book The Western Canon, asserts that the individual artist seeks to create works that struggle with others (past and present) for survival. [Bloom would hate my applying his literary theory to contemporary music, but what the hell.] He writes that a piece of art “…acquires all of humanity’s disorders, including the fear of mortality, which…is transmuted into the quest to be canonical, to join communal or societal memory.” Every serious musician, by learning from and seeking to transcend his or her influences, is looking for a seat at music history’s table. [Wake up; I’m getting to the jacket.]

Everything Taylor has said about Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Joe Cocker, and his other influences relates to his struggle for a place at the table. When the critics attack the new album like rabid dogs, they will be looking for his canonical potential, the seriousness with which he approaches creating music. It’s all about whether the new American Idol is just affecting an inherited artist’s style or if he represents an original synthesis of his musical influences.

Recently, Taylor was given one of Ray Charles’s jackets. Vibe reports he said, “It was all I could do not to fall down and cry like a baby. It was almost like a nod from Ray, like ‘You’re ok.’” Taylor’s desire to be a part of music history is an aspiration that already sets him apart from the common mob of pop stars. He has the intellect, combined with natural and developed talent, to move past his comfortable zone and to push the boundaries of his music (which could be uncomfortable for his nostalgic early fans). His music is going to mature and evolve, in the same way his interpretations of “Georgia” change. He is honored to have Ray’s jacket, but he isn’t going to wear it. And that’s good news for us.

[Note: Taylor’s harmonica playing is a massive topic in itself. I am not commenting on it because I am a coward. Don’t hang around looking for harp porn. Go listen to “Fishwater” (with Widespread Panic) and the track called “When the Saints Go Marching In” (Open Door Café live set).]

“Naked in the Jungle”: Taylor’s Performing Style

Let’s get down to it. My clue that the American Idol guy was going to be very interesting musically came from listening to his version of “Naked in the Jungle” [from the December 23, 2005 live set; if he doesn’t rap, it’s not the correct version]. I’d lurked around the fan boards for a while until June 18, 2006, when I wrote my first posts on Gray Charles about my excitement that Taylor had performed with Snoop Dogg in Birmingham.

Although I was not sure that Taylor had arranged that version of “Naked in the Jungle,” his rap at least signaled his desire to try something new. The appearance with Snoop Dogg filled me with glee because it confirmed “Naked in the Jungle” wasn’t just a fluke, but was something Taylor was pursuing. I had heard him infuse rap into Van Morrison’s funk. Now he was doing the reverse with his harmonica performance on “Gin and Juice” by integrating blues and rap. Rap gets criticized for the shock value of its lyrics, but I suspect Taylor is interested in how rap can be used to emote (more on that later).

Taylor is exciting to me because he can incorporate something like freestyle rap into a Van Morrison song and make it sound like a natural integration. Here again I question the idea that Taylor can simply “embody” 50 years of music. Yes, he (and every person living today) inherited the musical crossbreeding that has come before, but musical synthesis of the future will still have to be created by an artist one song at a time. The challenge is that these future experiments in synthesis must be successful in both theory and performance. I look forward to more of Taylor’s successful brainstorms.

Apart from the rap, “Naked in the Jungle” isn’t Taylor’s most interesting vocal performance because, as a funk song, it is repetitive by design. Certainly, though, it showcases Taylor’s distinctive voice, the elements of which we all know very well: his high natural range that would sound even sweeter than it does if his Alabama vowels did not mellow the timbre; how he roughens up his voice on purpose by falling off clear tones into growls and rasps; and the transitions he makes between singing from his throat and chest. Happily, it is exactly the sweet/mellow sound and tone transitions that make his voice so effective emotionally and stylistically for soul music and any “groovy” offshoots he chooses to pursue.

Many people have noted that Taylor’s greatest strength is how he emotionally delivers a performance, but this quality can be difficult to describe. I’m going to give it a go: Let’s contrast one of Van Morrison’s performances of his own song [from The Philosopher’s Stone, CD 1] with Taylor’s version. Without claiming that Taylor is “better” than Van, I can say there is a difference in emotive quality. For example, whereas Van repeats the lyric “speak out” in sharp staccato, Taylor holds the notes a bit longer and inflects them like the declaration of a principle. Van issues an order; Taylor rallies the troops.

Another contrast between the two versions is revealed in the growls and screeches (so to speak). Van’s growly vocal feels like an unceasing attack. Several times in this version, he chants a series of “ha”s that climb higher and higher, rhythmically careening up, but never pass over the top of the curve, like a tangent heading to infinity. For me, the effect is as bracing as mouthful of Listerine. Now Taylor also growls the lyrics (there are lions and tigers in this song, after all), but at the point where Van is attacking, Taylor is easing into the semi-spoken murmurs of the rap. He seduces with the teasing improvisation (laced with expletives) and then crescendos with three wordless cries. Everything you need to know about the emotive musical styling of Taylor Hicks is contained in the intensity of the climax and release of the third guttural cry.

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”: Cover Songs Are Our Friends

Yes, the songs on In Your Time and Under the Radar are all charming and addictive. Yes, it was a poignant (two-drink-minimum) Taylor Hicks and LiMBO traveling renaissance fair this summer: Watch him juggle songs and lyrics, now it’s a calypso song, now it’s a blues ballad! Now he’s a fire-breathing harmonica player, stand back! Watch the audience scream the magic words at him (heart’s metallurgy) until their larynges explode. Watch me sulk bitterly that I wasn’t there.

The evil capitalists (and the fickle public) are forcing him to hurry up and move product. We whine for originals, but he says he was offered a treasure chest of golden songs. If you’ve been following my argument so far (he’s ambitious, talented, innovative, has a distinctive voice and he emotes), you must agree it is practically inconceivable that with a quality cover song his performance could fail to cause us internal damage from joy. He has already told us, everything’s groovy.

So what did he have tucked in his underwear drawer in the way of original songs? This is the exciting part. At first I admit I was feeling a little Charlie Brown about the originals. The fact is on one (or two) of his old ditties, I think his own music can be too delicate for Taylor the Performer. We can juxtapose the passion he brings to his interpretations of songs like “Naked in the Jungle,” “Gonna Move” (Oasis Bar), or his versions of “Georgia” and the music and lyrics he has written for himself. The latter sometimes fail to inspire a vocal performance con cojones. For example, the Under the Radar version of “Hold on to Your Love” is catchy, but the lyrics suffer from an excess of cliché (intentionally ironic or not). It doesn’t feel like he has anything to grab onto, and his singing is pleasant, rather than affecting. Good grief! But then all was well, I remembered even scraggly “Hold on to Your Love” can be decorated and enjoyed in a joyous and (ir)reverent live performance by completely changing the style and improvisationally injecting other songs (the Open Door Café set has a good example of this).

Of course, there are the True Grit songs like “Somehow” and “Heart and Soul,” which naturally bring out Taylor’s best qualities. Perhaps he had a few songs like those tucked away for the album. When I watched him sing “Georgia” on Rehearsals.com, I concluded (right or wrong) that Taylor wasn’t interested in simply rehashing his old demo music. “Georgia” is his old vocal gym, the song on which he trained himself to sing. Nevertheless, there he is pushing himself, working to create something new, something particularly Taylor (and not Ray). That performance is a very encouraging indicator of how he will approach writing his new songs. I’m excited to hear an album full of originals on which he had the time and the resources to explore his current musical inspirations. That will come. But for now, the golden cover songs are our new best friends.

Bonenkai: A Fresh Start

Let’s return to our “forget the year party.” Our boy is all dolled up, lost a few pounds, gained some confidence and some cash, has shown us he has the talent, plus a sense of sardonic humor and a stubborn streak: now we get to hear the results. The pre-AI music and the LiMBO appearances suggest he has the potential to blow us away, but some of us are anxious because we are holding on to our cherished impressions of him. Instead of mourning the passing of the old year, at our party we shall toast the new work to come. Our bonenkai tradition will be to let go of our thinking that we love the old Taylor the best. To hold on too firmly to the old is to court disappointment, as any of our favorite artists’ influences and tastes are constantly changing. It’s called creativity. Chin up Soul Patrol: in return for our willingness to let go, we shall be treated to more profound pleasures, pleasures that come from the amalgamation of what has come before with the delights of the new.

Please join me in a cheer for our boy, using the Japanese phrase that means “do your best and persevere”:

Ganbatte Taylor!

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66 Responses to A Bonenkai for Taylor Hicks

  1. mamaforpeace says:

    Wow, girl! That was a great read! “He’s honored to have Ray’s jacket, but he isn’t going to wear it”… Loved that because as much as I loved Ray, I don’t want an imitation of Ray, I want this new guy who is going to take us on a musical journey. I don’t want Ray, or Ottis, or Joe, or Van… Been there, done that, doing it still and enjoying it just as much. I want to hear Taylor Hicks’ “voice”, because I do believe he has his very own unique one. No problem with letting go, I’m ready!

  2. Tami says:

    Thanks for a very enjoyable read. While I have my opinions about Taylor performances both pro and con, they certainly aren’t meant to say he should do one thing or another in the future as he creates his own special place in music history. I am more than willing to follow wherever he wants to lead and look forward to the journey with great anticipation.

  3. KK says:

    Basenji:
    It’s good to have you back (since the time you made me cry with a farewell piece somewhere. I’ve had my own “”forget the past” party and can’t remember when or where. ) You are one amazing writer. Love it.
    We are ready for the new boy. (But do miss the old as well.) I’m constantly taken aback at how his face changes with each photograph but even more so how he rearranges what music comes out of him. This versatility (chameleon style) will be his success. Thanks for your word picture of Taylor and his music.

  4. Robin4T says:

    aerinphil and all. Just to be clear. I don’t mean to suggest for a minute that I’ve ever come close to articulating what Basenji expressed here. I was speaking instead of the immediate familiarity, the gut-level recognition that I experienced when reading her thoughts. The “oh yes, exactly, that’s it” that I felt while reading this wonderful essay. Basenji is in a league of her own.

  5. A. says:

    Thanks for the comment, judyjs. Welcome to the site. I hope you enjoy!

  6. judyjs says:

    This is my first time here. This was very moving about our Taylor. You have captured the essence of him. I too, experienced tears while reading this wonderful piece. They are not tears of pain or sorrow, but of sheer joy to know there are so many who truly ‘get Taylor’. I am one of the older fans I guess, but you expressed how a lot of us feel regarding the everchanging Taylor. We loved him on AI, we loved on the AI tour, we loved him with LMBO, we love seeing him on Rehearsals. com. We will love whatever he gives to us and will leave us wanting more. We are so anxious to see what Taylor will present to us next. Taylor will evolve. He has said he really likes to perform and I’m sure we have not seen everything he “can do for us”. He knows how to entertain us. I believe he now knows how much he affects us. Taylor loves his fans. This man has so much more just aching to get out. Taylor is one of a kind.
    Thanks for letting me express my thoughts. This is a great website. I think I’ll be back.

  7. aerinphil says:

    Robin, at least you have “almost” articulated what Basenji wrote, while probably some of us could never come close to putting what we know about Taylor Hicks into words. Thank you Basenji.

  8. Robin4T says:

    Basenji, I am late in posting this because I quite simply did not know what to say. And I wanted to say this right. So here goes my best shot.

    Much like Taylor’s music, your writing creates in me both a sense of familiarity and a sense of awe. The familiarity, I think, comes from the recognition of thoughts I have almost formulated, ideas that I have almost expressed. The awe comes from the realization that never in a million years could I have expressed those ideas in your unique and beautiful way.

    I sincerely hope I’m not bringing up the end of this thread, because this should be required reading for all who support Taylor’s music. Thank you.

  9. Basenji says:

    Look in the mp3 section of GrayCharles.com. Look for the group of songs called “Live Set December 23, 2005). He doesn’t rap in the other version.

  10. KimLoree says:

    I read this article the other day and had to come back to it again. It brings tears to my eyes when you call him “our boy”, because that’s how I feel about him.
    I can’t imagine that the “profound pleasures” we have coming, will do anything other that to unite us all in our support of Taylor.
    Well…I’m going to wipe away the tears and go watch a Taylor video to bring back the smile.
    BTW….thought I had seen everything out there, but have not found the “Naked in the Jungle”. Can anyone help me?

  11. Jenk says:

    “…it is practically inconceivable that with a quality cover song his performance could fail to cause us internal damage from joy.”

    Ha! It is lines like this that I read and think, “How does she come up with this stuff? And how can I do it, too?”

    Basenji, your ability to intersperse cool-headed, intellectual prose with hints of underlying raw emotion is just marvelous. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  12. jem4tay says:

    Basenji,

    Whether you are taking us on a glorious fantasy ride or bringing us back to reality, your writing/thoughts never fail to be exactly what is needed. The last thing this Soul Patrol lady would want to do is hold Taylor back. It is that spark of individuality in him and all the things that set him apart from the pack that ignited my strong desire to see him fulfill his dreams. I feel really lame commenting after such an eloquent article, so I will just say…sincerely…thank you.

    Ganbatte, Taylor!

  13. TrueNorth says:

    What a timely, thoughtful, hip and important essay you have contributed, Basenji. Excellent work, you good shepherd.

    Ganbatte, Taylor!

  14. Cali50 says:

    “Do your best and persevere, Taylor!” So glad you’re back and decided to stay for a while, Basenji!

  15. Misccoast says:

    WOW! I needed that! A great intellectual workout on a subject that obsesses me. I’m so glad you have the love of Taylor that can express some opinions in such a way that we other TaylorObsessed folks are not all offended and argumentative.

    I believe Taylor’s chameleon tendencies are the core of the prediction that he will have a long running career. He seems to feel his audiences and instictively adds, not what they think they want, but what they need. He loves to set the desire level for his music, then withhold it until he is ready- like he did Georgia. He sang it in Atlanta, finally!

    I would give anything to share a bottle of good wine with you, and stay up all night talking about the man and his music. Again, Wow!

  16. Bassgirl says:

    Damn Basenji,

    That was MORE than well said.

  17. Squeebee says:

    Basenji, I always enjoy reading your writings. Thanks for putting into words so eloquently what so many of us are thinking!

  18. Mary Bell says:

    Basenji,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this for all of us. The article was wonderful!

  19. JaniceInOrlando says:

    Basenji – what a great, articulate article, so glad you shared that with us! You have an amazing way of putting into words what others cannot about Taylor’s style and what attracts us to his music. Keep up the great articles, I love reading them.

    And I’m ready to start that Japanese tradition right in Florida – let the Bonenkai begin!

  20. EJ says:

    Unbelievable. Basenji, this is what I’ve been trying to express but couldn’t because I’m not that good with words, and I don’t have much of a background in anything except the sciences. You really nailed several key things about Taylor, the fans’ relationship with him, and what the future is likely to bring. However the most compelling part of the post, for me, was the theme of looking towards Taylor’s future in an optimistic and united manner, without wishing or willing it to take a particular shape. Would anyone really want the future to be limited by the state of their being at the present moment? Or do we want to throw the doors open to things that may be better than we ever could have imagined in the here and now? I’ve lived long enough to see things that I never expected happen, many times. Enemies become friends, desperate situations find unanticipated solutions. One of the things I like about Taylor is the way he takes chances and stretches his boundaries. By doing this he ends up creating music that appeals to a lot of different folks- some are captivated by Naked in the Jungle and some swoon over The Fall. I think it just shows his versatility. I’ve said before (at the risk of ducking tomatoes) that I don’t care so much where Taylor’s been, only where he’s going. He’s persistant enough that even if this album isn’t what it should be in terms of success, he will eventually take his place in music history and do very, very well. Hey, as he likes to say, “It’s all good”. So thank you for this thoughtful tribute/analysis/rallying cry. Nice thing to wake up to this morning!

  21. texastaylorfan says:

    Basenji, you are a thoughtful and talented writer. I enjoyed your article.

    I do, however, feel the need to say that “Naked in the Jungle” and “Sneaking Sally Though the Alley” are the only two songs of all my Taylor music (and I have accumulated a lot!) that I skip through when they come around. I just don’t care for them. On the other hand, “Hold On To Your Love” on UTR is one of my favorites. It’s just sweet and romantic, and I love Taylor’s voice on it. I don’t think that makes me a shallow fan or less musically intellectual than other Taylor fans. It’s just my taste.

    I look forward to whatever Taylor presents in the future. I have loved the rehearsal videos and am still reeling over his performance with LMBO I saw in Austin. Ahhhhhhh. But I am one of the many fans who also love the UTR songs and look forward to more of those, as well.

  22. Betsy says:

    Bravo!!! Taylor is very lucky to have such an accomplished scribe on his side.

  23. LindaJ says:

    Thank you Basenji you are blessed with a remarkable ability…your writing is always sensational …I hope and pray Taylor gets the chance to read this…. You must, must, must utilize this wonderful gift to enable other people to get the same pleasure we get from your work.

  24. justmi says:

    Great Basenji. I particularily enjoyed this line, “To hold on too firmly to the old is to court disappointment”…..love this. This one line summed up everything nicely. To often we get stuck/comfortable and forget to grow/spread are wings thus loosing sight of the forest through the trees. Its always a privilege when we are softly reminded to keep on and a treat when we can be part of someone’s path unraveling before our eyes.

    Ganbatte to all!! (Just how do you pronounce this???)

  25. katja says:

    Wow. Thank you again Basenji, that was beautiful. You have a wonderful talent and I’m so glad I know about it! If you ever write a book I will buy it. I love your work.

    Ganbatte Taylor! Ganbatte everyone!

  26. Phile says:

    Metallurgy and amalgamation. Heh. Very nicely turned.

    There’s nothing like a pep talk before the big game. So long as nobody pulls the football away from Taylor just before he kicks it, we’ll all be fine.

    Bokenai is a wonderful concept. And Ganbatte too.

    Thank you for sharing your creativity.

  27. Marianne Yelle says:

    I like the words and tone of your article, Basenji. It is nice to hear this (as you said) in advance of a ‘possible’ onslaught of mean spirited critiques. I know I found them very hard to take with the Idol tour. I hope all Soul Patrollers continue to support Taylor in his mission as an artist -to grow and change. Such excitement for everyone!

  28. abbysee says:

    Basenji, I so thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts and analysis. It’s been a real roller coaster ride following this Taylor Hicks guy, but we are certainly better for it. Reading this article makes the anticipation of what he has in store for us even more sweet. And for all of the other accoutrements that comes along with Taylor, and being a Taylor fan it really is all about the music. *Raising my glass* Ganbatte, Taylor!

  29. mojavedesertgirl says:

    And supposedly basenjis can’t talk…

    Amazing thinking, amazing writing. Spellbound. “…a sense of sardonic humor and a stubborn streak…” – yep, you caught the qualities I most admire in Taylor, and honestly, in anyone. Including you. Including myself. He stands out in a crowd, and so do you my fine canine friend.

    Smooooch!

  30. crammit says:

    Holy Cow! Not only was that beautifully written but I KNOW that it expressed what so many of us are feeling about the “old” and the “new” Taylor. Thanks for a great article.

  31. YoursSoully says:

    Basenji – exquisite! Thank you for putting into words thoughts and feelings many of us have but couldn’t articulate. Thank you for the NEW concepts that give cause for reflection and stretch our minds and hearts. You are quite a talent in your own right!

  32. AgingHippie says:

    Basenji, once again you have impressed me with your insightfulness and clarity. I am looking forward to watching Taylor’s musical journey and the incredible potential we have glimpsed is the reason I have become a ‘fan’ for the first time in my life.

    Bonenkai – what a concept ! – think it is time to start a new tradition in my family – thank you so much for sharing.

  33. soyouknowitsgotsoul says:

    Terrific discussion of the “past” Taylor offerings. I am just waiting to hear him sing anything he wishes in whatever way he wants. I keep thinking of the bottled fever and sense of suppressed passion that came from every AI appearance both during the season and on the tour. So many times I wanted to scream at the TV and say “just let him sing it all the way out. Let him finish when he’s ready and not when you need a commercial break”. December 12th can’t get here soon enough.

  34. juliegr says:

    WOW — your essay expressed so many of my feelings about Taylor Hicks and his music. This year has been a roller coaster on so many levels but the joy of watching Taylor progress from a bar/wedding/karaoke/PopTart Death tour singer to the point where he is about to release his eagerly awaited first big time release has been especially happy and proud for all of us.

    To answer the question from his AI winner’s coronation song: “Do I Make You Proud” — YES, Taylor — you do!

    Thanks for your thoughtful and beautiful memorandum!

    Cheers Everybody!! Carry on!!~~~~

  35. Tee says:

    That should be, “You are a gifted writer”.

  36. Tee says:

    Impressive, Basenji! You are gifted writer…I always enjoy reading your thoughts!

  37. callmethebreeze says:

    Take it to the limit one more time. Here’s to the New Year, and the new Taylor offering. BONENKAI, fer sure. I’m ready for a ride on any pony he saddles. Big cheesy grin here.

  38. calimari says:

    Bravo, Basenji, Bravo! For me, Taylor has shown quite a range from his pre-AI stuff, to AI, to what we’ve seen him do with LMBO….I enjoy it all on many levels & I expect I’ll enjoy the new CD as well. And the tour.

  39. Basenji says:

    jenniesaunt, I promised myself I wouldn’t answer comments here because I don’t want to get into debates, and it betrays a lack of modesty, but I see that I have no self-control: I didn’t mean he sounds worse because of the Alabama vowels, I meant the opposite. Taylor’s high singing voice could have been too “sweet” (too placid? too banal? too pop?), but the Alabama accent mellows the timbre (the “texture” of the voice) and makes it right for soul music. No no, I lived in Montgomery for a year and I’m convinced that the middle/north Alabama accent is one of the loveliest accents in American English—particularly for singing.

  40. BarbieB says:

    Basenji… perfect .. I hope that Taylor reads this and I agree with everything Double D said.

  41. Phoebe says:

    Insightful. Philosophical. Thoughtful. Deep. At a place called “The Boogie” no less.

    Basenji is ALWAYS a good read.

    You rock girl.

  42. PST says:

    now that’s a F%@$(& blog entry!

  43. JAG says:

    Basenji
    What a gift you have been given ,you express yourself with such grace and wit and truthfullness I agree that we should look to 2007, as a new begining.Taylor is so well grounded and I trust his instinct will always guide him down the right path musically. Thanks again for a most wonderful reflection.

  44. jenniesaunt says:

    Basenji,
    It is just so nice to read something so well done, and I do not mean over cooked. Bravo and standing ovation are sent to Japan for Basenji! I understand your comment about Taylor’s natural range sounding sweeter without the AL vowels. But, it is music to my ears to hear Taylor’s AL vowels. For example, his pronunciation of “some exotic bird” in “Moving On” is something that makes me smile every time I hear it. As a Southerner, I hear his singing and it is like comfort food for my ears.

  45. jenniesaunt says:

    Basenji,
    It is just so nice to read something so well done, and I do not mean over cooked. Bravo and standing ovation are sent to Japan for Basenji! I understand your comment about Taylor’s natural range sounding sweeter without the AL vowels. But, it is music to my ears to hear Taylor’s AL vowels. For example, his pronunciation of “some exotic bird” in “Moving On” is something that makes me smile every time I hear it. As a Southerner, I hear his singing and it is like comfort food for my ears.

  46. bcath says:

    Thanks so much, Basenji.

  47. tishlp says:

    Excellent article, you really make me think. I had to listen to Naked In The Jungle again as I was reading your article. I think the free-style rapping was one of the most delightful things I discovered when listening to Taylor’s live sets. I am not particularly a fan of main-stream rap, but I really enjoy Taylor’s style. This jarred my memory of the interview that Ryan Seacrest did with Taylor and Katherine on Larry King Live about 2 days after Taylor had won AI. At the end of the interview Randy gave both Kat and Taylor some advice about using AI as a stepping stone to a long career. Taylor was politely listening to the advice, but you could almost see in his eyes that he didn’t really need Randy’s advice, he already knew what he was going to do. Randy tells them both that they should stick to what they do best. Then Ryan says that Kat shouldn’t try to sing Taylor’s music and Taylor shouldn’t try rap, not realizing that Taylor had already been doing free-style rap. Taylor laughs and never lets on about his ability, but the funny thing about it is I bet he had already been milling over the idea of merging blues harmonica and rap and now he had the connections to make it happen. I can’t wait for what delightful surprises Taylor has in store for us. Thanks, Bansenji for reminding us that all art is constantly evolving and it’s nothing to be nervous about. Bring it on Taylor!

  48. ShareThatSmile says:

    Basenji, it is always a pleasure to read your posts. Thought provoking and inspiring. I am glad so many are looking beyond Dec. 12 and to what may come in future offerings
    from Taylor – as more time allows him the ability to explore as many avenues of creativity as he desires.

  49. Claireb7tx says:

    Ganbatte Taylor!

    Basenji, great read, really enjoyed it! Thanks for your thoughful perspective on that talented man we have all come to know and love… TAYLOR HICKS.

  50. krusty says:

    Excellent job Basenji, excellent! I’m so proud you’re part of our Boogie family.

    I would love to hear Taylor’s reaction to this article. I’m sure he’ll get wind of it!

  51. Soulkaren says:

    I am blown away!

    Basenji, it is an honor to have you here in our Boogie family!

    That qualifies for a doctorate thesis, and I agree that Taylor would be amazed and touched that you ‘get him’ on such a deep level.

    Well Done!

  52. Lee says:

    Basenji, as always, it’s and honor to read your article…you have a special gift.
    I hope Taylor gets the opportunity to read your articles and stories.

    Taylor will be taking us by the hand to join him on his ” Mystic Musical Tour” for a long time.

    Laissez les bon temps roulle!

  53. Orca says:

    Basenji, you are such an amazing writer. This latest offering is already in my vault.

    That “we will be treated to more profound pleasures”, I have no doubt.

    Ganbatte.

  54. Legacy says:

    Basenji,

    Loved this….. so well thought out ….. so well written…..

    in Navy wife terms…. Good on You.

  55. babynco says:

    Basenji,

    You rawk my world girl. I for one am going to just sit back and prepare myself to be taken on one helluva ride. I will enjoy every moment of growth and experimentation and I am looking forward to being around here with all of you for many years to come.

    Ganbatte…

  56. deejay says:

    Thanks for this, Basenji. Thanks also, Ash, for posting it up front. But I don’t want to forget the old year. Can I celebrate this really fun past year and also toast to the future at the same time? Ganbette, indeed.

  57. patti says:

    A “Forget the Old Year” party is just what I need.

    Thank you for your writing, Basenji. I would like to
    read your blog if you have one.

    Your approach to writing about Taylor makes me more
    aware of the reason I was captured by the music of a Gray haired
    southern man,

    even though I never watched American Idol.

    My greatest concern was that he would be merely derivative with his new release, and not “canonical” as you write.

    I look forward to something new from Taylor, and hope for great things.

  58. beachn says:

    Basenji,

    My birthday is in December too. Now I missed it… where and when is the par-tay???????

  59. Share_A_Smile says:

    Thanks Basenji, excellent, first class article, very well done. One of the best I’ve ever read, and I’ve probably read them all. I too, really liked Taylor’s venture into rap music on “Naked In The Jungle” and his guest appearance with Snoop Dogg (if you couldn’t tell from my avi, if you’ve ever noticed it). I’m really excited about what the next year and the next Taylor CD will bring as I understand this album was made with far too many time constraints. Anyway, great article with some excellent points for us to ponder when looking forward to the New Year. This is “one for the vault”, for sure.

    Share_A_Smile

  60. double d says:

    Very well put, as usual, Basenji.

    I think that you are spot on regarding your assessment of Taylor utilizing the past artists and respect for those artists, but not being a “mimick” of those artists. By infusing his own intrepretation and style to fundamentally great music, Taylor can set himself apart from some of today’s “bubblegum”.

    He’s not trying to be different. Someone’s not trying to MAKE him look different….he just IS different….yet eerily familiar.

    That, combined with his willingness to take on and perform any music that he “feels”, opens up a Pandora’s Box of opportunity to be accepted in many genres.

  61. Linda T. says:

    Taylor needs to get his butt over here to the Boogie and read this essay. Ash, any way you can convince GC to let Taylor know he needs to see this gem? I’d email him myself if I thought it would do any good. Its definitely going in my “vault”.

    Bravo, Basenji!!!

  62. TTT says:

    Ganbatte Taylor! And to you too Basenji. This written, only in the true “Basenji Style” will go in my vault. You are an artist in your own right my dear. Thank you.

  63. JaxNative says:

    Excellent!

    I look forward to Taylor’s future, while I don’t really agree that he is changing.. I prefer the word polishing. He has been polishing this talent for many years.

    I am not a fan of rap .. although I enjoyed Taylor’s harp with Snoop. I am a fan of Taylor’s singing. I love the growls, rasps, falsettos and the pure beauty of his voice when he sings. Somehow is my absolute favorite song of his. I am a fan of his performing style.. the dancing, the whirling, the pure exuberance of his heart. He knows when to dance and he knows when to just sit/stand there quietly. His harp? He continues to amaze me and I thought I was too old to be amazed.

    So do we love the “old” Taylor or the “new” Taylor? To me they are one in the same .. We who have been here since the beginning of this wonderful ride should note that he hasn’t changed, he just now has the opportunity to present his work in a fashion he has dreamed about for years.

    As I said, excellent Basenji! Navy wives surely do rock!

  64. SoulForever says:

    Thanks Basenji,
    “Do Your Best and Persevere” is a worthy phrase for all of us. I enjoyed your article very much although I admit some of it went over my head. I agree with this statement completely:

    “That performance is a very encouraging indicator of how he will approach writing his new songs. I’m excited to hear an album full of originals on which he had the time and the resources to explore his current musical inspirations. That will come. But for now, the golden cover songs are our new best friends.”

    I am one who never questioned the inclusion of cover songs because I knew that they would be Taylor’s version and I would enjoy them. His original works will come and I’ll enjoy them also.

    I may miss the “old familar Taylor” but I welcome and encourage Taylor to push the limits to express himself and show us what he’s can do.

  65. hdey says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful and beautifully written post. I truly enjoyed reading it.
    I think that fan support of the debut album is critical to creating an environment that will allow Taylor the time to grow his music. I have preordered for myself, (and for a few others).

  66. Crazymomelon says:

    That was a great read, Basenji. Thank you.

    Ganbatte, Taylor! Can’t wait to see the future unfold.

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