Sharing thoughts about Taylor Hicks and concert travels and other musical musings!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The High Cost of Fame


I’ve often thought about what the cost of fame entails. Of course, there are the usual obvious things that come with fame. Invitations to charity functions, TV spots, awards shows, talk show circuit. Maybe even a chance to play a few rounds of golf with pros and celebrities. That’s all fun and exciting, but what’s the real cost of fame?

I’ve watched a number of interviews with my favorite American Idol, Taylor Hicks. He gets asked all sorts of questions – from advice to this year’s contestants to whether he has someone special in his life. These questions, along with their answers, make great chat room and fan message board fodder. But how does all of this affect Taylor, really affect this guy?

Prior to AI, Taylor was just another musician playing in local clubs and bars, maybe even a dinner session from time to time. Maybe a table of six or several tables giving him a larger audience. Perhaps no one was really listening. The crowds were probably small, but it didn’t matter. He’d play his heart out to whoever was there to listen. Taylor was in his element. The stage was his world. Here he could open up and give everything he had. Afterwards, he could walk down the street and maybe get a friendly wave or smile.

Taylor has talked of being shy and reserved. That I believe. Watch American Idol footage during the auditions and you see a young man sitting alone. Perhaps his choice. Perhaps no one believed he would make it. Here Taylor was just another contestant, waiting and wanting his voice heard. And within just a few weeks, Taylor’s whole world was about change. When he chose Sam Cooke’s, A Change is Gonna Come, I doubt Taylor or anyone else realized just what kind of impact Taylor was about to have. No truer song was sung by anyone during those audition days.

With AI, Taylor was becoming known. When he returned home during the show, he was met by 15,000 fans! Even Taylor, himself, had said he had no idea of his impact, even in Birmingham, the town where he grew up and played his heart out. The high cost of fame was about to become known to him. Taylor was about to find out he could never really go home again. Even going home for Father’s Day and Center Stage required that Taylor stay in an undisclosed hotel. Family and friends would have to come to him.

After the show and obligatory summer tour, Taylor returned to Los Angeles to make his first major album. LA is probably a place a famous person can get lost in. Celebrities are everywhere, so sightings go unnoticed, except for the paparazzi. It’s easy to have more privacy there. Given the photographs that have shown up and the lack of tabloid gossip about Taylor, I’d say LA just might have a new permanent resident.

So back to my original topic – the high cost of fame. It’s not what one might expect. It’s not the celebrity status – it’s the loss of privacy. Everyone wants a piece of you, to know what you are doing, to know who you are with, when you brush your teeth, what you sleep in, when you get a ticket for DUI, that sort of stuff. On The Official Soul Patrol boards we’ve discussed everything from potential girlfriends, “luscious chest hair”, shoe size, boxer or briefs, even trying to determine the brand of underwear that was captured on film during Taylor’s tour performances! Talk about a loss of privacy – nothing was sacred!

Yes, the true high cost of fame is the loss of privacy. Wherever Taylor goes he’s recognized. Hiding under a ball cap won’t last for long. With his height and gray mane, Taylor is easily recognized. It’s not all bad, though. His fame will open doors and get him into places he couldn’t have gotten into a year ago. But when he wants to go home, it just may not be possible. It’s definitely the loss of privacy that one gives up in exchange for celebrity status.

For a guy who’s shy and reserved, will losing his privacy be worth it? As a fan of Taylor’s musical and performance style, I certainly hope so. He’s having fun right now and enjoying every moment (at least he says he is). He’s trying to stay humble and grounded and not “act like a celebrity”. Taylor may just be able to have it all, and remain Taylor, but without the privacy he once had.

So Taylor, if you are reading this, would you mind telling me what brand of soap you shower with?

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