In his recent interview with PBS Kids, It’s My Life, Taylor Hicks shares how he held onto his dreams, even when it didn’t seem possible. His philosophy was simply stated that “life throws many curve balls, and if you don’t swing, you’re never going to hit any.” While a simple statement, I found it rather profound. Perhaps because Taylor said it, or because of what he said in the rest of the interview.
Taylor obviously had a rather difficult childhood. His mother was reportedly an alcoholic. His parents divorced when he was eight. He moved around a lot. And then he attended four different schools when he was in the fourth grade. That’s quite a lot for anyone to go through in just a few years, much less at such a tender age. Taylor says he turned to music to find solace.
It seems Taylor also may have matured much earlier than his peers. He was taller than other boys his age (according pictures of his early youth) and his hair started graying when he was between 12 to 14 year old. Taylor, himself, said he was the victim of bullying. I picture him a tall thin boy who was painfully shy and often picked on by others. He stated in this interview that he used goofiness as means of coping with the stresses of adolescence.
So how does all of this make Taylor what he is today, the soulful humble man that he seems to be? I’m no child psychologist; I’d say he had to have someone close to him who was a strong influence. Perhaps it was Miss Joni, his paternal grandmother. Maybe it was his father, Dr. Brad, with whom Taylor seems to have a close relationship. We all probably had experiences growing up where children around us were unnecessarily mean or cruel – so cruel that emotional scars can still be felt.
Whatever the reasons, I can hear it in his music, in the soulful yet insightful lyrics and melodies of the songs he sings. Even his debut single, “Do I Make You Proud” begs for acceptance. The lyrics of “Gonna Move”, both on his first major album and a song he’s performed live with Little Memphis Blues Orchestra, his former band mates, talks of needing to move to grow up and find one’s way in the world. As with, “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)”, the wanderer has no real established home, which is much like Taylor is right now, a man without a permanent address – one who lives on the road.
I’ve noticed, and also read others’ accounts, that Taylor appears to have two separate and distinct personalities. This is not a bad thing, really. I’ve found that this often happens with very talented people. In private, he seems to be shy and reserved. Watch Taylor as he signs autographs or poses for pictures – he’s very focused. Sometimes he even seems to tune out what’s around him because he is so focused. I was lucky enough to meet Taylor several times, and each time he was reserved yet focused, with a bit of shyness mixed in.
But put Taylor on a stage with a live band, now that’s a show to behold! Those dance moves are enough to leave a chiropractor rubbing his hands together because he’s thinking about the fees he’s about to collect! The energy and passion exude from all of his pores as Taylor belts out song after song, giving each performance 200%. Taylor says it all about the music, and I believe that. The stage is Taylor’s lifeline, his way to express himself, a chance to dream, a chance to make others happy, a chance to control his destiny.
I think that’s what I saw the first time I saw Taylor, that fateful Las Vegas audition for American Idol. Thank goodness Randy and Paula saw the potential. I think Simon saw something too, but it scared him and he didn’t know what to do with Taylor. Here was a young man with a voice that needed to be heard, a voice that deserved to be heard. Taylor was a young man that would melt our hearts and turn us into “a traveling circus of fans”. A man who would be the object of affection for so many fawning, thudding women with no age barriers who would form new friendships with total strangers on the internet fan boards. With Taylor’s audition, the sisterhood and brotherhood of the Soul Patrol was born.
Yes, life really does throw us curve balls. It’s what we do that makes the real difference. Swing that bat, folks, because if we do it often enough, we’re going to hit the ball, whether it's a fly ball or knocked out of the ballpark. As the American Idol Season 5 winner, Taylor definitely knocked it out of the ballpark! I’ve been swinging at the curve balls in my own life, and I’ve hit a few! One such hit was finding this website, The Official Soul Patrol, that I call “home” and all the new friends I’ve made here along with the opportunity of writing this blog!
So the next time life throws you a curve ball, take a swing at it. Taylor did, and look what he has accomplished in the past year. If you do, who knows, you might be the next…..