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

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Travleing Circus Finds Its 'Home in Alabama'


After a full day Saturday, the girls and I decided to sleep in. I needed to recap Saturday night for my blog and download pictures from my camera. By 3:30 we were hunting for Dreamland Bar-B-Que, a favorite of Taylor’s. I had a combination of ribs and chopped pork. It was good, quite tasty, but being from Memphis, well…..

We arrive at the Alabama Theatre about 30 minutes before the doors were to open. Actually, it seems like the doors were opened earlier tonight. We chatted with old friends and met some new ones. It was likes a ‘who’s who’ of the Soul Patrol meeting. Soon we found our seats and waited for the show to start.

Again, this would be an evening of pure Taylor! No opening act again tonight! I had a dead center seat on the second row! What a view I was going to have!

Taylor took the stage making like he was an airplane flying around the stage going in front and behind the rest of the musicians. This was a 30 year old man having fun with his music! And I was loving every second of it! Once he stopped “flying”, Taylor sang “Taking It to the Streets”. How appropriate to open the show this way – he was definitely taking his music wherever it would go – theatre, streets, bars – you name it!

At the end of each song, Taylor would chug his bottled water. I counted three bottles in front of the drums. He was prepared to sweat and drink! He moved from song to song, singing “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, “Compared to What”, “Wherever I Lay My Hat”, “The Deal’, “Give Me Tonight”, “Just to Feel That Way” and “Going Mobile” before taking a break.

You could feel the energy tonight. Taylor had evidently gotten plenty of sleep Saturday night, because he was ready to out run the energizer bunny! Taylor was perpetual motion, bouncing, twirling, spinning, jumping, dancing, etc. It was boundless joyful energy that filled the auditorium and infected the audience.

They were up on their feet most of the night. Some were singing right along with Taylor. Others were shouting and whooing at the same time. There were squeals of joy and excitement everywhere.

Sunday’s show was going to have an intermission so the audience could make donations to the American Red Cross for recent storm damage in Alabama and Georgia. I really expected the volunteers to come into the audience with buckets to collect donations but that didn’t happen. The break lasted about 15 minutes and gave us time to visit, chat and compare thoughts on the show.

Taylor started the second half of the show with “Gonna Move” and then did “Dream Myself Awake”, “Naked in the Jungle”, “Soul Thing”, “The Right Place” and “Take the Long Way Home”.

Now when Taylor sang “Naked in the Jungle”, the females went wild! This song was an old standard of Taylor’s before American Idol. And he was giving it back to his Birmingham hometown fans!

Another crowd favorite is “Soul Thing”, written by Taylor. Writing is another of his many talents. As the song ended Taylor ran back to Brian’s organ and began to play the upper notes! Brian held up the mike and both hands to let us know it was Taylor, and Taylor alone, that was playing! Brian was pointing to Taylor and both were grinning from ear to ear! What a show! Taylor playing the organ! What would be next!

Before performing “Take the Long Way Home”, Taylor talked about getting his first harmonica at a local flea market and how his friend reminded him he didn’t know where it had been! Taylor was doing a bit of standup comedy and getting lots of laughs! He made some other comments that I really couldn’t make out, but something like ‘it must have been ok!’ The song was performed in true Taylor style with an unexpected ending. As he played the harp on the end of the song, he walked off to the darkened part of the stage. The harp sounded like the wailing of a train going down the tracks as it left the station. What an ending!

The usual end of the show fake out took place. As the band returned to the stage, the Homewood High School Drum Corps began playing the drum beat as they walked down the aisle toward the stage. When they were all on the stage, Taylor joined them to sing “The Runaround”. This was an incredible encore! Taylor was so energized and the smile on face told us he was very happy!

The drum corps left the stage and a stool was brought out and put in the center of the stage. Taylor came out strapping on his guitar. Taking a seat on the stool, he would provide his own accompaniment on the guitar. Gently strumming and plucking the strings, Taylor sang “My Home’s In Alabama” in a soft yet meaningful way.

I wasn’t dry-eyed nor were many of those around me. I could see through the viewers of cameras around me that Taylor had what looked like tears streaming down his face. It might have been sweat, but I don’t think so! Many sang along with Taylor, even amidst the tears. The emotion had peaked for everyone, and it was time to move on. When he finished the song, Taylor quietly left the stage.

Another show had ended and it was time to pack up the equipment and buses. We left the theatre and went around the corner to where the buses were parked and waited. And waited. And waited. As we waited outside, many of us discussed what we had just witnessed. Even thinking about the show brought on more tears! But who cared! We had been stroked and strummed by the blue-eyed soul man. We had been Taylorized. We were satisfied.

Our wait paid off because Taylor came up to where we were standing. He signed autographs and we could get pictures of him, but not with him. I was able to tell Taylor that he had given us a fabulous and incredible show. He only had to say ‘thank you’ for me to know the gratitude he was feeling.

As I think about the words to the song, I can hear the similarities to Taylor’s life. I’m taking artistic liberty by copying the words from DidNotExpectThat’s recap of the show. The version of the song I’m familiar with was done by the country music group, Alabama.

Drinkin' was forbidden in my Christian country home
I learned to play the flattop on them good ol' Gospel songs
Then I heard about the barrooms just across the Georgia line
Where a boy could make a livin' playin' guitar late at night
Had to learn about the ladies, too young to understand
Why the young girls fall in love with the boys in the band
When the boys turn to music, the girls just turn away
To some other guitar picker in some other late night place

Yeah, held on to my music, I let the ladies walk away
Took my songs and dreams to Nashville then I moved on to L.A.
Up to New York City all across the USA
I lost so much of me but there's enough of me to say that my

Home's in Alabama, no matter where I lay my head
My home's in Alabama, Southern born and Southern bred

What keeps me goin' I don't really know
Can't be the money Lord knows I'm always broke
Could it be the satisfaction of bein' understood
When the people really love ya and let you know when it's good

Oh I'll speak my Southern English just as natural as I please
I'm in the heart of Dixie, Dixie's in the heart of me
And someday when I make it, when love finds a way
Somewhere high on Lookout Mountain I'll just smile with pride and say that my

Home's in Alabama, no matter where I lay my head
My home's in Alabama, Southern born and Southern bred
Southern born and Southern bred
Southern born and Southern bred

And my home's in Alabama, no matter where I lay my head
My home's in Alabama, Southern born and Southern bred
Southern born and Southern bred
Southern born and Southern bred

As I listened to Taylor sing the final number, I could hear him saying good-bye to his home in Birmingham. I’ve heard that he has decided to make LA home for work reasons. That saddens me because LA is a rough town for celebrities where they can lose themselves or be hounded by the paparazzi. Maybe in time he will be able to return to his southern roots.

What keeps me goin' I don't really know
Can't be the money Lord knows I'm always broke
Could it be the satisfaction of bein' understood
When the people really love ya and let you know when it's good

Yes, Taylor, we know it’s all good and our votes for you proved that. You deserved to have your voice heard and win. You are your own person and you know what you enjoy musically. You have talent, even undiscovered talent perhaps. You show potential to be a musical genius. And yes, you are understood – the Soul Patrol gets it! We get you!
You came home for the week-end and you gave us your best. You pulled out all the stops for us, your hometown and fans. There will never be another show like this in another city or venue. You reserved this solely for Birmingham. It was like the American Idol tour last summer when you took the stage in the purple velvet smoking jacket.

And my home's in Alabama, no matter where I lay my head
My home's in Alabama, Southern born and Southern bred
Southern born and Southern bred
Southern born and Southern bred

The traveling circus found its home in Birmingham this week-end. We had a great time with other members of the Soul Patrol, meeting and greeting each other. It was all good as Taylor often says.

Good night, sweet soul man. You’ve earned a rest. Until we meet again….

Pictures from Sunday Night

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