Written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weill, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller, the song was recorded by the Drifters in sixties and later featured in the Broadway musical, “Smokey Joe’s Café”. And now Taylor Hicks has recorded his own version of the song, which at the time meant something special to him, but today has probably taken on a whole new meaning!
Here are the lyrics to that great song:
They say the neon lights are bright (On Broadway)
I'm gonna make it, yeah (On Broadway)
So I’m thinking about these lyrics and how Taylor Hicks must have viewed them at the time. While I can’t speak for Taylor, and have no idea whether I’m even close to the truth, I thought I would give my take on it anyway.
Broadway is known for the bright lights that decorate the various theatres that have made their mark over the years with great plays, musicals and other performances. For an artist to see his name on the marquee as the head lining star must have been a dream come true – meaning one had finally made it in a town that’s flooded with thousands of others also looking to make their mark on Broadway.
At the time Taylor Hicks recorded this song, it was late 2005, probably just before giving an audition on American Idol any thought. Certainly well-fed but perhaps having little extra cash, he was feeling those words of ‘all you got is one thin dime’. After all, when at the Las Vegas audition, Taylor was quoted as saying he was a ‘broke musician’.
While I’m certain that Taylor Hicks didn’t arrive in New York City on a Greyhound bus, I’m equally certain that he won’t be leaving there on one either! Taylor may not be playing a guitar in his Broadway début, but he sure is giving it a go with his trusty harmonica. And from what I’ve seen and read, those "Grease" audiences are really enjoying it! The guy sitting next to me when I went was really impressed by what he heard when he made his comments to his companion!
Whether he lasts too long, who can say, but a three month stint as Teen Angel in "Grease" is nothing to sneeze at – it’s a great role for Taylor, and allows him the opportunity to get his feet wet on Broadway while garnering new fans at the same time. The critics have run the gamut, much as one would expect, but my favorite reviews are the ones that give kudos for his ability to put it out there and give a performance that delights the audience.
So now that Taylor Hicks has made his mark on Broadway, there one line I hope he never takes to heart: “I won’t quit till I’m a star”. His fans want to enjoy his music and talent for years to come, myself included.
Oh, and the title of that CD, “Under the Radar”, Taylor is anything BUT under the radar for those who have followed his career and love his music! Taylor Hicks will be releasing his “Early Works” CD on August 12 which I’m hoping will carry his version of “On Broadway”.
Check out Taylor Hicks as Teen Angel in "Grease", 8 performances each week (the theatre is dark on Mondays), at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, http://www.brooksatkinsontheater.com/, from June 6 through September 7, 2008.
ETA: Someone kindly pointed out to me that the CD in question was actually "In Your Time" which was recorded in 1997, which makes the song all that more special! How much more insightful was Taylor Hicks back then we may never know, but this makes the song all the more special! That's what I get for listening to nothing but Taylor Hicks - I can't even keep the CDs straight any more! Mea culpa!