Category Archives: gray charles

A Trip Around the Sun

Hard to believe it but it’s been a year since I took the fateful leap into bloggerland.

With this historic post, my life took a decided turn for the better.  I’ve found a great creative outlet that allows me to enjoy the thoughts of others while vomiting out my own.  My life has been enriched by your support to pursue the things that I really enjoy and to explore more music.

Thanks to all of you who read and comment and to those who just read.  While I invite you to comment, I understand if you don’t.  To those of you who have been here since the beginning (and you know who you are), I want to particularly thank you for your loyalty and friendship.  Of course, I’d like to thank that somebody who showed us how it’s done.  For without that brave soul, hundreds of tiny, unnoticed blogs would not have proliferated; freeing the captives.  (I keed.  I keed.)

Hopefully, I’ll have some more time soon to get into some discussions I’ve been noodling on in my big ole head.  Funny thing about finding a job that you really like…you end up spending a lot of time doing it.  However, I’m trying to carve out my moments of blog time and ideas but it’s like my swearing to get organized.  Mr. D. says that I just need to break down and admit that it’s just not going to happen.  This is how he sees me in terms of my projects and work, etc.


I’ve gotten better and this blog, in particular, keeps me somewhat focused.  Just don’t throw any shiny objects in front of me and I’m pretty much o.k.

I think that music is God’s way of providing a Rosetta Stone for folks to feel common emotions and to kun-NECK, you know, soothe the savage beast.  For the life of me, I am flabbergasted when someone tells me that they don’t really listen to music or they don’t know a watershed tune like We Can Work it Out or Hallejuah.  That’s why I feel that Music Maven’s purpose is to educate, discuss and advance music and artists of interest.  Bridge generations, genders, race and creed via the love of music.

I must say, however, that the best explanation of music that truly resonated with me came from some guy that happened to capture my attention a few years ago:

It’s music, man.  If music’s in your heart, you feel it, you play it, you sing it, you perform it, you bust your buns doin’ it.  And, that’s what it’s all about….



Hallelujah….What do it mean?

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby, I’ve been here before.
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor.
I used to live alone before I knew you.

Yeah I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch,
But listen, love is not some kind of victory march,
No it’s a cold and it’s a very broken Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, (Hallelujah…)

There was a time you let me know
What’s really going on below,
Ah but now you never show it to me, do you?

Yeah but I remember, yeah when I moved in you,
And the holy dove, she was moving too,
Yes every single breath that we drew was Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Maybe there’s a God above,
As for me, all I’ve ever seemed to learn from love
Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.

Yeah but it’s not a complaint that you hear tonight,
It’s not the laughter of someone who claims to have seen the light
No it’s a cold and it’s a very lonely Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

I did my best, it wasn’t much.
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch.
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come all this way to fool you.

Yeah even tough it all went wrong
I’ll stand right here before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

This Leonard Cohen song has garnered much attention regarding the meaning of the song since it was first introduced. While there are several bible references, they’re not all from the same “story”. I’m interested in everyone’s personal interpretation of these lyrics. Is it about the parallels of David’s struggles before God? Is it just using familiar understanding to tell a more personal story? Is it about a relationship?

You tell me. Here are a few discussion guides that might give you some fodder for your gray matter to contemplate.

Gray Charles discussion of Hallelujah.

Here are Leonard Cohen’s comments about the song.

And, here are every version of Hallelujah that I could locate (thanks to Gray’s direck-shun to My Old Kentucky Blog):

Smörgåsbord of Hallelujah

Lastly, these are the ones that interest me the most.

The Writer Leonard Cohen

The Definitive Jeff Buckley

The Classic John Cale with cello & violin

The Legend Bob Dylan

The Movie Rufus Wainwright

The Chicks Allison Crowe

sheryl crow

Imogen Heap

The Modern Gavin Degraw

The Adaptive Rocker Bon Jovi

This is your assignment, if you choose to accept it. Tell me, in 200 words or less, what this songs means to you.


Get your mojo on


I was reminiscing and perusing the archives over at Gray Charles and began re-reading the wonderful multi-part interview with Taylor Hicks in the Summer of ’06, shortly after he won American Idol. In Part 2 of the interview, Taylor says:

I’ve been doing this all my life. People have been wondering about me for a long time. Hell man, people have been watching me for a long time, studying me and observing me, even when I was 15 or 16 years old. You get good at being observed. I hired a sideman when I was 17 years old. A guitar player named Billy Earl McClelland who was Delbert Clinton’s odl guitar player. We worked together when I was at Auburn, he told him that I was a natural entertainer and I shouldn’t worry about putting on a show. I should just be the person I was and that was entertainment enough. I had never thought about it that way until he told me that. I was able to loosen up and just by me.

After I got over Gray’s atrocious very few and intellectually insignificant spelling errors and word-o’s (due to rushing to get all the scoop to everyone), not to mention the fact that it’s Delbert MCClinton, this made me ponder. On one hand, there’s this image of Taylor Hicks that’s the guy who hit the lottery and is a greenhorn at all of this. However, when you go back to this interview, you’ll find that there’s a definite “experience” to the young man. Over the past six months or so, I began to think that maybe Taylor was a novice, in over his head, not ready for prime time. I then decided to delve into this side man, Billy Earl McClelland a little further.


Billy Earl McClelland is not a young man. Hell, he was in his mid-40’s when he worked with Taylor way back in those early Auburn days. He’s now 57 and extremely proud of his protege’. Perhaps Taylor’s new found success motivated Billy Earl to give music one more shot.

Now, Billy Earl McClelland is not light weight. He’s enjoyed a very impressive career as a songwriter and session musician in Nashville for greats like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hank Williams, Jr., Sawyer Brown and of course, Delbert McClinton. He was also a member of the staff band at The Sound Pit in Atlanta where they provided back-up for Olivia Newton-John, Paul McCartney & Wings, and the Divine Ms. M, Bette Midler.

He ended up in Delbert’s band and for a while was Tanya Tucker’s bandleader and lead guitarist. He toured with Bo Diddley, Albert Collins, the Atlanta Rhythm Section and The Allman Brothers. He even did some time as a regular in The Dixie Flyers who were mainstays at the FloraBama for years.

From the mojo:saint website:

McClelland has stayed involved writing songs and recording in his personal studio. He has been jamming with his friend Steven Seagal in Memphis and acting like a proud papa for his close friend Taylor Hicks’ American Idol success.

Point is, this guy has been a major player in Country and Blues for a very long time. So, what possessed him in 1993 to become the side man for a young punk not even of legal age. There must have been something that he saw that was “special” in the young man. While he didn’t stay with Taylor for the entire 10-year journey, it’s evident that he did teach and advise Taylor and I’m sure that he shared his music business experiences. All of this said, my brief research into Billy Earl McClelland affirms to me that Taylor isn’t just off the turnip truck and likely does have a method to his madness. As I first suspected, if left to his own devices, he’ll be just fine.

And, as for Billy Earl — just where did he go after that time spent with young Taylor Hicks?

Well, McClelland does seem to relish in the mentor role as he ended up producing the first two CDs for Big Bill Morganfield, the son of Muddy Waters. He has also produced a couple of CD compilations of Alabama Blues Artists.

However, recently, Billy Earl is back performing and you’ll never guess with who. Try Jack Hall. Yes, that Jack Hall….the bass player from Wet Willie. When I found this I about flipped. Jack Hall is a superb musician and it’s so great to see him back playing music again. These two have teamed up with drummer, David Brazeal, to form Mojo:Saint, a down and dirty blues/rock band.


Jack Hall, David Brazeal, Billy Earl McClelland

Here are some live performances from YouTube:


They Don’t Make the Blues Like They Used To

Hot Guitar Licks

Just to tie it all in, here’s Jack Hall and his brother, Jimmy, at a Wet Willie get together:


It’s such a treat to see these guys together, playing music. From the calendar on their website, it looks like they’re touring the tri-state area of Georgia, Alabama and Florida and they are scheduled for a Mobile show at The Blues Tavern in mid-December. While I may not be able to dance yet, I can certainly show up and enjoy this delightful treat.

As for the Taylor kun-NECK-shuns, I can’t help but think that there are some deep, deep roots in blues and southern rock that will begin to manifest in Taylor’s music. I’d love to see him hook up with the old schoolers like Billy Earl and Jack Hall and get back to basics. I’d love to see him recording at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals. How about a live cut from the FloraBama? However, the lights of fame in L.A. and New York burn brighter than the candles of the turf he knows like the back of his hand, me thinks. Yet, this weekend, he’s back in Alabama to perform with the Auburn Marching Band at the half-time of the Auburn/Mississippi St. game (11:30am, CDT). So, who knows? Maybe the Yabba Dabba Soul Patrol Mojo Carpet Bomb Coast-to-Coast Dive Tour has a shot, albeit a very slim one.

If you’re out and about Phenix City this Saturday Night, you might want to drop in at The Broad St. Blues Club and catch mojo:saint. Billy Earl and Jack will, no doubt, be burning it up. For the record, the club is 34 miles from Auburn….you just never know who might be looking for an old friend.

By the way, I have it on good authority that Taylor’s been listening to bagpipes this week.


Posted by on September 13, 2007 in blues, gray charles, Taylor, taylor hicks


You Can Lead a Horse to Water….Grace Potter

Once again, Poo Poo Broussard:

Conjures up the efforts of an obsessed friend who can’t get enough of Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, and keeps dragging the proverbial horse to water. Now, I LIKE Grace. Don’t love her, but like her. Rather than try to inadequately describe Grace and get admonished for a deficient presentation of Grace and all of her wiles, I refer you to the great, Gray Charles’ “one time only” post — for the love of Grace.

It appears that he may have evolved into Grace Charles. Now, most of you know I’m just a wee bit jaded and cynical from slaving away on this earth for nearly 43 years, so you’ll understand the context of my snarkiness concerning this:

Hyrid Cars are Sexy

Ahhhh, the idealism of youth. I really want to see that bio-deisel tour bus, especially since it’ll cost her three times more to run and maintain it.

Well, if Grace does STICK TO SINGING, she may well be on her way. Regardless, Gray Charles has only steered me musically astray once, (**cough**Angela McCluskey**cough**). So for him…I ask you to give Grace her due. I’ve purchased a few tracks and she fits in nicely on my New Music Chicks playlist, along with Feist, Sara Barielles and Colbie Caillat.

So, please check out her stuff at Gray’s and consider purchasing her songs via iTunes, if possible — so that we contribute to saving the environment by utilizing electronic media rather than non-biodegradable CDs and cases. If iTunes isn’t your preference, buy from Fred…he’s a good guy.


Dancing Queen….Bjorn Again

ETA2: Huck is right….THIS is what needs to be done on AI next week. Taylor, bring ’em to their knees.

Sorry, that line was too good not to use.

The Abba Tribute Band

captured by Wildrosegirl76 in Seattle — last stop on the tour.

Yes, you certainly make us proud……BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Taylor receives 50 MERITS for this.

To quote a wise gentleman, “If I have to explain it, it just ain’t as funny.” But for those of you who don’t “get it”….context.

Don’t forget to watch Leno tonight….

Maybe you’ll catch something like this…..

Thanks for sharing, Gray.

ETA: Nice footage of Hold Onto Your Love in Seattle, attributable to Catchthatgroove.


Posted by on May 14, 2007 in gray charles, Taylor, Uncategorized


Taylor Time…Passion is No Ordinary Word

Simpler time….


Rather than try to wax poetic, I’ll just come out with it. I’m sad. And, I’m disappointed.

Many of my friends and I who have followed Taylor Hicks over the last year’s incredible voyage knew that the “official” Taylor blog of was going away. It’s been a couple of weeks since Gray made the announcement and we’ve all been going through a little withdrawal. Our little community of snarkiness, musical awareness and sharing was riding off into the proverbial sunset. Then, this weekend, on a back page tucked away where not many could find it was one last thread. Some really great discussion began that was, in a round about way, about passion. About caring.

So, today’s post is about passion. Holding on to what you love to do while satisfying your responsibilities is tough stuff. Perhaps it’s fairly new to someone thrust into the spotlight who’s never had to really account for anything to anyone before. As the re-hash of good and bad went on in this tucked away thread, I thought of when I knew I really liked Taylor Hicks’ music, for the first time. It came to me rather quickly….it was after doing a little research into the mp3 library at and finding songs from the In Your Time CD and hearing On Broadway for the first time.″ On BroadwayIn Your Time

At first, the squeaking of the guitar strings aggravated me, then I came to love that sound. It was “real”, pure and passionate. THAT, is what I like about Taylor Hicks. While I think that Taylor needs some marketing help and to pay attention to some of his business ventures, the stage is definitely not the place that he’s lacking passion. Problem is, that even though “it’s all about the music”, sometimes it’s all about the music business and you simply have to pay attention to it.

Now, to Gray. Some petty people took it upon themselves to try to ruin the last few breaths of Sadly, jealousy causes people to do very mean things and to hurt people without provocation. I’m sorry that it happened that way and I’m sorry that my friend was hurt by it. However, he must never lose sight of the fact that HE built something that was unique and good and helpful and passionate. The people who participated were passionate. The artist and other artists we talked about were all passionate. And, the music was passionate. We followed the lead.

I am reminded of a favorite quote that addresses passion:

A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position. — John Maxwell

Maybe that’s what is meant by Graham Parker in Passion is No Ordinary Word….

It worked much better in a fantasy, imagination’s one thing that comes easy
to me
‘Cause this is nothing else if not unreal, when I pretend to touch you, you
pretend to feel
Passion is no ordinary word
Ain’t manufactured or just another sound that you hear at night

We got new idols for the screen today, although they make a lot of noises
they got nothing to say
I try to look amazed, but it’s an act, the movie might be new but it’s the
same soundtrack
Passion is no ordinary word

Say how it feels, real useless ain’t it
Wait until it bites right down inside you
The world is easy when you’re just playing around
Everything’s a thrill, every girl’s a kill
And then it gets unreal
And then you don’t feel anything
You don’t feel anything

An object of desire you don’t desire to be, I bet the shop window dummies
give in just as easily
I try to top but have to make you drop down to the floor
Moaning in the darkness as we fake some more
Passion is no ordinary word
Not just another sound that you hear at night

So, it’s done. For many of us, nothing will sully the fun, friends, entertainment and education we received from a internet site dedicated to a wannabe American Idol — the frog that turned into a prince. All of the “Wayne Newton’s” have been said and the accolades given. Time to move on to a different passion.









Posted by on April 16, 2007 in gray charles, Taylor, taylor hicks


Whiter Shade of Gray….



The wizard. The man behind the curtain.

On the last day of January of ’06 a little blog took its first big breath with the audition clip of an American Idol hopeful that had piqued interest around the country with his gray hair and booming soulful voice.

The blog (not the man) got bigger and bigger, attracting new “readers” and posters each day. Through the fretful journey of the American Idol Season 5, there were vast discussions on “Artists with Soul” like Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee, Cat Power, Jamie Lidell, Eva Cassidy and James Morrison. Fantastic (yet respectful) debates on Monkey vs. Robot, Selling Out, Tipping Points, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory analogies. Naturally, there were also discussions on song choices, wardrobes, hairstyles and AI manipulations. More than 50 people in chat on “performance night”, who’d a thunk that?

Then, the confetti falls on the right dude. Righteous exuberance abound. Like proud parents we watched “our boy” make it…to Leno, GMA, Today Show, and Ellen. But what made him tick? Who was this guy, really? Well, our omnipresent man behind the curtain found out for us. An EIGHT PART interview with the new American Idol. And what an interview it was.

Then, in the middle of the celebration….FINITO!…..gone like the wind. Gut kicked. After a long summer of deafening silence, the blog (and the man) were back. This time, “official”. While certainly a “win” for the man, maybe not so much for the blog. Different time, different people, different tone. Like that over-used “brief shining moment that was Camelot”, it’s hard to re-create something that was organic and unplanned, yet ends up fabulous for a short time and in a small space.

So, after much consternation, we arrive at FINITO, Part Deux. While certainly saddened at the prospect of losing the “water cooler” where so many great conversations were held, this time it’s less sorrowful and feelings of gratification and appreciation are paramount. This time, it feels right.

A week ago, after realizing that it was only a matter of time until all of the artful dodging and internet gymnastics that Gray was having to do was going to force a choice, I expressed, at Monkbot, that I had passed Denial, and was in the latter phase of Anger of the Kubler-Ross Grief Scale. Over the last week, I think I managed through Bargaining and a wee bit of Depression and am finally to the Acceptance stage…particularly since someone I consider a good friend will experience a huge relief and satisfaction that he did something good that really did profoundly affect others.

Not many people can go through this life and claim that. I sincerely appreciate the hard work and effort put into creating an entertaining, insightful and educational site. He inspired me to take some baby steps to pursue my own “efforts”. I hope that Taylor Hicks understands and appreciates the friend he has in Gray Charles (the man). Dude, you are ALWAYS welcomed here.

So how DO you sum it all up? Words seem so hollow but maybe this touches it a bit:

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” – Gilda Radner

True dat. Here’s to not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next…..and, to saying “yes”.

The Poet Game….


Posted by on March 31, 2007 in gray charles, the internets


Taylor Time


“Confetti Man”


Those of you who know me, know that I am somewhat of a Taylor Hicks fan (subtle understatement here). Since this is a music blog and I feel that he is conspicuously missing, I’m adding a Taylor feature. Each week, I’ll try to highlight one of my favorite Taylor songs and give a little explanation as to why. We’ll call it “Taylor Time”.

For those of you who might not understand my proclivity for Taylor Hicks, I’m going to point folks to some postings of mine back at back in the spring of ’06 that discussed Taylor’s “Tipping Point” and my thoughts on when that occurred **cough**Playthatfunkymusicwhiteboy**cough**.


That thread had some great discussion and some good thoughts about Taylor and his music. For me, this posting that I made nearly a year ago still capture the essence of what I really like about Taylor Hicks.


double d # 16 May 20th, 2006 at 8:04 am

Inertia is resistent to change but once in a while a wrench falls into the spinning drum and totally screws the machine.

Taylor = wrench….I absolutely love it.

May 20th, 2006 at 9:56 am

Holeigh, I know what you mean. I think that Taylor had some kind of realization before that night that said, “hey, what’s the worse thing that can happen, I get kicked out of here and go back to playing music? it’ll certainly be on a much higher level now…my voice has been heard…hell, just as soon lay it all on out there…”

I only know that, for me, the guy is a symbol for “being real”. Most of us have to swallow such crap every day in our every day lives and to see someone, like us, stay true to themselves…, I just really identified with it. Taylor was just the right movement at just the right time for me. And, from the looks of it, some others too. Way cool.

May 20th, 2006 at 6:28 pm

It’s really all a matter of preference. But, Taylor appears to appeal to a broad x-section of fans who do get him and his music. He kind of grows on you because he does many different kinds of music. I think that he’ll be a great cross-over artist. If he does a hard rock album I might listen but probably wouldn’t buy it. I like his humor, his manners and I like his attitude, also.

Call me a sucker but I like the struggling artist who spends 10 years bustin’ his arse and then catches a break, beats the odds and finds redemption, finally…story. I’m a sap, ok, I want to see the confetti fall on this guy.

Well, the good guy won and I hope that he continues to be true to himself. For today’s “Taylor Time” – one of my personal favorites….Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers. I’m not exactly sure where this was recorded but I believe it was in Atlanta. I do know that it’s done with Jon Cook on guitar. Taylor and Jon played together for many a year and some of Taylor’s best work was done with Jon’s accompaniment. I got to meet Jon at Soul Kitchen in Mobile and he is one carazy dood, but a really nice guy.


I love this song. The song itself and Taylor’s version. I love the “live”-ness of it with all the bar noises in the background. The singular guitar is haunting at the beginning. Taylor’s voice is strong, powerful and meaningful. However, the pièce de résistance is the harmonica solo. I mean,….gobsmacked. You can hear the pain in the wailing of that harp. Then, the “tagging” in of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World” to finish it off. To me, this is a virtual masterpiece for Taylor and one that he should definitely include in a “live” collection CD. It’s also a stark reminder for me that the confetti fell on the right guy. Huzzah!

Ain’t No SunshineTaylor Hicks (a/k/a “Da Man”)


Posted by on March 28, 2007 in gray charles, Taylor, taylor hicks