Wednesday, December 12, 2007
My Phone Call with Taylor
Wow. I just realized it was a year ago tonight that I spoke to Mr. Taylor F. Hicks on the telephone. It was probably the highlight of my year. Here's how it happened.
I was on good old Gray Charles chat the night of Taylor's CD release, December 12, 2006. We had talked to him earlier and he told a few of us his secret plans for the night: he was going to dinner with Taylor in NYC (see photo above). This was not news that he wanted spread around, for some reason, so we were being good and not talking about it except to those already in the know. So I told a couple of people in chat "Damn, Gray is with Taylor right now. How jealous am I?" and someone (tif?) said "Hey, why don't you call Gray on his cell and see if he'll answer?" I thought that might seem too pushy, and God knows I'm NOT PUSHY, but I said "Well, I guess a friendly text message couldn't hurt!" so I texted him "Gray, we are cheersin' you and Taylor in chat. I am jellis. Drink one for me." I told the chat gals what I had just done, and as we were talking my cell phone rang. I looked down. It was Gray. I kind of freaked, cause I knew where he was and who he was with. I told the girls "Brb. Gray is calling me back." When I answered he said "Hey! I got your text! We're drinking wine!" and I said "Yes, I can tell!" He said that Taylor was concerned, cause they had just left an audio blog on GC.com, and afterwards they were second guessing themselves, thinking they might have come off sounding drunk and somehow disrespectful on the blog. I said "Oh no, y'all sounded great. It was a big hit as far as I can tell." Then Gray goes "Hang on a sec...there's someone here who wants to say hello." Well, damn, I knew who "someone" was. So my hands got all sweaty - don't laugh...I am a teenybopper in grown up's clothes - and I waited.
"Hello?" his big ole tenor rang out in my ear.
"Hey, Taylor. This is Julie."
"Well hey, hon. How you doin'?"
"Great. It sounds like y'all are doing better than great!"
"Well, we just had a good dinner and now we're sittin' here talking. I've just switched to water. We had red wine but now I'm drinking water."
"You are wise, Taylor."
"I have to go on Martha Stewart tomorrow and I thought it was a good idea to stop while I was ahead."
"Good thinking." Damn. How am I speaking to him so calmly? In the meantime I remember my chat pals and look down at my computer. "What the hell is going on Julie??? Are you talking to Gray?" I type back in "Hang on. Taylor on phone." HA! I knew that would flip them out, but I couldn't say any more. I had to pay attention to the phone conversation.
"Hey, I wanna ask you something," Taylor said.
"Did you hear the audio blog we just did?"
"Yes, I did."
"Was it okay? We didn't sound like we were being sarcastic or anything, did we? Cause we didn't mean to sound sarcastic, or like we were drinking or something."
"No, it was wonderful. Everyone loves it. All the comments are very positive. You made it sound like you were very excited to meet the president and to be on Martha Stewart...very sincere."
"Good! That's what I thought it sounded like, too!"
"Well, Taylor, you're the one who recorded it, so I guess you would!"
"This is a big night for you, and I know you're having a great time in New York. I am really looking forward to getting a copy of the CD."
"Thanks! Have you heard the songs that are already out there? What do you think?"
Yes, I was now in a tricky position. Truth is, I HATED that album, and still do. Taylor is so much better than that record. His earlier stuff proves that. I wanted to tell him all this, and the direction I'd rather see his career go in. But I'm talking to the man himself, on the night of the album release. What can I say but "I really like what I've heard so far. I can't wait to listen to the whole thing." Sorry, but you can only be truthful to a certain point.
"Great. I hope you like what you hear."
"I know I will." I sensed the conversation was winding down, so I said to him, "Well, it's been nice talking to you. I hope you have a good Christmas."
"Thanks, hon. Same to you."
"Thanks, Taylor. I guess put Gray back on the line."
"Nice talkin' to you. Bye."
At this point, I start to shake. I made it through the whole conversation being cool as a cucumber, but now that it's over, I'm literally shaking and having to take deep breaths. I talked to Taylor for a good three minutes, on the night of his first major CD release! Holy shit! So I continue the conversation with Gray for quite a while, then return to my chat buddies, who are all flabbergasted. But not as much as I am. It was a fabulous, unexpected, wonderful conversation.
This era is over, and I never talk to most of those people anymore. Gray and I had a falling out, and though we've kind of talked since, it's never been the same. I want to take this opportunity to say again, thanks, Gray Charles, for letting me talk to Taylor. It was the highlight of the very tough year I've been through. I owe you one.