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Monday, July 14, 2008

Sweet Crackers, Misspellings and a Flash

Taylor Hicks provided an interview with MTV's Jim Cantiello about his "Grease" gig and the influences behind his Teen Angel portrayal. In the article, "Taylor Hicks Channels Elvis..." written by MTV's Jim Cantiello, Mr. Hicks describes the characterization of his Teen Angel as;
“It’s a really cool part,” he said. “The Teen Angel comes down and tells Frenchy she should put down her teasing comb and go back to high school. I’ve kind of channeled Elvis, a little Graham Parsons and Liberace, all at the same time, for this role. It was just a perfect fit and a way for me to experience the Broadway stage in a small dose, instead of a full role. I come out in the second act. I pop in from an ice-cream cone, in a blue rhinestone suit, and rock it out for a few minutes.”

I get the Liberace comparison with the rhinestones and that pompador hairdo that Taylor Hicks wears for the role, and of course he'd toss in Elvis because, well, it is Elvis. But apparently the MTV guy or someone wasn't familiar with "Graham" Parsons. For one, they misspelled his name, which should read, 'Gram' Parsons, not like the sweet cracker spelling. (click photo)

Now, I'm not seeing anything about Gram Parsons in Mr. Hicks' portrayal of Teen Angel but the light bulb flashed in my mind on the 'why' of Parsons being mentioned. I've read statements from Mr. Hicks in which he listed the Flying Burrito Brothers as a favorite and so that targets his being a fan of the late, underrated and talented Gram Parsons, but again, associating Parsons with the character in "Grease" a big stretch.

Taylor Hicks' fans, I'll share my little beam of light toward my thoughts on Gram Parsons, since it's not likely many of Hicks' mainstream fans are cognizant of who he was. Gram, over time, has become something of a cult figure in the music business. During Parsons' actual short lifetime he just missed that mark of hitting it big, and today, like I said, it's doubtful anyone but a music historian or music buff of this genre would know his name off the top of their head, now. That could be a likely excuse for a reporter or MTV editor to misspell the man's name. Hell MTV is more concerned over their mind zapping insipid, IQ deficit reality show fare over anything much to do with real music anymore anyway.

As it stands, Gram Parsons is now referred to as one of the pioneers behind the country-rock phenomenon that hit during the late 60s and early 70s. Parsons was a member of the Byrds at one time, and was that creative force driving "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" a country themed compilation released in 1968, considered by music aficionados as a classic of its time.

Most fans of music other than Pop, should recognize the name, "Flying Burrito Brothers", a band that was founded by Mr. Parsons. He was also instrumental in helping Emmylou Harris get her start in the industry when he invited her to sing on his solo album, GP, in 1973. He was a friend to the Rolling Stones and cast influence in their "Exile on Main Street" album. He was pals with Elvis Costello and Linda Ronstadt. You can also hear his influence in works by the Eagles, Tom Petty and New Riders of the Purple Sage (loved that band) and Pure Prairie League ("Amie") Sadly Gram Parsons died way too early from an accidental overdose, a lethal combination of alcohol and morphine.

Taylor Hicks has referred to his new CD to have somewhat of a country flavor. This is where and The Why Mr. Hicks is bringing up Gram Parsons' name. The new CD is reported to have a bit of a country music flair to it - steel guitars, that vibe. Man, it's smacked me upside the head this morning, I got it. Mr. Hicks once communicated about what he meant by the name, "Modern Whomp", his intention and ideals. Yes, man, what a great way to be reviewed later in the music annals as doing what Parsons did for the rock music scene back in his day - to be able to cast a new music vibe in today's era. Everyone has to have a dream, man. Taylor Hicks you are dreaming large, baby. A Change-a-Gonna Come, indeed.

Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris rocking out the Liberty Hall, Houston, Texas:

"In the late sixties they pioneered the country rock sound. They were never really a commercial success, but they were one of the most influential bands of the rock era, blending hillbilly soul and raucous rock. They paved the way for artists like the Eagles, Garth Brooks, Dwight Yoakam and others. Founding members Chris Hillman and Gram Hillman called it cosmic American music. The melding of acoustic instrumentation interrupted by searing electric guitar riffs was certainly a sound new to the music scene. Although the Gram and Hillman managed to stay together for only 3 years and 3 albums, their music would far outlast their shortened career."
quote from youtube source


  1. Anonymous1:26 PM

    Sunny, this is off-topic (sorry!) but have we heard any unbiased reviews of Taylor's performance in "Grease"? Not a fan recap, not an ad disguised as an article in broadway.com, but an actual review?

  2. He's had all really positive reviews - at least the ones I've seen. I'll find some links and make a post of those tomorrow.

    Just got in and going to morph's.

  3. Anonymous9:20 AM

    Interesting blog. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Modern Whomp was not accepted by the masses. I think even the SP was confused by that. I still don't know to this day what kind of sound he was going after. His Taylor Hicks CD was mostly watered down soul music and pop ballads. He needs to face reality "modern whomp" failed. Also sounds cheesy and sounds like he wants to create another music genre - I don't see it happening EVER.

  4. Creating another music genre is likely what he's thinking about and so the Modern Whomp tag.

    His eponymous CD wasn't exactly all his idea. He was provided a song listing to select from, basically and chose ones he liked better than others that might reflect what he likes as a sound. Sadly the whole mixing of the vocals and sound came off too manufactured. Mr. Hicks vocals lose their potential charm and authenticity in several tunes.

    I've had someone anonymously email me a few times regarding the MW meaning and reason for the name. Parsons was dropped during one of those messages, and now in this MTV spot. Makes me thing he has indeed, a concept of doing or trying to do something similar to what Parsons did in the late '60's. Parsons was innovative.

    The reason the mass average consensus has been negative toward the name, and hell I've not been real fond of it, is how it sounds.

    It does sound rather cheesy. Intentions though by Hicks', possibly the masculine tone to it. I mean there has never been a musical genre tagged "Whomp" so how it that then 'Modernized'. ha.

  5. Anonymous10:36 AM

    Sunny, Modern Whomp as a name will never work - the word 'Whomp' sounds too much like an Italian racial slur word. He needs to drop that crap as quickly as possible. I wonder if he even realizes this???

  6. Anonymous10:50 AM

    Sunny, your anonymous e-mailer - was probably Taylor. I've heard many times that he reads the fan boards and blogs and does respond anonymously.

  7. That email doesn't go to anyone, I've tried to respond - its' a one-way street thing.

    Could be him, the person targets only certain issues. They did say they read me regularly. Example, Jason Castro - they had an interest in why I included Castro on here. Then when Castro got voted off, I received one from them saying something to the effect that the boy lacked showmanship that's why he went - that he needed more OTJ experience. Too, the sincerity factor Castro displayed, was seen as a weakness - I was told folks like a mystery. I found even more interesting after finding that video of Hicks' performing at that BBQ (I think) when he mentions Castro could have stayed if ... and he jerks his guitar around for effect. ha. Who knows.

    I'd never thought of Whomp sounding like an Italian racial slur but then I'm not Italian.

  8. thegoddamnbatgirl2:37 PM

    It's sad that I know more about what happened to Gram's body after his death than his music. He's one of those musicians that I keep meaning to check out, but then I forget to do so. So thanks for reminding me again. :)

  9. Anonymous3:04 PM

    Sunny, the Italian racial slur word is wop. I know wop and whomp are two different words, but they sound alike. Here's a website.