Tagged By Design

There is one thing that I love the most about going to Taylor concerts. It’s best when Taylor is “in the zone”, when you can tell that there is no place in the world that he would rather be than on that stage. That’s when the best tags are sung. What I’ve been wondering is where does Taylor get the inspiration for those tags? Are they all planned out before hand, or does he sing whatever comes to him?

I have never claimed to be a music aficionado, and to be honest, I never even knew what tagging was before Taylor Hicks. But, now that I know about it, it just makes me curious about his motives behind them. Are they just random? Or is he trying to send a message, as some from the Soul Patrol would think? Check out this one from St Charles, Missouri on his spring tour.

In this one clip, he sings lyrics from Hymns to the Silence and Saint Dominic’s Preview, both by Van Morrison. I can also pick out a line from Soldier of Fortune by Deep Purple and obviously, Thank You from Sly and the family Stone along with Hot Fun in the Summertime. Warm Love is also in there, another Van Morrison tune. So, in one clip, in one song, he’s tagged at least six different song lyrics. That is amazing. That takes some musical knowledge and talent, which makes the fact that he’s touring with Grease even more difficult to swallow.

So, does anybody have any thoughts on how he accomplishes this? There are some concerts where he does this several times. Are they just random? Or planned?

Let’s discuss.

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18 Responses to “Tagged By Design”

  1. Taylor’s tagging is quite similar to how Jazz artists handle their tunes whether instrumentally or vocally. Improvisational treatments according the the moment. Much of the time it appears at least, that he’s just going with it. I’m sure he thinks about segments of songs that could be used in a performance, but the feel is all fluid improv.

    If you spent time in Jazz bars like I have over the years, it’s just that same sort of feeling – the music flowing from performer to audience and back again.

    “The Maze”, my favorite tune off his eponymous CD.

  2. I love that part of it. It makes the audience feel “in tune” with him, effectively making them part of the performance.

  3. check out Van Morrison’s “See Me Through/Soldier Of Fortune/Thank You Faletinme Be Mice elf” from his 1994 “A Night In San Francisco” album and you will see where the inspiration came from for this.

  4. Thanks!!

    Here are the lyrics for “See Me Through/Soldier of Fortune/Thank You”…

    Feel like I can’t get over
    Solid White Cliffs of Dover
    When I don’t know what to do, baby
    Why don’t you see me through?

    When I’ve been too long in the storm
    Feel so sad and forlorn
    Perhaps I’m counting on you
    To see me through

    When I think of the Dear Rugged Cross
    Where the Dear Saviour gave his all
    Feel like on our romance is gone
    Baby, to see me through

    See me through days of wine, wine and roses
    Ooh, why don’t you see me through one day?
    One day at a time
    And I’m already stoned
    My cup is full but it’s so empty inside
    Why don’t you see what you can do?

    Pencil me in, yeah
    Pencil me in, yeah

    (Instrumental & horn solo)

    See me through the days of wine, wine, wine
    And sad faded roses, yeah
    Yeah, why don’t you see me through
    Just one day?
    One sweet day at a time
    Let it ro-oll
    See what you can do

    Bright lights, big city ain’t new, Oh!
    Need a shot-a rhythm an’ blues
    Rhythm an’ blues, yeah

    (Soldier of fortune)
    This is a some day, yeah
    (Soldier of fortune)
    An’ this is one day
    (Some day, all day)

    Might be a Friday mornin’
    (Some day, all day)
    I have to make my get-a-way
    (Some day, all day)
    One day at a time
    (Some day, all day)

    I’m a soldier of fortune
    Soldier, alright, of fortune, I’m alright
    Soldier of fortune
    Soldier (of fortune)

    I’m a (soldier of fortune)
    (Soldier of fortune)
    (I’m a soldier of fortune)
    (Soldier of fortune)

    My-my-my .44 so long, shout it
    Makes my shoulder sore
    Well, well, my .44 so long, shout it
    Makes my shoulder so sore

    My-my-my .44 so long, shout it
    Makes my shoulder so sore-a
    Well, well my .44 so long an’
    Makes my shoulder sore

    My-my-my .44 so long
    Makes my shoulder sore
    Well, well, my .44 so long, yeah, baby
    Makes my shoulder sore

    (Instrumental & sax)

    (My, my, .44 so long)
    (Makes my shoulder sore)
    (Well, well, my .44 so long)
    (Makes my shoulder sore)

    (Well, well my .44 so long an’ it)
    (Makes my shoulder sore)
    (Well, well my .44 so long)
    (Makes my shoulder sore)

    (Well, well my .44 so long, oh an’ it)
    (Makes my shoulder sore)
    (Well, well my .44 so long
    (Makes my shoulder sore)

    (Well, my ‘shoulder’s’ so long)
    (Makes my shoulder sore)

    (Van:)
    ‘Candy Dulfer, one more time, yeah’

    (applause)

    Get your coat
    Get your hat
    Get on your gloves
    Goin’ up that mountainside
    Where the water runs, yeah
    Crystal clear

    (Soldier of fortune)
    Goin’ up that mountainside
    Where the water runs in
    (Soldier of fortune)
    Crystal clear
    (Soldier of fortune)
    (Soldier of fortune)

    I’ve got a house on the hill
    I got it, money in the bank
    I got it, cars in the driveway
    A colored t.v’s
    An’ a mobile phones
    An’ a computer program

    An’ a house on the hill
    An’ a money in the bank
    An’ a cars in the driveway
    An’ colored t.v.’s
    An’ mobile phones
    An’ computer program, yeah

    You will tell me
    Tell me, baby
    Tell me, baby
    How come-a?
    How come?
    We’re still on the chain gang?
    We’re still on the chain gang?

    Lift that barge boy, tote that bale!
    Still on the chain gang
    We’re still on the chain gang
    Black brother (black brother)

    Still on the chain gang
    Black brother (black brother)
    Still on the chain gang
    Black brother (black brother)

    The chain gang (chain gang)
    Black brother (black brother)
    Chain gang (chain gange chain)
    Black brother (black brother)

    (Still on the chain gang)
    (We’re still on the chain gang)
    (We’re still on the chain gang, yeah)
    (Still on the chain gang)

    (We’re still on the chain gang)
    (We’re still on the chain gang)
    (Still on the chain gang)
    (We’re still on the chain gang)

    (Still on the chain gang)
    (We’re still on the chain gang, yeah)
    (Still on the chain gang)
    (We’re still on the chain gang, yeah)
    (Still on the chain gang)
    (We’re still on the chain gang, yeah)

    Goin’ up that mountain
    Where the water runs crystal clear
    Look down on the city
    Way down below at it
    Way down on the city
    Down below at it

    (breathes in, breathes out)
    (breathes in, breathes out)
    (breathes in)

    (whispers)
    It’s cool, clear and bright
    Always the mornin’
    It’s cool, clear, bright

    Crystal mornin’
    Turn around, oh
    Turn around
    Head on my shoulder

    And you said:

    I wanna thank you Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin

    (applause)

    I wanna thank you Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin

    Thank you, baby!
    (Thank you, baby!)

    I wanna thank you Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin
    Thank you, baby!)
    (Thank you, baby!)

    (I wanna thank you Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
    (Thank you, baby!)

  5. Virtual Speak Says:

    This is a great topic. My personal opinion is he does some of the tagging randomly, almost like a free style rapper, just sings whatever comes to mind at that very second, off the cuff. He most definitely does have a lot of musical knowledge rolling around in that head.

    I have also known a few (sane-ish) fans that have had M&G’s with him, spoken to him about music or even a something personal and then during that particular show, he’ll tag something pertaining to whatever he spoke to a fan about. Does that make it a message? I personally don’t think so.

    But, who knows.. again, going back to the randomness.. he may just take bits and pieces of his day.. like.. music he heard, conversations he’s had, a scent that jogged a memory, and think about it when he’s tagging, and whatever comes out, is what we get.

    It is a rare occasion if ever, that he’s tagged any current music. Which, again, does make the Grease gig a bitter pill to swallow. He does have the potential… living up to it remains to be seen.

  6. Virtual Speak Says:

    I meant to add that the one and only time I think he sent a message to his fans is when he sang New York State Of Mind at that BBQ. Soon after, he announced the Grease gig.

    Shadow tours, innovative ways to bring his music to the masses via singing his single during Grease, glittery suits, pompadours, floating dairy cones..

    Blech..

    I can’t wait for this Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show to end.

  7. What’s interesting to me about the tagging is that Taylor also tends to switch it up. You can never know what tags are going to be sung during any specific song, which kind of leads me to believe that it’s all random. And some nights, he’s so into it, and other concerts, he hardly tags at all.

    But in this particular video, it’s so seamless. It also speaks to Taylor’s talent as a musical director of the band. It is amazing to me that they are able to keep up with him.

  8. I remember the buzz when he was dating Caroline, and he sang Happier with Him. The Soul Patrol was sure that he was telling his fans that they were no longer together.

    I’m with you about the Grease tour. I just don’t see how this is going to help him sell CD’s. It sure in the hell didn’t help when he released Early Works. I don’t know this for sure, but I wonder if Taylor has a hard time taking advice from people in the industry.

  9. Virtual Speak Says:

    I’ve been to countless shows and it never ceases to amaze me, how some nights he’s so into his tags and other nights he seems pre-occupied or rushed and barely tags at all. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must be for the guys in his band to try and keep up his pace.

    Just from observation, as I don’t profess to know a thing about the mans personal life, but it seems that his stage persona isn’t much different than the way he lives daily. One moment frenetic, the next he’s laid back, zoned out and sometimes (a lot of times) pissy.

    As far as the “Happier With Him” tag. I don’t think it had a thing to do with Caroline. He did that song pre-idol. Nor do I think his “Single and ready to mingle” crack (was that The Beacon or Atlantic City? I forget) had a thing to do with the status of their relationship. He seems to enjoy that whole cat-mouse banter to keep his fans guessing.

    Bastard. 😆

  10. He most certainly does enjoy the cat and mouse game. And don’t even get me started on how I love the pissy side of him. hahaha

  11. Sign me up for Virtual Speak’s Road Tour … I couldn’t agree more.

    The dude just has SO MUCH FREAKIN’ TALENT, and he’s … in an ice cream cone!!! Things that make me crazy … *sigh*

    I’m hoping with crossed fingers for a good CD in February … what’s my mantra, again? Ah yes, wait and see.

    Great blog … I’m thinking it was a lot of work to try to dissect all those tags. It’s like trying to dis-assemble a seamless puzzle, extracating all those assorted lyrics … whew!!

  12. Hey there, IAG, I’m enjoying your blog. These discussions are interesting.

    First a point of correction — the video in the blog post was taken in Clearwater Florida during the summer tour. The St. Charles show was an intimate, 300-seat venue where he blew everyone’s doors off with “Angel from Montgomery” during the encore. 🙂

    Count me as in the camp of those folks who don’t believe that Taylor is sending any “messages” in the songs he tags. Tagging songs into other songs is an old blues trick, though usually there it’s called “quoting”. I think it just happens when the music opens up and creates a space where the musician is moved to sing whatever comes to him at the moment. That of course can be challenging for the band. I remember Sam Gunderson saying at one point that you had to play with an open glove with Taylor because you were never sure what he was going to throw your way. But that is the real beauty of that kind of moment — both musician and audience can be transported into a wonderful space together.

    I do think that Taylor uses some spontanteous “communications” with the audience from time to time — like the “I want to thank you for letting me be myself again” (though as it was said above, that’s an old Van Morrison tag). However, I don’t think there are any “larger” messages intended. Heck, the guy’s such a poster child for ADD that even he probably doesn’t remember what he sang ten minutes later! LOL

    Thanks again for an interesting blog.

  13. Seven Days, first off, thanks for posting. You’re right, I think that the video I was going to use was in St. Charles, and I forgot to edit it when I found this one.

    I was at St Charles, but not the night he sang “Angel from Montgomery” unfortunately. 😦

    Playing for Taylor has give those guys a headache. I can’t imagine not knowing what it going to happen next.

    And the ADD? I completely agree with that assessment. hahaha

  14. I think the tagging is just a stream of consciousness thing. Boy just has a bunch of songs in his head that need to come out and play.

  15. Yeah, but to have all those lyrics running around in your head? That has to be maddening.

  16. Great topic guys. I am gonna have to go with Seven Days’ take on Taylor’s tagging. What does amaze me though is his musical ability to translate a particular tune that he is singing and actually have the song that he tags fit into that tune, which is sometimes even different from the way the tag was originally written.

    For me this is when Taylor is at his best. When he just kind of goes into his own space, totally oblivious to what is going on around him. If you are one of the lucky ones to be there when he does this and if you are one of the smart ones who just shuts up and listens, you are always awarded with a great musical ride for the moment.

    I think that this is Taylor’s biggest problem when it relates to his recorded music. He needs to be able to bridge that gap that occurs when a Producer tries to pigeon-hole him into a certain vocal format. He needs to be allowed to play with the words and notes a bit more, not so overproduced the way Matt Serletic forced him to be. I hope that this new Producer allows him that space that he needs. I guess only time will tell.

  17. Willpen…like I said, those are my favorite moments in the concerts, and I think that’s what keeps me coming back for more. I don’t want to hear the song like I hear it on the CD, and Taylor really is a genius at switching it up. I just posted a comment on a different post that talked about how Taylor was probably going to have to tour the rest of his career, because he’s not really a top 40 artist. If he continues to tour, I think he’ll be more successful, but I think this CD really has to be good.

  18. Ok, so this one line has been driving me crazy…I finally figured out where it came from. Yeah, sometimes, I’m a freak like that.

    At 1:25, he says, “You in the kitchen, and I’m in the parlor playing my old guitar.” Those lyrics are from “I Wanna Roo You” by the incomparable Van Morrison.

    🙂

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