Monthly Archives: May 2007

The Story

Now that I’m almost a week removed from the event, my legs have stopped shaking, and I’m slowly coming down from cloud 9, I think I can tell you all the back story that helped make a more than decade long dream possible.

I couldn’t tell many people about this event because I wasn’t technically supposed to know about it, and I was afraid I would jinx it if I told too many people. Everyone was super nice as expected and I even got to joke with Peyton.

A reception was scheduled for the key members of the Colts organization: Jim Irsay, Bill Polian, Tony Dungy, and Peyton Manning. Even the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was there. I recognized him from the back of his head. Yep…I love football that much that I can recognize the commissioner from behind. I was informed of the reception through some of the people I work with. So I emailed the sponsoring office of the reception to ask if there was anything they could do to get me invited. My contact passed it on to someone who could help me in the office, and I conversed back and forth with that person until he emailed me during the reception to come on over and duck my head in.

I walked into the room and couldn’t quite believe that those men were in that room with me. I spoke with Tony first and it was as if I’d known him for years. He was just that personable. I was shaking when we took the picture together. My legs felt like they were going to buckle underneath me. He was so incredibly nice and truly interested in what I had to say, which was a lot of congratulations, thanks for being the role model that he is, and about my having grown up in Florida where he still has a home. He even said he fishes in my hometown sometimes.

After that I took my picture with Mr. Lombardi (the trophy). Then, I was kind of milling around to try and get a chance to meet Peyton, but he was having conversations with the important people in the room, so I didn’t want to interrupt him. But every time he moved to a different location it was away from me and not towards me. At one point, Jim Irsay was standing right next to me, so I introduced myself to him and told him congratulations and that, in my opinion, he is the best owner in the league. Then I said, I’ve been working my way towards Peyton but haven’t gotten a chance to speak with him. So Jim Irsay calls him over and introduces me to him. Yes that’s right…the owner of the Colts introduced me to Peyton Manning. I think that may have very well been the highlight. I spoke to Peyton and told him that I’d been a fan of his since he went to college which was difficult since I went to Alabama…and he said he’d forgive me for that. So I actually got him to joke with me. He was just plain super nice…and REALLY TALL! I mean I know he’s 6’5″, but seriously…that guy is big. He leaned down to look me in the eye the whole time I was talking to him…ok so it was like 30 seconds, but still. My only regret is that I wasn’t clear headed enough to ask him the one question I’ve always wanted to ask him: what exactly goes through his mind, what does he think about during those 40 seconds between the end of a play and the snap of the ball for the next play? Oh well…guess I’ll just have to ask him that next time I see him. 🙂

After taking my picture with Peyton, I thanked the person who had gotten me in and I left the reception. My legs shook all the way back to my office, and I had the best grin on my face and tears in my eyes. As far as having my silly dreams come true, this has just been the best year of my life…and it’s only May.

P.S. 9 weeks and 4 days until Colts Training Camp!

No Words

There are no words. Absolutely no words to describe what just happened. I’m simply amazed when God blesses me as He does every day of my life. I am thankful to Him every day for His love and forgiveness, for my life, for my family, and for my friends. And then He goes and throws in something that is simply icing on the cake. I do nothing to deserve the blessings He gives me every day, but I REALLY do nothing to deserve these little bits of happiness He hands me just for the fun of it.


***Additional Information since original posting: I found out on my way out of my office building last night that not only did he come to Washington to attend the state dinner on Monday night, but at some point during Monday, he actually came into my office building complex. He was here, literally steps away from me and I didn’t know. Man…I think I’m going to have to fire some spies.***

I feel like such a failure. I pride myself on pretty much being able to guess/determine where Peyton is pretty much year-round. He’s a creature of habit, so it’s not all that difficult to gauge where he is since he has roughly the same off-season routine every year.

Reasonable assurances placed him this week at mini-camp in Indianapolis, IN following his annual attendance of the Kentucky Derby with his family (and from what I understand…this year he brought along nearly the entire Colts starting offense). However, ESPN radio on my drive in this morning informed me otherwise of his whereabouts. He and his wife (the lovely, former Ashley Thompson of Memphis, TN pictured below) attended the state dinner last night at the White House honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the United States. Not only that, but he’s been in DC since at least Sunday when he was fitted last minute (according to CNN Headline News) for his required white tie and tales tuxedo.

Well I guess I’m allowed a slip-up every now and then. I’ll try not to let it happen, again. 🙂

American Idol — Revisited

Before I begin let me say that I do not watch American Idol (AI). I used to, but I gave up on it a long while back and have only watched a couple episodes since. As a result, I do not know this season’s contestants. I do know who is good and who is bad. I do not know their typical style or how they have performed in previous weeks on the show. So if you can let this one week stand alone, that’s what I’m doing here. With my completely obsessive knowledge of all things Bon Jovi, the following is simply my assessment of this week’s American Idol featuring Jon Bon Jovi and David Bryan as their mentors when the contestants sing songs from the vast Bon Jovi catalog. That said…

I was a little scared of this week on AI primarily because I’m not fond of listening to other people attempt to sing Bon Jovi’s songs. I think one of the most true things said this week during the AI episodes was that Bon Jovi songs are not easy to sing unless you’re Bon Jovi. The judges didn’t say this in so many words, but you could tell in some of their comments that they knew these songs are hard to sing. Why? Because Jon and Richie have written every song (with the exception of 2 songs on early albums) they have EVER recorded. Thus, they are written for their voices. If you listen to some of the REALLY early work (Before Slippery) you will hear that Jon and Richie were great song writers based on lyrical content, but they were still learning how to match lyric with music and keys that worked for their voices. The newer work you can really tell how much better they got and continue to get…and in concert you can hear that they’ve transformed the oldies but goodies for their ever-evolving (read: aging) voices. Still, though they are aging (quite handsomely I might add…don’t you just love their hair much better now), there are notes that both Jon and Richie hit that still amaze me. When you hear either one of them speak in an interview, you would never expect them to hit some of the notes they are capable of hitting. AMAZING!

So, I was cautiously optimistic that with Jon’s help the contestants wouldn’t butcher my memories…I mean…Bon Jovi’s songs. I loved seeing Dave there to play the piano. Dave is quite possibly my 2nd favorite band member behind Jon. Sorry, Richie, but I have a soft spot for piano players. Dave was a 4.0 GPA pre-med student at Rutgers who had just received a scholarship to Juilliard. He was planning to go to Juilliard when Jon called him to tell him that they’d gotten a record deal. Dave was the first person Jon called when the record deal was offered. I guess you know what he chose. The man can play a mean piano and can even stand between two keyboards and play them at the same time. I swear…I have pictures. He’s scored Broadway musicals in his spare time and even written an instrumental solo album. Plus…he’s got awesome curly hair. 🙂

Did I know Jon could teach these contestants to be rock stars? OH YEAH! But I was concerned that he would fall into that trap that other mentors have in just praising the contestants and not helping them learn what was best for their voice and their performance. Then I remembered…Jon cares about the music. He cares that it translates the way the singers intend. He did crack me up though with his little “my kids love this show” bit before he got down to business with the six contestants. I always have moments where I forget that he’s just a regular guy who’s been living his teenage dream for the last 20+ years all because he works his butt off and 100,000,000 people never gave up on him and wouldn’t stop believing.

So…this guy Phil chooses Blaze of Glory. I have a bone of contention with this song. It’s a great song. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s not a Bon Jovi song. It’s a Jon Bon Jovi song. It was, as Jon said, written for Young Guns II. None of the songs on the Young Guns II soundtrack are BonJovi songs. They are all Jon Bon Jovi songs with the exception of the score written by Alan Silvestri. Jon still sings the song in concert every now and then, but in my opinion it’s a solo album song (he has one of those, too…Destination Anywhere). But regardless, Phil picked it because apparently he’d been singing it into his comb (which he had no other use for) in front of a mirror for the last 15 years. So, Phil comes out, the music starts, and I close my eyes. That’s my test for all Bon Jovi songs. If I can close my eyes and not be able to tell that Jon’s not singing…you win. Phil won. He nailed that song. Unfortunately, he got eliminated the next night when the votes came in. And his performance of Blaze of Glory after he’d been eliminated was even stronger than his Tuesday night performance. They really should sing their songs on performance night as if they’re not coming back. It would make this competition a lot more, well, competitive. So…we have a good start…maybe this won’t be so bad. Not so fast…

So…Jordin…Jordin grew up on Bon Jovi because her mom (God bless her) “got me into y’all.” That statement made me feel old, so I can only imagine how Jon and Dave felt. Jordin wants to sing Livin’ On A Prayer. Heaven help me…I think I might have a coronary. Bon Jovi songs are meant to tell a story, and if any song is the epitome of that purpose, it’s Livin’ On A Prayer. VERY few people can sing this song without sounding like they’re trying too hard because the tempo really fluctuates. You have to have a range and an ability to use that range when you sing this. When Jon stopped Jordin when she was trying to hit the low note on “tough, so tough,” I was so thankful. He gave her great advice. “When the key doesn’t fit your range, change the key.” I thought he explained it pretty well and that they found a note for her to sing that song. Oh my…like I said…I don’t know about her other performances…but to me…she fell into the trap…she tried too hard…and it sounded a little better than a karaoke performance. It just seemed like she spent that time screaming instead of singing. I’m guessing this was just a bad night for her and that she does do pretty well otherwise because she wasn’t eliminated the next night. So, you can only go up from here…

Ah…Lakisha…I really loved her little Q&A with Ryan before they rolled her footage and she performed. “I want the camera to get my slim side.” Right on, girl! I will say I was surprised. This Ain’t A Love Song. That’s meaty, girl. These Days is not a well known Bon Jovi album. It’s actually their anger album. Though it was recorded in 1995, it was written about a time in the late 80’s when things weren’t going well for the guys…mainly Jon. In the late 80’s, Jon had broken up with Diane Lane, after a brief romance and hadn’t gotten back together and married his high school sweetheart, Dorothea, yet (they got married in 1989). The album doesn’t have a ton of happy songs on it, but way to go Lakisha for finding this gem among the 12 songs on that album. So…Lakisha…that guy is walking out the door and you have GOT TO make him turn around and stay. SELL IT, GIRL! She sold it, and I was buying. You will NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER hear me say this next statement, again, EVER. Lakisha sang that song better than Bon Jovi did on the recording. (That is not an open invitation to comment that everyone sings better than Bon Jovi.) It brought tears to my eyes. I even wanted to plead with the guy to stay because if I were him, I would have stayed. I LOVED IT! Ok…so, now we’re getting somewhere. Thank you, Lakisha for giving me hope that not all was lost.

Hmm…Blake…I think I was as nervous as Jon was. Since I don’t know these contestants, I didn’t know what Blake’s style was or what he had done in the past, but he even said he was taking a risk by doing what he was doing to this song. After the fact, I was informed from some other people that he’s done beatboxing before…not all the time…but previously. So, I didn’t know what to expect. Jon was saying that it was an “adventurous rendition,” “had a lot of charm,” he was “rolling the dice,” Blake had to “sell an interpretation of a song that a lot of people know and don’t want messed with,” and “sixteen measures of him not singing on a show that’s supposed to highlight singers worried him.” Oh my…You Give Love A Bad Name may never be the same. Jon and the guys know first hand not to mess with their classic songs after recording the album This Left Feels Right where they re-arranged a lot of their classic songs to a slower tempo. I loved the album, but there were a lot of diehard Bon Jovi fans who said “don’t mess with our memories.” The band heard that loud and clear and didn’t tour with that album. So…we have Blake doing Heaven only knows what with You Give Love A Bad Name. I was scared, but only for about a split second. Blake rocked his rendition. I LOVED LOVED LOVED the beginning with him taking the record off the shelf and putting it on the player. He changed the arrangement of the song just enough for me to forget that it was a Bon Jovi song, which is the ONLY way to get me to like someone changing their songs. He brought the audience in at the end, which is what you’re supposed to do with that song. Stadium rock IS audience participation. The sixteen measures of him not singing was ok actually. I think at the end of it, I didn’t really know what had hit me, but I knew I liked it. It was original (Randy) and half will love it and half will hate it, but that was the right thing to do and it was brave (Simon). Everyone was right that you can’t get ANYWHERE in the music business without taking risks. Jon fired the Bands’ entire management group in the late 80s/early 90s and decided to have the band manage themselves instead of having someone do it for them. Everyone said, don’t do it…you’ll brake up faster than you can imagine. Nearly 20 years later…they’re still here…they’re still together. Blake took a risk when a lot of America was watching and trying to decide if he deserved their vote. I will admit I didn’t vote Tuesday night, but Blake would have gotten mine if I had. So…this may not be so bad. There’s only two left…it’s looking up…

YIKES…Chris…WANTED: Dead or Alive. Ryan calling Chris Justin Timberlake didn’t give me a high first impression of the guy. Chris let me tell you something that maybe no one has told you, yet. Just cause your name is Chris doesn’t mean you ARE Chris Daughtry. His rendition of WANTED is the only other time before this past week that I allowed myself to actually like someone else singing Bon Jovi’s songs. It is one of their best known songs…in fact, in concert they call it their “national” anthem. The lyric behind the song tells the story about what it’s like to be on tour, living on a bus, a new city every night, being away from family, and having only the audience and each other to keep them company. First of all, if you’re gonna sing this song, you gotta know the lyrics and you gotta know which lyrics to sing when. My favorite part of the song is the part that, in practice, Chris didn’t know: “I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all.” That part LIVE is AMAZING. Also, the melody wanted DOES NOT get sung by the lead singer every time it comes up in the lyric. That’s why it’s the melody. Richie sings that part…or the audience. This song is also an audience participation song, and Chris could have sold it better that way if he’d gotten the audience to come in and sing the melody wanted. Jon does that in concert sometimes. So, Randy says Chris “made it his own.” At this point, I’m starting to think that “made it your own” equates to “didn’t sing it right.” Based on what I could gather about his voice, I’ll Be There For You probably would have worked better for him. And, seriously, why didn’t anyone choose that song??? Heaven help me…there’s one more…please let this end well…

Sweet, Melinda…she’s not a rock star…HA…not a rock star, my foot. She cracked me up with her attempt to with the ROCK ON symbol. Have A Nice Day is actually a fantastic rock song with, like Jon said, a lot of soul in it that requires good pipes…both of which Melinda has. The lyrical content is not meant to be a sweet story. It was actually written after John Kerry lost the Presidential election in 2004. Jon was very unhappy with the direction the country was going, so he wrote a song about how everyone can just go *#&$(#&$# themselves and get out of his face. Melinda nailed that. Her attitude while singing the song was SPOT ON. I’m not a fan of females singing with the band. I actually like Jennifer Nettles on the country version of Who Says You Can’t Go Home, but on This Left Feels Right they had a female sing with Jon on Livin’ On A Prayer. It’s horrid. But hands down, if Melinda wanted to tour with the Band, I’d LOVE it. While she was singing, I actually thought about Tina Turner, so when Randy and Simon both mentioned it, I wasn’t surprised. Tina Turner had/has a lot of rock in her. Melinda may think she’s not a rock star, but underneath all that apprehension, she’s a rock star at heart. ROCK ON, Melinda, and thanks for ending the show on a high note.

I wouldn’t have sent Phil home. I would have sent Jordin and Chris home, but only based on the performances from this week. Regardless, my primary reason for watching the results show was to see Bon Jovi perform (You Want To) Make A Memory. It’s the first single off their new album Lost Highway due out June 19th. You can pre-order on Itunes and get the single for free. I haven’t pre-ordered because I prefer to get my Best Buy reward zone points for buying it, but I did buy the single on Itunes. I LOVE IT. Before the single was released, I listened to it on twice before I was sold on it. First I listened for the tempo of the song, and then, I listened to the lyric. It reminds me a lot of the ballads on the Bounce album, and Bounce may very well be my favorite album of theirs. Their performance was great. Richie was rockin’ Wednesday night. His father just died the week before after a long battle with cancer, so I didn’t know if he’d actually perform, but oh man did he ever. And I swear every time Jon smiles, I can’t help but smile, too. I could be in a very foul mood and see him smile and I’d probably just giggle and then smile, too. And oh that note he hit at the end of the song…I nearly fell off the couch. He did a fantastic job mentoring those contestants, giving them constructive criticism, and helping them navigate through singing his songs. If all the mentors were like that, I might actually start watching AI, again. Now, I’m a Ryan Seacrest fan. I know a lot of people out there are tired of him, but I’m sorry…he knows the music business and pop culture better than most. He’s been doing radio forever! I don’t know…I just like him…and NO, I do not think he’s hot. That said…I would totally take Jon as host of AI over Ryan, every day and twice on Sundays.

The video for the single just came out this week. See it here: (You Want To) Make A Memory Video. It made me cry, so I can’t watch it very often. Well that’s it…my review of Bon Jovi’s appearance on American Idol. ROCK ON, y’all!