Anyone else remember that old Beatles song that goes...
Listen...do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?
Closer...let me whisper in your ear....
A little while ago, on Clay's birthday,the night before the start of the JNaT... I was eating dinner and my computer went to screen-saver...the first picture that came up was of Clay during his Atlanta audition. That day when his life....and so many of ours as well...changed forever. And I thought that if I could go back in time to that day and somehow manage to whisper in the ear of that innocent, hopeful, unsuspecting young man and tell him of some of the things the future held for him....what secrets would I share? What would I whisper in Clay's ear?
Would I whisper that even though you've just been told that you don't look like a pop star (and you'll hear that line again...and again) you will become one. You will set records of some type with virtually every recording you release. Your latest CD will see your first efforts as a lyricist and you're Executive producer on your new Christmas EP. You'll be a sought after guest on TV shows, both for your singing ability and your humor, charm, and quick-wit. Just the fact that you've changed your hairstyle will have the entertainment shows buzzing for weeks.
You will tour seven times in the next four years. No one from the show....even those with more CD sales or more radio airplay will match your gross ticket sales....well over 28 million dollars before you've been in the business for even 4 years. And that's not the only traveling you'll be doing...you'll fly everywhere from London to Slovenia to Malaysia to Uganda. You'll even get to spend some time in Santa Monica.
Now,about this American Idol thing....you're going to see women in the audience when you do these TV shows....they'll be holding signs with silly sayings and wearing T-shirts with your name and face on them and screaming when you look in their direction. Try to get used to them because they're not going to go away. Not a chance (even when you're wishing they would because they just ripped the grass out of your mama's lawn again).They are going to drive themselves crazy trying to get tickets to every single television show you appear on. And you're going to be on a lot of them. Not just singing,either. Your quick wit and sense of humor is going to make you a favorite guest because not only do you "bring" every live singing performance,but you're funny and entertaining "on the couch" as well. Just one word of advice here though....be careful where you put your hands....you don't know where some people's mouths have been.
Do you remember that girl that beat you at the audition in Charlotte? That girl named Quiana Parler? You'll get to know her better in Hollywood. Not only will she become your back-up singer (yes, you heard me right) but she will become one of your closest friends. You'll even become Godfather to her first-born child, a beautiful little boy. And the friends you take with you to Hollywood....Nick and Kristy? Nick will become your personal assistant for a while when you try to adjust to living in LA and the pressures of stardom. And Kristy will be in charge of your foundation for the inclusion of special-needs children.
Yes...you heard that right too. YOUR foundation, started with contributions from those craz....enthusiastic women you'll see in the audience. And that won't be the only way you'll get to make a difference....you'll be a UNICEF ambassador and serve on a Presidential committee for people with disabilities. You'll publish a book and set up summer camps. If you're concerned that following your dream to Hollywood might mean losing your chance to help those children you care so deeply about...don't be. You'll be doing wonderful things that will help children all over the world. Why,just by writing a post in your blog, asking your fans to help, you will be able to raise over $70,000 in a few days for children in a war-torn nation(And by the way....those two little words "He Blogged" will be a cause for celebration in your nation....the word "soon"-not so much).
And you'll be able to help your mom too...by the end of 2003 you'll have paid off her mortgage. And you'll buy Brett another Firebird to replace the one you had sell. What's that? No....you won't be living at home with your mom. You'll have a brand-new custom built 2 million dollar, 9,000 square foot home of your own not too far away though. You'll be taking WRAL and ET on tours of it. It will hold the many awards you've received and include mementos of your trips for UNICEF. You'll share it with friends and family and your beloved four-legged "kids".
But those won't be the only lives you change. Those obsess..craz..enthusiastic fans of yours....their lives will forever be changed by you as well. They'll form their own message boards and have vaults where they'll keep their "Clack"....you don't know what that word means now, but you will. You'll learn all their words and habits and you'll tease them about them endlessly and they'll love you even more for doing it. Those vaults will hold every bit of audio or video of you that they can get their hands on. Remember when you sang GBoF when you were in the Raleigh's Boy Choir? They'll have that. And your high school production of "Oklahoma". And that little bit of song you just sang in there a few minutes ago? That will be there as well. They'll proudly tell you that you had them at that first word "Take" and the title of that song...."Always and Forever"....it won't be just a song title. It will become their promise and their pledge to you.
They'll develop computer skills they never would have dreamed of...they'll become incredible photographers and become able to take videos under some pretty unusual circumstances. They'll discover a new way to share your shows with each other using their cell-phones. They'll find that they have the talent to write funny skits about you and your friends and your dogs and themselves. But most importantly...they'll develop friendships they never would have been blessed with if you hadn't come into their lives.They'll fly across the country just to see you perform live and meet and travel with people that they only know by name on the Internet. They'll wait for hours in the cold or the rain or blistering heat just for the touch of your hand. Even though many of them will be old enough to be your mother (and don't let that fool you) you'll make them feel as though they're 12 years old again with their very first crush. You'll bring smiles to their faces,joy to their souls, love to their hearts, and tears to their eyes.
Why tears,you ask? Because they want the best for you, always and in all things and they won't always be able to give that to you. Because you hate to disappoint them and they'll be times when they'll watch you sing to them when you shouldn't even be out of bed...you'll be barely able to stand,much less perform a show. But perform for them you will...and sing flawlessly and be hysterically funny to boot. And then there will be times when they'll be forced to read and watch and listen to all manner of vile lies being told about you and not be able to stop them. But those lies and that hatred will only draw them closer together....they'll become more than just a fandom, they'll be a family. And those dark days are when their love for you will shine the brightest and they'll reach out to let you know that they are there for you "unconditionally". And you will feel that love and they'll pray that it's helped you cope, if only for a little while.
So go get ready for your drive back home to North Carolina now, Atlanta Clay. Take off that piece of paper that has the number "5230" emblazoned on it and tuck it safely away somewhere.
And prepare for the ride of your life....while we do the same.
Take care Clay....you mean the world to me and so many others. Always remember....you are so very dearly loved.
Related Tags: Clay Aiken, American Idol, A Thousand Different Ways, The Bubel/Aiken Foundation, UNICEF, WRAL