Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks: Clay Aiken's Hands

The dinner is over. The food has been put away. The house is quiet again.

My life has returned to its state of everyday chaos.

Today I have given thanks for my maddening, loving and supportive family and my quirky, interesting friends.

I’ve said a prayer of thanksgiving for my life and my health, for the many blessings I have received and for my country, even as we strive to make it “a more perfect union.”

I try to show gratitude every day: for the people who inspire me, in the work that challenges me and through the faith that uplifts my soul.

And as I run through my list of blessings, one more thing comes to mind.

I am so very thankful for Clay Aiken’s hands.

It is now nearly four years since Clay was first seen on television and, as he sung "Always and Forever", he moved his hands to underscore the words. First (and always) I was thankful for Clay’s voice, but I'm glad for all the times when he uses his hands and I catch a glimpse of the aspects of his personality.

As I considered four years of memories, again and again I remembered images of Clay’s marvelously expressive hands.

Just six months after Clay hit the national stage, he was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone. His "sinner and saint" pose included a windblown shirt and a hand crowned with a WWJD bracelet, a reminder of his faith while he was far from home.

In September, Clive Davis, the head of RCA Records, placed a plaque in Clay’s hands, representing two million albums shipped for Clay's debut album Measure of a Man.

A few weeks later, Clay’s hands reached out to accept the Fans Choice Award at the American Music Awards.

There is another side to this story.

Clay’s hands have been in some dark, dirty, dangerous places.

His hands have offered comfort in war-torn Northern Uganda, where children walk away from their homes each night to safe haven in the city, escaping the danger of kidnap or death at the hands of the rebels who lurk in the darkness.

Clay’s hands have gotten dirty, planting trees with Best Buddies, painting with school kids on Youth Service Day and playing games with children of all abilities at the inclusive summer camps organized by his Bubel/Aiken Foundation.

And on a beach in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, just a few feet from an ocean that swallowed a quarter million people, Clay used his hands to play and sing with children who lost their families, their homes and their schools.

Some of my favorite times of seeing Clay use his hands are when he uses them in song.

Songs where he expresses tenderness.

Songs where he expresses faith.

Songs when he rocks out, with three rings on his hands.

So what happened when Clay was interviewed by Tyra Banks, a woman as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside?

Clay talked about music and home and soul food, and he made Tyra laugh. He turned the tables and interviewed her and he listened with real interest. He sang "A Thousand Days" from his new album A Thousand Different Ways. And used his hands playfully and flirtatiously, and had a good deal of fun.

Clay shouldn’t be blamed for getting a little touchy feely.

After all, Tyra started it.

Lord knows Clay is not perfect --- no, not even close --- but he certainly makes an effort to make a difference, through his music and his life. On Thanksgiving Day and always, I am grateful that Clay Aiken has used his hands to reach out and touch the world, with joy, with love, with humor and with unmatched artistry.

Hmm… maybe that’s why he won’t sing “Touch.”’

Knowing that some things are better experienced than described, he probably thinks it would be redundant.

Thanks to galrow and Invisible926 for their photographs, and to Fountaindawg for the inspiration for this blog.


Please check out Kelly're a foolish foolish woman for a first-hand account of the real Clay during the Regis & Kelly taping.

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Invisible926 said...

Thanks for the wonderful blog, berk! Clay's beautiful hands deserve a tribute such as this one.

I hope he always wears the rings. I love the way they catch the light as the hands move so expressively.

CB said...

Well said, Berk. Some people should be so lucky to be touched by those hands.

And that picture of him rocking out on Kimmel's stage is going in my 2007 calendar.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping you'd write something, berkeley. Your words 'touched' me...

gothedistance said...

Sniff. I'd say something about your beautiful blog but I have a lump in my throat.

Liz said...

Beautiful post, beautiful pix, beautiful person. Human like the rest of us, imperfect, but as ever, not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

Thanks, Berk. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Berk, just Bravo!

Well said, well done.

Those hands have touched so many lives in such a positive, generous, and caring manner.

Thank you for this post.


The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

Brava Berk. Thank you for your beautiful words.

Robin said...

As always, wonderful, wonderful words! I have always had a "thing" for Clay's hands, and this writing, expressed it all so well. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Berkeley, as always, you rock! Your words are as beautiful as the hands on that very attractive man. Thanks for sharing them.

laljeterfan said...

What a perfect way to end this day of Thanksgiving- with a wonderful blog by Berkeley about a man I am just crazy about! Thank you for the reminders of just a few of the things that Clay has done, with the dream of many more things to accomplish in the coming years.

Idle-wandering said...

Here's one of my favorites:


DaeDae said...

wow! absolutely marvelous and 100% true!

Anonymous said...

Berk, I love your writings. I read you ever day at CH, but can't express my thanks as I am still on the waiting list. Isn't it ironic that we fans have always adored Clay's hands. We even have hand pictures on our hard drives. Just his hands. And now someone has tried to discredit him by using his hands. Foolish little person. She has idea how shallow she is. I am so thankful that I get it and thank you for expressing it so well. IU Gal

Anonymous said...

Until a person has done as much in such a short time to help his or her fellowman, noone should question where Clay's hads has been. He has used them to feed the children, teach the children, and help with the disable. Until a person has walked in his shoes a person should chose their words wisely. I cried when I read this.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful, beautiful blog. Can you, some how, send this off to Ms. Kelly Ripa?? I think she really needs to see this. Then, maybe, she will stop being such a hypocrite! (I don't think Simon got the same treatment when HE put his hand over her mouth to shut her up!!) Clay certainly is a very special person, and not perfect. But, I don't think we want him to be.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a beautiful blog of the hands of this beautiful man. I have always been fascinated with Clay's beautiful hands and what he does with them, whether it be humanitarian works, helping and playing with children, praying, giving hugs and especially how he uses his beautiful hands to express himself in song and the interaction of his hands with his mic. Clay's hands and how he uses them in so many aspects of his life is one of the reasons why we love him so much.

And as for the Ripacrite...In my own personal opinion, Clay Aiken can put his hand over MY mouth ANYTIME he wants to and the only thing I would do is kiss that beautiful hand of his as it covered my mouth. In fact, I would cup my hand over his hand that was covering my mouth so he would keep it there forever!!!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! You should send that to Kelly Ripa and answer her question!

Pink Armchair said...

That was marvelous and so moving, berkeley. When you think about where those hands really HAVE been, it makes me very ashamed of, and embarrassed for, the Ripacrite. If she only knew -- maybe she would be ashamed of her thoughtless remark, too. Hope she reads this.

Vox Vixen said...


No other words needed.

Shadylil said...

Berk, as usual, you've out done yourself. I'm so very proud to be able to call you friend.

Clay has given so much to the world and just think, he's only just beginning....

Anonymous said...

You have a way with words, certainly....

Clay has such expressive hands, and with what you have illustrated in your blog, it makes me sick to hear the echo of Ripa's voice not only from the first hearing but also from each TV show's replaying. The world should know about the goodness......

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, as aways, Berk.


Chardonnay said...

Beautiful blog Berkeley. That first picture of his hands just socked me in the gut so hard and I'm having a really, really hard time even imagining that anyone could be offended in any way by either one of them.

Anonymous said...

Bravo to you and to all Claymates for sticking by and standing up for Clay. We definitely need more people like him in the industry. However, this whole 'hand over the mouth' has been blown way out of proportion. I'm sure Clay would probably prefer us to spend our energy doing something good like charity work instead.

For the haters, you have no right to bad mouth anyone especially someone you don't even know. You are failing to see the issue at hand. The issue is the bad mouthing by Kelly after seemingly didn't mind the whole incident during the show, and after Clay showed his remorse and apologized. He even send her flowers few days later as a peace offering.

For those of you who are commenting like they'd watched the whole show but actually didn't, it all started when Kelly made fun of Clay with a tape of her imitating him at Halloween. Then the same mood just carried throughout the show. Clay was very respectful to her, he did not interrupt her when she was talking about the function she went to the day before etc. He was not only there to co-host (his first time) but was also there as a guest (to talk about his new album etc.) They were pressed for time that day and after trying to get a word in during the interview (doing his job as a co-host) and from being interrupted by Kelly's previous question, he just reacted like how we all just react without thinking sometime. Everything during the show happened in good fun. Maybe the producers of the show should've advise both Kelly and Clay to tone it down during the interviews. And if Kelly have such a problem being touch (even we all know that's not true by the evidences of what'd happened in the past) the producers and Kelly should've the courtesy of telling Clay ahead of time just like Howie Mandel with the handshaking thing.

As far as for Rosie's comment, it is just her view. I applaud her for trying to stand up for Clay, no matter how people took her comment. She, like Kelly, was taking advantage of her public forum. To me, I don't think Rosie intended to say Clay is gay (he said before he wasn't), it was just the way Kelly reacted. The way Kelly reacted was as if she think he's gay. I may not totally agree with Rosie's comment but I do agree, if it was anyone else, the reaction would be different (evidences from the past prove that).

Rather it was Kelly or Clay who acted inappropriately that day, the whole thing should've ended when the show ended. It was Kelly who turned around and abused her previlige of using her public forum to bad mouth another person in their absence. It is very unprofessional, disrespectful and definitely not classy for anyone to do that to another person, no matter who it is. I think it is Kelly's turn to apologize. And since Kelly humiliated Clay in public, she should apologize in public.

Still waiting Kelly!