Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Our Year End Thoughts and Wishes

What a wonderful time we've had posting on The ConCLAYve. So many voices. Once again, our members (and guests) are sharing their thoughts. Please share yours. We love to read your comments.

Our newest contribution from Michi:
Another year has gone by and Clay Aiken is still in my life. It surprises me yet at other times it seems as natural as breathing.

I wasn’t looking for anything when Clay appeared on his season of AI. I wasn’t lonely, I wasn’t desperate. I wasn’t looking or needing to have an “empty place” in me filled. I loved music - many, many types and I still do.

I am a firm believer in “things happen for a reason”. The reasons may be slow in revealing themselves or never all that clear but yet I still hold this belief.

I didn’t know it at the time when Clay was on American Idol but my life was going to be shook up and in ways I never would imagine. Would I have survived all the crap if I had never heard of Clay Aiken? Sure I would have. It is what I do. I have a strong support system. I have good friends.

So why did Clay make a difference?

What happened is that I discovered a voice that almost never fails to move me. The past few years when I have felt numbed by circumstances, that voice has made me feel whether I wanted to or not. It wasn’t only his singing voice but when Clay spoke also. I find myself always wanting to hear more. By listening, I also found people that wanted to listen also and have come to call many of these people my good friends.

Who can have too many friends? When things have been tough I have that many more people to care about me. How can that be wrong?

It has been another tough and emotional year in my household but I am humbled by how hard this year has to have been for Clay just because some people are so caught up in hate and sensationalism.

Clay says he loves doing Christmas concerts because it revitalizes him and prepares him for the unknowns of the next year. Funny thing but those concerts do the same thing for me. Meeting up with friends I dearly miss and hearing him sing gives me strength to face what will come in the new year. The Christmas tour was the only tour we got from Clay this year and although I don’t want to have to wait that long again, it was worth it. Clay sang beautifully and heartfelt as always but he also incorporated his wit and humor into each show. At one of the two shows I attended, I witnessed the men (omg there were men at the concert!) cracking up at Clay’s jokes and they didn’t hesitate to give Clay a standing ovation.

I attended one show where the viola players actually sought my friends and I out to comment on how much they enjoyed playing with Clay. They praised not only his musicality but his sense of humor and the fact that he is a nice guy. They didn’t have to say anything. The fact that they did spoke volumes to me.

The New Year is here now, and I am strangely at peace for what will come. I think it will be a good year for Clay and a good year for me even if that means sorting through some of the bad things that happened this past year.

I have a friend that will say “think of it as an adventure”. From the day Clay walked into the Atlanta AI auditions, it certainly has been an adventure. One I wouldn’t have missed for the world and one I look forward to continuing - not just in 2007 but in many years to come.

Always and Forever - thank you Clay.

Contribution from Berkeley:

On September 26, I saw Clay Aiken for the first and only time this year. It was Clay’s fifth --- and funniest --- appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” featuring a hysterically funny, quote-worthy interview, followed by a five song mini-concert.

As I stood there in the crowd looking up at Clay, one word came to mind.

(No, not that one! Not that I would admit in print, anyway.)

The word was confidence.

Clay knows what he is doing, knows where he is going and he is happy with his life. After a year few would have predicted for him, it makes me smile to see how self-assured and content he seems at the end of it.

Clay Aiken, blessed with a blue-moon vocal talent, is becoming even more than one of the finest singers of his generation.

On the Official Fan Club, there is a tantalizing piece of video --- I can’t link it, since it is exclusive content, but I can describe it here. Clay is sitting at a counter in the studio, working on a song with Emanuel Kiriakou, producer of two of the songs on “A Thousand Different Ways”. They go through the lyrics, the phrasing, the breaks: it is a rare look at Clay during the creative process of interpreting a song.

I wish I could see footage of the creation of another song. In the archive of my imagination, I hold a picture of Clay working through the lyrics of “Lover All Alone,” his magnificent collaboration with multiple Grammy-winning composer David Foster and producer Eman. It seems that Clay sat on the music for a couple of months, while his friend and executive producer Jaymes Foster urged him to try his hand at writing lyrics for the tune. In the end, Clay wrote his lyrics in a few hours.

As much as I love Clay, I’m not given to building pedestals. I hope for excellence (not perfection) from Clay, because he is very capable of meeting that standard. If Clay’s lyrics were just fair, if the song was pedestrian, if the production was mediocre, I would say so. (Lord knows no one will ever mistake me for the president of the “When You Say You Loved Me” Fan Club.)

“Lover All Alone” is a spare, bittersweet, and introspective work. It is sung wonderfully, poignantly, and with absolutely restraint. The lyrics are thematically mature, the song is sophisticated musically and it is arranged with a light but firm touch. Had any of my favorite five or six well-respected indie artists written this song, it would be the breakout hit of their careers.

“Lover All Alone” is one of the best songs of 2006, but there has probably been fewer than 25,000 downloads of the exclusive iTunes version of “A Thousand Different Ways” --- and that is the only way to hear this song. That is not just a shame for Clay and his fans: that is a loss for everyone looking for distinctive voices in music.

So what do I wish for Clay in 2007?

Health, happiness and hope.

Days filled with laughter.

An enduring love.

A rare vision.

Challenges overcome.

Respect --- and radio play.

His name at the top of the charts.

A chance to work with people who realize that Clay Aiken isn’t some piece of a franchise, he is sui generis.

And at the end of 2007, may “Lover All Alone” be considered the first great work from Clay Aiken, artist.

He'll still be my favorite goofball, though.

Happy New Year and many blessings to all!

Contribution from Shadylil:

We're at the end of year 2006 and as I reflect back, my thoughts turn to my internet friends, the friends I made on the message boards because of Clay Aiken.

I think back to what he went through via the tabloids and what WE went through, too. Because, you see, when you love someone, their pain is your pain. And I can't imagine that the tabloid rumors didn't hurt Clay deep inside.

The fans and friends on the message boards stayed strong and we banded together because we were tired of hearing all the negative crap about Clay, a guy who is just trying to live his life the best way he can.

So......What to do? What to do?

BLOGS! We decided to start blogs about Clay. Blogs about the man we know him to be, about the good things he does, about his wonderful voice and his compassionate heart and, oh yeah, we talked about his hair and his concerts. And some of us talked about pop culture and critics and radio. We were quite varied in our thoughts and opinions.

Quite a few people participated in the blogs and many, many more read them. We laughed and cried, we were funny and sometimes maudlin, but in the end, we learned a lot about ourselves.

Clay was absent for pretty much the first 7 months of the year with the exception of his spectacular appearance on American Idol. And what an appearance that was! He was the talk of the media for the next three or four weeks, then, nothing. Oh, the boards heard rumblings about the CD release, but we missed Clay. We missed seeing him and hearing him, watching him sing and watching him laugh.

September, 2006 saw the release of the new CD, a CD of covers (with four originals). The boards exploded with varying opinions about the CD, the song choices, the promotion, and Clay's appearances to promote the CD, but the one thing we all agreed on was that we were so happy to see him. Finally. At last.

His fans flocked to his TV appearances, watched him light the UNICEF star, and attended his annual Christmas Tour, where he sang backed by a full symphony orchestra and where he did at least four shows riddled with vertigo. He didn't cancel, he didn't give a lackluster performance, in fact, this tour was the best I've ever heard Clay sing.

I think all of the fans are looking forward to seeing what 2007 has in store for Clay and ourselves. A new year and a new start, for both of us. Bring it, Clay, we have your back, always and forever.

Contribution by MrNan:

All is well.

It started for me on AI2 when my wife called me into the den w/ “wow you should come and listen to this”. I moved quickly as these were pre-Tivo times.

I’ve been connected ever since and freely attend Clay Aiken events within a doable distance. And please note: doable has expanded greatly over the years . . . turns out to be defined, in my house anyway, as any location within the continental United States. We will expand globally as needed.

I had the splendid opportunity to see two of Clay’s 2006 Christmas concerts, and even got to the second row-center in Red Bank thanks to tickets from Teresa4624. Along with my wife, Corabeth & Cynical One (& everyone in the first 5 rows) we collectively had Clay’s back. If he fell we would catch him. I truly haven’t felt that level of “one goal” group bond since the 60’s. What a wonderful energy resides in those first sections of seats. It reminds one of Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre and the proximity of the audience to the actor. Where the audience is part of the event, where anything can happen. Even with much of Clay’s patter scripted, once you open it up to a live audience you can pretty much expect to kiss it goodbye.

But let’s talk about the MUSIC. When is the last time you listened to so much Christmas music? When’s the last time you cried listening to Christmas music? Over the years it’s become a “gimmick song” that everyone always picks up on, “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” style of songs. Thanks to All Is Well and two concerts, I’m filled with an amazing energy and inner peace. Don’t want to analyze it, just want to enjoy it. However My Grown-Up Christmas List is now owned by Clay.

If you ever questioned Clay’s talent (shame on u) this Christmas tour put that to rest. Full orchestra, All Is Well, Emmanuel – Please, his voice is an instrument! What a show.

The biggest crime of 2006 has to be how RCA handled (mishandled) A Thousand Different Ways, easily one of the best produced albums of the year, and what a fiasco the distribution of the disk was. RCA didn’t/couldn’t even press & deliver enough copies for the fan base, let alone anyone new. Not having Lover All Alone on a recording of love songs is just criminal. Can you get anymore obvious RCA? Nice business plan, take the high road. That was sarcasm!

Pray for Change!
Persevere . . .

Contribution by ConCLAYve-Nan:

Clay Aiken. That name seems to conjur up all kinds of emotions for people. For those who haven't seen him since AI, or those who only hear about him from late night comics or gossip sites - the image is far removed from reality. I recently played Lover All Alone and You Don't Know Me By Now for a good friend. She doesn't follow Clay's career and hasn't really seen him except for little bits on television. She knows about Ripagate only from reading or hearing about it. She never knew about the tirade made by Kelly or Kelly's comments about seeking solace from her good friend and bastion of good manners and respect for women (that's sarcasm), Howard Stern. She laughed like crazy when I showed her the pictures of Kelly with her hand over Regis's mouth. She was amazed that part of the story has been lost to the Rosie/Kelly fight which is much more "interesting" to lazy media people. She was floored by the two songs I played for her. She wrote me an email that said: "How beautiful and sad Lover All Alone was. And I really enjoyed the other song as well. I wouldn't have known it was Clay if I just happened to hear them somewhere." Of course she wouldn't. Her expectation of his music was formed by the media who perpetrate the same old myths. She is now anxiously waiting for me to send her a copy of A Thousand Different Ways.

So I sent her this picture and said this is what Clay looked like just a few weeks ago. Her immediate response: "Great shot of Clay - he looks hot! " Ummm . . . yeah

The NaJNT was an extraordinary experience for me. To see that man give so much of himself to his audience. To hear so much laughter. And then watch him move effortlessly to heartfelt singing was a relevation. The determination to fight through his illness in order not to disappoint was staggering. And he never disappointed. I saw an amazing man - a beautiful, radiant, fascinating man. An incredible voice in magnificent wrapping. A dorky, funny, bawdy, smutty, witty, silly guy. A courageous, fearless, tenacious person. A craftsman, a virtuoso. A painter with his voice. A valiant being. A mystery.

Thank you Clay. I've bought my ticket and I'm ready to board this magical mystery tour. I cannot wait to see what 2007 holds for you . . . and for me.

Oh - and just because I believe in truth in advertising - here's a real picture of Clay at the Unicef Snowflake Lighting.

Contribution from CB:

This has been such a rollercoaster year and not at all what I expected 12 months ago. Clay is such a good man and he had to polish those titanium babies so many time this year, it's a wonder he didn't break his zipper. (Then again, he did!) There were those who tried to separate us from him. Oh how foolish you are and how much you underestimated the bond that is here.

I said all summer that I would wait for the promo before I passed judgment and then it was hard for me to ultimately realize that RCA must have taken advance lessons in incompetency. From the covers mandate to the pulling of promo to the total lack of understanding Clay's iconic status in pop culture, they screwed up a good thing in a thousand different ways. Ironically, their lack of "getting" Clay and getting the fans may finally work in our favor for next year.

I'm hopeful, more than hopeful and I think in years to come we may look back on this year, as hard as it was, as a blessing in disguise. (All except one frog.) I sense a low level marketing hum out there, it's the kind of feeling that I had expected to have in the early summer. I like what I'm feeling, my marketing radar is pinging all over the place. All is Well.

How fitting that this year ended with the December tour where we saw not only Clay in great voice (even on days when a lesser entertainer would have easily called off the show due to illness that required he be helped on and off the stage) but we saw the real Clay burst forth. Quick as a whip Clay, unrestrained, happy, snarky, in control Clay. I realize these women do think I'm sexy, Clay. A Clay seemingly free from filter in both language and opinion. A Clay who had the bully pulpit and could roll his eyes and mock at the ridiculous from tabloid rumors to Ripa to the obviously agenda filled EW rankings. When he showed how stupid he thought they were, it made it easier for me to feel the same. It just seemed like everything in December, right down to the long hair, was so very Clay.

As we end this year, I wanted to offer my holiday thanks.

Jerome and all the Jerome Juniors: I'm counting on you.

Clay's “family” of Andy, Felix, Angela, Quiana, Daniel, Jesse, Jamie, Clarence. Thanks for being loyal friends and exceptional at what you do. (Jamie: Keep it long, honey.)

The Fosters:
David for understanding his talent and his potential, for treating him like a friend, a protege, a son and a brother all in one.

Jaymes, for ATDW and AIW with the Vox front and center, for putting up with the fans and sharing even though we aren't always the easiest ones to talk to, for standing by Clay through thick and thin, for being a “deep friend” and probably one of the reasons he smiles a lot, for loving him in whatever way it is that you do.

For Clay

I admire you more than I can ever say. Vocally, you astound me. Your comic timing is what legends are made of. Your strength and resolve is what I can only hope to achieve when faced with the adversity that confronted you this year. Your compassion for those who need help is something I hope to instill in my children.

We walked through fire together this year and the vast majority of us are still here, closer than ever it seems as you reached out to us and embraced us this December.

I believe that in 2007 we may know the purpose of 2006, or at least begin to see. I am hopeful that you will find/have found a label that is the piece to complete the puzzle that represents all that you desire.

Thank you for getting fat.

I wish you joy in your first Christmas in your new home.

I wish you comfort from those who are so troubled in this life that they seek to hurt you instead.

I wish you peace of mind over Brett's safety.

I wish you love from your friends, your family, your fans and a soulmate to “share your everything”, wherever she may be waiting.

God's blessing on you this Christmas.

Bring on 2007, the year we never looked back!

Contribution by ForeverYoung:

My blogs seem to have a theme, so why change it now. Here is my top ten list of What Clay made Me Do in 2006:

1. Clay made me retire in April after 30 years in the workforce so I could be free to travel everywhere he would be touring ... Of course he only did one tour at the end of the year when I was otherwise occupied and couldn't travel!

2. Clay made me buy a second home in Jacksonville, Florida so I would be able to accommodate out of town friends who were following Clay everywhere he would be touring... Of course my sleep sofa didn't arrive until the day after the Jacksonville concert
so anyone who wanted to stay over had to sleep on the floor! But wait until his next tour...

3. Clay is making me contemplate purchasing more homes in the other corners of the country so I'd have a jumping off point to follow Clay everywhere he would be touring ... This idea not only gave my accountant a heart attack, but had my kids consulting the yellow pages for a therapist.

4. Clay has made me smile, giggle, jump for joy, groan, moan, cringe, tingle, desolve into tears, laugh like a lunatic and act like a kid... All of which made me happy to be alive!

5. Clay made me traipse all over Connecticut looking for a Walmart that sold AIW... None to be found... but a dear Clay fan bought extra and mailed one to me.

6. Clay made me stay up way passed my bedtime attending a wonderful CD party somewhere in the heart of Connecticut and had me driving home at 2am in the morning with my car CD player blasting away on the Merritt Parkway... Passed only one patrol car on that dark and winding parkway... Got home safe and exceedingly happy and slept with a smile on my face in my Clay tee shirt that I won at the party

7. Clay made me buy multiple copies of ATDW

And then ...

8. Clay made me become an ITunes user and download customer allowing me to download and burn the same tracks, plus one special track - Lover All Alone

That track made me very sad but incredibly hopeful..

9. Clay made me connect with new Clay fan/friends from all across the world thru chats, cellstreams, blogs, message boards, concerts, luncheons, dinners and parties... All of which enriched my life immensely

10. Clay made me feel both sorrow and joy for humanity ... And I thought I couldn't be surprised at the cruelty in the world anymore or be amazed and inspired by the courage and grace exhibited by those under attack

Clay made me do all of the above and for that I will be forever grateful .

Thank you Clay and all my friends - I care about you very much - you bring me such joy... We are truly one very big amazing global family.

Contribution by Pink Armchair:

This was, undeniably, a tough year to be a Clay fan. We literally did not lay eyes on him for five months, from the end of December until the end of May. Nor did we hear much of him, either -- only ludicrous stories in the tabloids and lies perpetrated by the usual wannabes and bottom feeders who always seem to follow in the wake of celebrity.

And when Clay finally did surface, spectacularly, on the AI5 finale, he seemed to have reinvented himself (OMG, who is THAT guy?), and proved, reassuringly, that he was still capable of creating incredible media buzz without saying a single word (Prince was on the show? Really?). We had been hearing vague things about his travails with RCA, as the new album we all eagerly anticipated was eventually released, with inexplicably poor support from them. Which was tragic, because it's so good. We fans were baffled and did our best, but wanted so much more for him. Controversy seemed to dog him, no matter what he said or did.

And through it all, we wondered: Was he really happy? How could he be, given everything that had happened? Had the past year beaten him down? Were good things in store for him? Which Clay would appear when we saw him again?

I was fortunate to have tickets to the first two concerts of Clay’s holiday symphony tour, and had no idea what to expect. Well, I needn’t have worried. I said on the cellcert that first night that when Clay, looking gorgeous, walked out on that stage on the day after his 28th birthday, I had never seen anyone so happy to be anywhere. And it was true. He was as thrilled to see us as we were to see him, at long last. Undeniably, his relationship with us had changed -- we had been through the fire (tm David Foster, how appropriate!) with him, and now we were in cahoots. Clay teased us, joked with us, made fun of himself and the absurdity of his life, and knew we’d understand. And he gained a lot of new fans in the process -- even an unknown number of husbands and boyfriends who probably didn’t want to be there in the first place. He won over some critics, too.

Just as Clay seemed physically to have filled out and matured, his golden, incomparable voice showed a new beauty and richness as well. Yes, on this tour he was unwell at times, and his vocal problems sometimes reflected it, but he was still better on his worst day than most singers are on their best. And he doggedly went on with the show, when many other performers would have turned tail and run. That alone speaks more for his character and strength than almost anything else could.

Clay has given me far more -- new friends, new experiences, fun and excitement and love -- than I could ever hope to return. If 2007 brings him even a fraction of that happiness, I’ll be satisfied. Because nobody deserves it more.

Many of you are familiar with the great voice. For a glimpse at the great sense of humor - visit Clayigraphy. Believe me, you'll enjoy it!

Also - start off the New Year with a laugh - Jemock's 2026 - A Year In Review is fabulous!

And for more another Year in Review - visit Carolina On My Mind

And our very own contributor, Shadylil, has an indepth Year In Review that must not be missed at ClaySpots

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Anonymous said...


Invisible926 said...

Thanks for the great blogs! 2006 ended on a happy note for Clay and his fans. He once again showed us why we are still here. The best is yet to come! Bring on 2007 and new beginnings!!!

Anonymous said...

And it's just the beginning....of this Magical Mystery Tour.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great blog. What a tough year it was to watch as the hangers-on/wannabes/bottom feeders took their shots at Clay, but how proud I am to say I am a fan of this fantastic man. He has handled the dirt with such class and humor. He never disappoints. I can't wait to see what awaits. The bond is indeed strong.

Anonymous said...

Great reading as always. I can always count on feeling a bit better after I visit this site especially being snowballed with negativities from all the haters who doesn't seems to have anything else better to do. Have any of you checked out the Us poll: Idols We Still Love|Us Weekly Online? Clay is obviously winning but all the haters just refuse to believe it and claims all the "lonely old hags" have been spamming the poll etc. I even sent in a comment questioning where all the negativities are coming from and that nothing anyone say can sway Clay Nation's devotion and love for Clay, but they are still at it. It sickens me, but it is time like these that make us stick together stronger and stand taller by our MAN.

I also believe Clay's career has been mishandled and I hope he will have a chance to show the world his full potential and that 2007 will be a start of things being a lot better for him.

Best wishes and a Happy New Year to all.

Anonymous said...

What a great way to start off 2007 by reading these collection of reflections on Clay and 2006! So much of what was written resonated within me. Shadylil, Mr. Nan, ConCLAYve-Nan, CB, ForeverYoung and PinkArmchair...thank-you! One of these days, I'll have to register so I don't have to sign my comments "anonymous". Wishing you all a wonderful new year! Here's to hope and to many opportunities to see each other throughout 2007! anntherese54

Chardonnay said...

I enjoyed that great read and reflecting back on why and how we all came to be where we are... and where we hope to be going. I wish I could be more eloquent but I guess we all have to find our own unique ways of expressing those genuine feelings we hold inside. Good stuff ConCLAYve and thank you!

I hope I've gotten rid of that silly picture... cause it's a NEW YEAR! If not somebody let me know, hmm?

kyle said...

Someone NEEDS to get this to RCA ASAP !! whats their phone number? ! haha !