tagCelebrities & Fan FictionAdventures of Hollywood Jim Ch. 75

Adventures of Hollywood Jim Ch. 75

byhollywoodjim©

The city of Nashville held many good memories for me, both in terms of business and pleasure. Back when Chris and I ran East Cost Image, our work caught the attention of Vanity Fair magazine who chose us to photograph Carrie Underwood outside of the famous music hotspot, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. In the process I'd struck up a friendship with a country music impresario named Mike Jensen, who introduced me to Gretchen Wilson, Miranda Lambert, and especially to Julianne Hough.

One music star I'd only met once, and who somehow remembered me, was Taylor Swift. How we met again was a weird coincidence.

"I didn't know you still did ad copy." I said to Jeff Murphy, my boss at Artists Unlimited.

"Well, it's a complicated arrangement, but yes, we do."

"Complicated or not, I think it's pretty cool."

"You're just saying that because it's ad copy for a guitar company and you're a frustrated rock star."

"Who isn't?" I said with a smile and comical shrug.

Unbeknownst to me previously, Artists Unlimited still did occasional photo work for advertising agencies. And in this case it was for Taylor Guitars. So when they started a big ad campaign promoting their guitars, who do you think was the natural choice?

Right, Taylor Swift.

And who got to take the pictures?

Like I said, complicated or not, it was a pretty cool arrangement that would take me back to Nashville.

She'd been using Taylor guitars for some time but this was the first real promotion she'd done for them, and she had the clout to choose who would take the pictures, so doing the photos in Nashville was a natural.

Looks like all I had to do was show up.

Once I'd arrived in Nashville, I went straight for the Gruhn guitar store that had recently moved to its new location, far off the main drag in Nashville, but still well known as the place for vintage instruments. Mike agreed to meet me there and we'd discuss the shoot with the company reps. My eyes were transfixed on the variety of guitars hanging on the walls, all I needed was the money.

"Hey, there's the man himself!" Mike said as he walked in and saw me eying a vintage Stratocaster "Gonna do a little shopping?"

"Oh, sure. All I need is...a LOT of money." I said as I looked at its price tag.

"Yeah, well what else is new?" he laughed.

Being in the store gave me ideas for the shoot, the Taylor reps were interested and appreciated my thoughts. I thought it would be cool to photograph her in the store with the other vintage Taylor models as well as the newest ones.

"You won't have to go far for those." the rep said "I'm sure she'll bring her own, adds a little authenticity don't you think?"

"Good thinking, Bill." the other rep said as he got out his cellphone "I'll call her now, we can get started this afternoon."

"Wow, she's in town?" I asked, trying not to sound excited.

"She does live here, you know."

"I'll line up the gear." Mike said as he took out his own "Anything you'll need, Jim?"

And with that, the wheels started turning. Mike got the store manager to close early so we could work in relative peace.

"You're lucky we're in the new location, the old one..." an older gentleman wearing a gaudy Hawaiian shirt said as he shook his head and walked away.

"You've told me that one before, George." Mike said

I watched the man and turned to Mike.

"Oh, that's George Gruhn," he said "He opened this place years ago, supposedly Clapton got that famous black Start of his here...right, George?"

George stood behind the counter and mumbled something, like he was sick of that story.

Maybe he was sick of us, too.

An hour later, as I checked my Nikon cameras, lenses, batteries, etc. I could see a black Mercedes G-Wagon SUV pull up.

"Right on time, that's my girl." Mike said as he went outside.

I couldn't help myself and tried to get a look, sure enough it was her.

Taylor and Mike breezed into the store, the last time I'd seen her was onstage at a huge music festival with Miranda Lambert and Julianne Hough. That time, she had her typical blonde curls and white sundress on. The "America's Sweetheart" look, as it were. This time though, she looked gorgeous. Her hair was straight but with just enough of a flair to set it apart and show off her eyes once she removed her stylish dark sunglasses. Her slim frame was accentuated by black slim-fit jeans and a green striped long-sleeve shirt

"Hi! You must be Jim." she said with a perky voice as she hugged me, she had a beautiful perfume on that made me close my eyes and inhale it "I remember you from the big festival. So good to see you again!"

"Yes, you, too. That was a great show you did that night."

"Great? Oh god, I screwed up the words to that song so bad!" she laughed, remembering that she had joined Miranda & Julianne in a rowdy version of the old Faces song "Stay with Me"

"All I could remember to sing was 'stay with me...staaay with me'" she said.

"I guess with a song like that the looser it sounds, the better."

"Yeah! I never thought of that!"

I explained my idea for the photos and just as Mike had expected, she'd brought her own guitars. My eyes began to glaze as I saw the cases brought in and wondered what treasure might be revealed. I was not disappointed.

Taylor casually pulled out a huge 12-string acoustic made of some exotic wood.

"What do you think of this one?" she asked me

"Man...what kind of wood is that?"

"I think it's some kind of Hawaiian wood, they made it special for me." she said as she ran her nails across the strings and a big sound came out of it "I don't play this one as much as I should. It really sounds good, I'll say that."

Another case held a lipstick red acoustic she'd been using on her last tour as well as variations on the signature model made for her. It was fairly simple with elegant flowers painted around the body.

Over the next hour I took dozens of photos of her with the guitars, she seemed to enjoy the process.

"Didn't you take that photo of Carrie out on the street somewhere?" she asked

"Oh, yes...that one came out better than I thought."

"You're telling me! You were so lucky with that shot." she laughed.

"Well, uh, luck of the shutter, I guess."

An assistant carefully approached us now.

"Taylor, we have that event tonight we need to get ready for." she said

She turned to me now.

"We're all set here, I'll send the photos over tonight." I said with a smile "Thank you so much."

"Oh, thank you! It was really nice working with you, Jim." she said as she hugged me again "I'll call you tomorrow."

With that, she breezed out of the store, her guitars soon followed.

"Good job, Jimbo." Mike said as we shook hands and I felt him hand me something.

"All in a days' work." I replied.

As he walked away, I looked in my hand and found a carefully folded hundred dollar bill, make that several carefully folded hundred dollar bills.

"All in a days' work, indeed." I thought to myself.

As I expected, the pictures turned out great and I emailed them to her manger and the reps from Taylor guitars. They were enthusiastic about them and wanted to setup a meeting in LA with our people.

So now it was just a question of staying in Nashville an extra day to play tourist on the company dime, or heading home.

To my surprise, I got a call on my cell, from an unknown number.

"Hi, Jim! It's Taylor!" said the perky voice on the other end "Are you on your way back to LA?"

"No, as a matter of fact I wasn't sure if I'd play tourist or traveler."

"Good! I looked at your photos, and they were great...but I've got an idea for some more photos, are you interested?"

"Uh, sure...I've still got my gear here. I think I could work something out."

"Great! I'll send a car for you, how 'bout that?"

"Sounds good to me."

An hour later, a Chevy Suburban picked me up and was soon headed far from the city, up into the mountains.

At a large wooden gate, the driver clicked in a security code and the gate opened, just up the road was a small log cabin on a hillside facing a lake. I got out and the cabin's front door opened, Taylor came out, wearing jeans but with a shawl wrapped around her to ward off the chill in the air.

"Hi! Come on in!" she said happily "Welcome to my getaway home."

Inside the rustic cabin she had a fireplace going and there was a real mountain cabin feel, as expected. A baby grand piano was in the corner along with 2 guitars and a laptop computer. A wooden ladder led to an upstairs loft with a large brass bed with a colorful patchwork quilt that looked like it was from another era.

"It always gets cold up here so I keep the fireplace going." she said

"It's OK, I'm from Connecticut so I'm used to cold weather." I said looking around "This is a neat place."

"Yeah, it's where I come to do my writing if things get too crazy for me. Let me show you the back."

Taylor led me to a back porch overlooking the lake.

"I had this idea of doing photos of me with my guitar sitting on the porch, or even by the lakeside. Could that work?"

"Yeah...good idea." I said nodding "We should probably do it while the light's still good out here, I didn't bring any lights."

"I've got some old-fashioned clothes too, will that be good?"

"If you think it is, let's try it."

"Great!"

The natural light cooperated and Taylor looked even better with her guitars and the old fashioned dresses and peasant blouses she was famous for standing by the lakeside.

"Let's do a couple on the porch." I said

"Can we do them with my other guitars? It kinda figures into my next album."

"Uh, sure, what have you got?"

Taylor soon produced an old fashioned National steel guitar that had seen many miles and many stages.

"Wow...what a beauty!" I said

"Yeah, I just got it, I've just been playing around with it so far."

I got my camera ready.

"Play something, it'll be a cool shot."

"I can't play anything on it yet."

"But you can look like you do, right?"

"Oh, yeah...duh!"

Taylor put a metal slide on her finger and began playing some rudimentary slide guitar. It wasn't Duane Allman, but it could be in the photos I took. Especially in the sepia-tone setting I set the camera on.

"What do you think?" she asked with a withering expression, like she expected the worst.

"I've always loved the sound of a Dobro no matter who's playing it, you did fine."

"Thanks." she said with that smile of hers "Let's go inside, it's getting' chilly out here."

Taylor brewed a pot of herbal tea that quickly warmed us up.

"How often do you come up here?" I asked as I setup my Ipad to view the pictures.

"Whenever it gets too crazy for me, I'm trying to write songs for the next album."

"How's it coming?" I asked as I snapped a photo of her pouring a cup of tea. She was a little startled, then laughed.

"It's going good, I might start doing demos soon. Let's see those photos."

Taylor's two cats looked up at me as I sat down on the couch.

"I hope you like cats." she said

"Yes, I have one of my own." I said as I showed her a photo on my phone of Smokie.

"Oh, my god, how adorable!" she said happily "What's its name?"

"Smokie."

Taylor turned to her own cats.

"Well, this is Meredith and that one is Olivia Benson."

Taylor was slowly stroking one cats' fur and smiling non-stop as she saw each photo I took, and even happier at the black and white ones I took.

"Wow, these are so cool!" she said with a smile, then with a playful grab of my arm said "Wow, I love this one." as she she looked at the ones of her with the old National. The sepia setting gave it a real old-fashioned look.

"You're really good, how long have you been doing this?" she said excitedly.

"Couple of years, I guess I learned fast."

"You sure did. I really got into photography when I started out, I made a whole video on my laptop just from photos I took on the road."

"You've got the advantage there."

"How?"

"I don't know, I've never been able to make photoshop work the way it's supposed to."

"You're right, it's tough sometimes."

"Did you ever see the photos from the festival you were at?"

"NO! My god, I'd love to see them!"

A few clicks and the folder opened to the Nashville Festival where she made a surprise appearance. With every shot of her onstage with Miranda and Julianne she smiled more and more.

"Man, Julianne sure is pretty." she said

"Well...you've got something in the looks department too." I said boldly.

"Oh, yeah? Like what?"

Uh-oh, now I'm stuck.

"Um...elegance."

Taylor stared at me with a soft look of appreciation.

"You think so?"

I nodded.

"You have it too." she said softly.

"Thanks." I said shyly.

"Hey..." she said in the same soft tone. I turned and she placed her hand on my cheek and drew me in for a kiss.

"Was that elegant?" she asked.

"Very."

I now kissed her, she had beautifully soft lips.

"Was that elegant too?" I asked

"Oh, yeah..." she said slowly as we kissed again.

"I hope I'm not being too, um, forward with you." she said

"No, not at all."

"I just get a little nervous at times like this, I'm not...you know..." her voice hesitated as she tried to find the words.

"You don't need to say it." I replied as I held her hand.

There was a long silence between us.

"Anyone ever tell you you're a sweetheart?" she finally said.

"Um, I think you're the first."

Taylor looked at me with that soft smile of hers.

"Come on..." she said as she took my hand and led me to the ladder.

Once we reached the top, she pressed a button by the brass bed and a Japanese-design screen came out from the walls and closed in the bedroom. Taylor began to light small candles that gave off a soft glow. She gracefully draped herself on the bed and beckoned me with her finger.

"Pretty cool, huh?" she said with a little giggle as I joined her.

"Yes, very. I've never seen anything like that."

"I like it, this way I can have an open floor but some privacy if I want it."

"The candles are nice too."

"That's for something special." she said softly as we kissed again, deeper this time.

The more we kissed the more I felt like something wasn't right.

"Uh...maybe I should..." I began as I sat up and loosened a button on my shirt.

Taylor had a look of shock on her face.

"Wait a minute!" she said and sat up suddenly, now with a fierce look of anger on her face.

"...take off my boots?" I said innocently "The quilt looks rather pretty, I figured you'd like to keep it that way?"

Taylor's hand went to her mouth and her eyes rolled. I said nothing as I untied my Doc Martens boots, but I was smiling.

"Oh...my...god!" she said "I am soooo sorry!"

Once my boots were off, I lay close to her while she tried to get over this little embarrassment.

"I thought you meant, well, something else." she said.

"Well, the something else is nice too...but so is this."

Taylor and I kissed again.

Outside, the sound of thunder could be heard in the distance.

"Ohhhh, a rainstorm." she said softly "I love the sound of rain up here...it's so peaceful..." her voice fading.

Taylor curled up close to me and as the waves of steady rain were heard on the roof, we were soon asleep.

I was still in my clothes from the day before when I awoke. Taylor was still asleep next to me, though she'd changed to an oversize t-shirt sometime during the night.

I sat up and checked my watch, it was seven AM.

Taylor breathed in and turned to look at me.

"Hi...morning." she said softly with a smile.

"Morning."

She breathed in again and sat up.

"Oh...I'm sorry I fell asleep."

"Well, I did too...blame it on the rain, I guess."

She leaned in and kissed me.

"I'm sorry we didn't...you know."

I nodded.

"I understand, it's something special."

"You're not mad?"

"Why would I be mad? I came up here for pictures, right? And we got 'em. I say that's a pretty good deal."

She nodded.

"I think you're a special guy, it's just I'm not ready for...something like that. Not now, that is."

"No need to apologize." I said as I lightly kissed her forehead "How 'bout I buy you breakfast?"

"Might have a long drive, you know. There's not a lot of drive thru up here."

"So...what would you recommend?"

"Me. I can cook too, you know."

"Well, then...get into that kitchen and shake those pots and pans." I said with a little bravado.

Taylor gave me a sweet smile and we went back down the ladder.

"That sounds like a song..." she said.

"Yeah, one that's older than the both of us."

Taylor drove me back to Nashville in her Mercedes.

"You do great work, Jim." she said as we pulled up to my hotel and I got out.

"I'll call you soon, we should do some more photos when the weather's better." she said through the open driver's window as I stood alongside.

"You got a deal." I said.

She looked around and gave me a quick kiss through the window.

"Next time..." she said into my ear.

That could mean a lot of things, I thought, as she drove away.

I hadn't been inside the lobby more than 5 minutes and was looking forward to a long shower and maybe some extra sleep when I heard Mike Jensen's voice calling me across the lobby.

"Whoa! Glad I caught you." he said breathlessly as he ran up.

"Don't give yourself a heart attack, Mike, it's only me."

"No, no...I was trying to call you but your phone kept going to voicemail..." he said before suddenly adding "You know, you've got a pretty lame voicemail message."

"Never mind that! What did you need to tell me?"

"Oh! Got a hush-hush gig for you to photograph."

"Here?"

"Yes, tonight at Tootsie's."

"OK, who?"

He looked around the lobby.

"Juliette Barnes."

"You mean Hayden Panettiere."

"No, tonight, she's Juliette."

"How do they plan to pull this off?"

"Well, Tootsie's doesn't exactly advertise who's playing there. They're counting on more of a curiosity factor than advertising."

"Is it gonna be filmed for the show?"

"Yes."

"Can't wait to see how they'll get the cameras in there."

"They already have, let's go."

It was a beautifully warm evening in Nashville, music was filtering out of every bar on the main drag. In front of Tootsie's, it was like any other evening with aspiring musicians on its tiny stage by the window. Outside on the street was a large chalkboard with that evening's performers written on it. Among them, and in small letters, was "Juliette Barnes". Mike and I looked around and he pointed out the tiny cameras temporarily mounted from the ceiling and walls. Mike explained that the "real" camerawork would be handled from a control truck parked on a side street.

"Where'd they get that idea from, the FBI?"

"Very funny, I think it's a cool way to promote the show."

"OK, I'll give you that." I said "So, when does the star arrive?"

"She already has." he said with a smile and pointed to the bar stool next to me. On it sat a short girl wearing glasses, her hair tucked under a camouflage US Army ball cap.

It was Hayden Panetierre, incognito.

"Juliette, I think you know..."

"Oh, knock it off, Mike!" she laughed "Hi, Jim! It's been awhile." she said adding that big smile she was famous for.

"What should I call you?" I asked

Hayden looked upward, like she was thinking.

"Well...how 'bout yours?" she said in a flirty tone before laughing again.

"Not a bad idea."

"Now, now kids...let's be professionals here." Mike said.

The club's manager stepped in and told her it was time for her to go on. The "curiosity factor" had worked in her favor as the club's patrons seemed to be looking around intently wondering if they read the board outside correctly.

Hayden joined two guitar players on the small stage, took off her cap and glasses, shook her blonde hair loose and flashed that mega-watt smile of hers to an audible gasp from the crowd as they realized who they were seeing.

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