Monday, September 21, 2015

James Taylor

I blame it all on my older sister Leslie.

She had opened my eyes and ears to Simon and Garfunkel earlier and then she did the same for James Taylor. It was the summer between my junior and senior years in high school and all of a sudden there he was on the radio.

"Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone...."

Leslie sings, and sings quite well.

She is a soprano and has sung in Moscow and with The Seattle Opera. She was even in Time magazine for singing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Phillip Glass music don'tcha know. But at that time she sang in a kinda loose knit group.
My sister Karen, my Mom, my sister Leslie

I was at a bonfire one night and they sang "Fire and Rain." I remember two the girls looked at the guy, whose name is long forgotten, when he sang the lead. And how good the song was.

That was my introduction to James.

Mudslide Slim.

There are so many of his songs that are like old, dear friends of mine.

I've been singing "Sweet Baby James", for years. "In my Mind I'm Going to Carolina..." Love the intro to "Handy Man," "You've Got a Friend," "Shower the People You Love With Love," "Mexico."
I could go on and on...

I guess this is as good a time as any to ask that old chestnut--Does anyone sound like him? I'll go you one extra and ask does anyone's guitar playing sound like his?

The answers are no and no.

When I first met him I told James that "you and Mateus wine got me through my first foray into dating." He smiled and shyly thanked me.

It's true.

I asked him what do fans of his typically tell him? "People say many things," James said, "but a lot tell me how my music helped them through hard times. They hear a song and it takes them back to a great memory."
When I was a DJ at WNEW-FM in New York, maybe 1985...

Let's go back to one of  his biggest songs, "You've Got a Friend." Many folks think he wrote it.

He didn't.

Carole King wrote it.

He does it so well, you just assume he did.

When I was a young father I used to watch Sesame Street with my Maya. She must have been about three, we're watching, and who do I see?

James singing with a bunch of kids around him.

He sang,"This is a song about Jellyman Kelley. He loves jelly the most. Ah, but most of all, Jellyman Kelley loves jelly on toast." The kids sang the refrain and looked like they were having a grand old time.

It was so cool to be watching that show with my daughter and seeing James Taylor.

Jump way ahead to today and James has a new album out, Before This World. 

Still writing great songs.

One of my favorites is "Angels of Fenway."

It's about his beloved Red Sox. I like it and I'm a Yankees fan.

I'm a bigger fan of James.

One of my favorite lyrics of his comes from his song, "Secret O' Life." 

"The secret o' life is enjoying the passage of time." Those words speak to me more and more.

I wonder why.

James Taylor is part of the soundtrack of my life.

Thank you Leslie.

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