Monday, November 05, 2007

James Taylor

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”~James Taylor

James Taylor - "Secret of Life" – 1992

At his home in Massachusetts during his pre-tour rehearsal.

James Taylor

From Wikipedia
and James Taylor - Official Website

James Vernon Taylor (born March 12, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, born in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Taylor's career began in the mid-1960s, but he found his audience in the early 1970s, singing sensitive and gentle acoustic songs. He was part of a wave of singer-songwriters of the time that also included Joni Mitchell, Tom Rush, Cat Stevens, Carole King, John Denver, Jim Croce, Don McLean, Jackson Browne as well as Carly Simon, whom Taylor later married.

James Taylor - Long Ago and Far Away

His 1976 album Greatest Hits was certified diamond and has sold more than 11 million copies. He has retained a large audience well into the 1990s and early 2000s, when some of his best-selling and most-awarded albums were released.

Early years
James Taylor grew up in Carrboro, North Carolina, where his father Isaac M. Taylor was the dean of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine from 1964 to 1971. His family spent summers on Martha's Vineyard.

Early career
Taylor first learned to play the cello as a child in Carrboro (near Chapel Hill), and switched to the guitar in 1960. His style on that instrument evolved from listening to hymns, carols, and Woody Guthrie. He attended Milton Academy, a prep school in Massachusetts, and summered with his family in Martha's Vineyard, where he met Danny Kortchmar. The two began playing folk music together. After dropping out of school, he formed a band called The Fabulous Corsairs with his brother, Alex. Later, he was committed to McLean Hospital for depression. He earned a high school diploma while in the hospital, and then left and formed a band called the Flying Machine with Kortchmar and Joel O'Brien in New York City. The band was signed to Rainy Day Records and released one single, "Brighten Your Night with My Day" (B-side: "Night Owl"). The single was not a success. (A UK band with the same name emerged in 1969 with the hit song "Smile a Little Smile for Me".)

While living in New York City, Taylor became addicted to heroin. One night, after receiving a desperate phone call, his father drove to New York and "rescued" him. Taylor later wrote a song called "Jump Up Behind Me" that paid tribute to his father's help during a time of desperate need. The song also reflects on Taylor's memories of the long drive from New York City back to his home in Chapel Hill.

In 1968, Taylor moved to London. He was signed to Apple Records after sending a demo tape to Peter Asher (of Peter & Gordon) and released his debut album, James Taylor. Despite the Beatles connection, and the presence of Paul McCartney and George Harrison on one track, the album did not sell very well, and Taylor's addiction worsened. Moving back to the United States, Taylor checked into a hospital to treat his drug problem in Western Massachusetts outside of Stockbridge (where he lives today). By 1969 he was well enough to perform live, and had a six-night stand at the Troubadour Club in Los Angeles. On July 20, 1969 he performed at the Newport Folk Festival. Shortly thereafter he broke both hands in a motorcycle accident on Martha's Vineyard and was forced to stop playing for several months.

Once recovered, Taylor signed to Warner Bros. Records and moved to California keeping Asher as his manager and record producer. His second album, Sweet Baby James, was a massive success, buoyed by the single "Fire and Rain", a song about his experience in an asylum and the suicide of his friend, Suzanne Schnerr. The success of this single and the album piqued interest in Taylor's first album, James Taylor and propelled the album and the single, "Carolina In My Mind", back into the charts.
Taylor worked with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys on a film, Two-Lane Blacktop, but this was unsuccessful at the time. 1971 saw the release of Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, another hit album. He won a Grammy Award for his version of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend".

In 1972, Taylor returned with One Man Dog and married fellow singer-songwriter Carly Simon on November 3.

The joy they had performing this song is evident in this video!
Mockingbird - Carly Simon and James Taylor

James Taylor & Carly Simon - Close Your Eyes

His next album, 1974's Walking Man, was a disappointment but the following one, Gorilla, was a success partially because of a successful single cover version of Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)". This was followed by In the Pocket in 1976 and then a greatest hits album that included some re-recordings of Apple Records-era material. It became a huge hit and remains Taylor's best selling album.

Taylor signed with Columbia Records and released JT in 1977 winning another Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for his cover version of "Handy Man". The snazzy song "Traffic Jam" from the album has since become a favorite jingle for rush-hour radio traffic reports.

After collaborating with Art Garfunkel and briefly working on Broadway, Taylor took a two-year break, reappearing in 1979 with the cover-studded album Flag featuring a Top 40 version of Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "Up On The Roof." Taylor also performed at the No Nukes concert in Madison Square Garden and appeared on the album and the film from the concert.

1980s and 1990s
In the early 1980s Taylor's career was again beset by drug problems. Additionally, Taylor's wife, Carly Simon, was unhappy with his extended absences due to touring. After an ultimatum that he spend more time with their children, Taylor responded with the 1981 album Dad Loves His Work. He and Simon divorced in 1983.
In 1985, Taylor married his second wife, actress Kathryn Walker, who helped him through recovery of his substance addictions. According to Taylor, he remains clean and sober to this day.
Taylor's two albums of original material from the 1990s were notably successful. His thirteenth album, New Moon Shine, went platinum in 1991 and he won the Grammy for Best Pop Album in 1998 for Hourglass.


In 2001 Taylor wed for the third time, marrying Caroline ("Kim") Smedvig. Part of their relationship was worked into the album October Road, on the song "On the 4th of July". The couple has twin boys, Rufus and Henry, born in 2001 to a surrogate mother via in vitro fertilization.
In 2002, Taylor teamed with bluegrass musician Alison Krauss in singing "The Boxer" at the Kennedy Center Honors Tribute to Paul Simon. They later recorded the Louvin Brothers duet, "How's the World Treating You?"
In 2004, after his Columbia/Sony record contract was not renewed, he released James Taylor: A Christmas Album with distribution through Hallmark Cards.
In December 2004, Taylor appeared as himself in an episode of The West Wing entitled "A Change Is Gonna Come". He sang Sam Cooke's classic "A Change Is Gonna Come" at an event honoring an artist played by Taylor's wife Caroline. Taylor's rendition was then released over the Internet.
In 2006, Taylor performed Randy Newman's song "Our Town" for the Disney animated film Cars. The song was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for the best Original Song.
Taylor performed the National Anthem at Game 2 of the World Series in Boston, Mass. on October 25, 2007.

James Taylor - Fire and Rain (Beacon Theatre)

James Taylor "Still Crazy After All These Years"
Taylor's performance at the The Library of Congress
Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in honour of Paul Simon.

James Taylor's music embodies the art of songwriting in its most fundamental form. He has been at it for decades: transforming introspective meditations into lyrics, melodies and harmonies that comfort and reassure the listener with the sense that these sometimes painful, sometimes celebratory moments are a part of life, shared by us all. In 1971, James was featured on the cover of TIME magazine, who heralded him as the harbinger of 'the singer/songwriter era". Today, the quintessential singer/songwriter has seen that era crossover into the 21st century. James currently resides in The Berkshires with his wife, Caroline and their sons Henry and Rufus.

Starbucks will Release:
'One Man Band' DVD/CD: November 13, 2007

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Blogger mrhaney said...

very good post raggedy. i have always liked james taylor. i was born in massachusetts myself and i like people that come from there. he has a good voice though and he seems like a very nice guy.

November 04, 2007 11:06 PM  
Blogger Jeanette said...

Hi Raggedy, very nice music i enjoyed listening to it,,
LOl hehehe the dancing cow...
Take care {{{{HUGS}}}}

November 05, 2007 4:15 AM  
Blogger Skunkfeathers said...

I don't listen much to James Taylor these days, but he had a good run of easy listening material in the 70s ;)

November 05, 2007 4:20 AM  
Blogger SandyCarlson said...

Thanks for this bio of this wonderful musician whose music was a part of my childhood! How I love his work. His Christmas album of a few years ago is also wonderful.

November 05, 2007 4:44 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

I have always liked James Taylor and his music. Good, informative post, Raggedy!

November 05, 2007 6:55 AM  
Blogger Monica said...

I always liked James Taylor. I liked Carly Simon even more. I really like your music posts. :)

November 05, 2007 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love these informative posts! And I've always enjoyed James Taylor. That was fun!

November 05, 2007 12:00 PM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

Yeah, that's good. But what I'd like to see is one or two (or three/four) bits on banjo players. I can never get enough banjo.

November 05, 2007 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's footage of JT singing the national anthem at Game 2 of the World Series this season. Enjoy!:

November 07, 2007 8:27 AM  
Blogger OldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh My, how I enjoyed this post....I love James Taylor...Always have....There is a gentleness about all that he does that suits me just fine...And the Music is lovel and the Words, always understandable and Brilliant! Thank you, my dear....!
This is Monumental!

November 08, 2007 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James - if you read these things - Ellen DeGeneres is wrong - I LOVE it when you change up your songs each time you sing them - in fact, it's one of the things I like best about you. I saw James Taylor first time in a Faileigh Dickinson University cafeteria in 1970-71 with Carole King opening - Have loved him ever since.

November 16, 2007 8:46 AM  
Blogger Dust-bunny said...

Hi there...this was a great post. I just love James Taylor, and his easy melodies and creative lyrics are things I never grow tired of.

I dream of one day living in the country, and when I listen to his songs, I can almost feel myself there. One of my favorites is "Carolina in My Mind"...I wrote a post of how I "go to Carolina" in my own mind--even though I won't end up in a Carolina--but listening to the song, I can see the sunshine and I can definitely feel the moonshine in my future country home!

He's just one of the greatest artists around. Thanks for a lovely post.

February 09, 2008 8:32 PM  

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