Wednesday, September 7

FORBES.COM — Business Lessons Learned From James Taylor

By Roberta Matuson

This past Tuesday night, I saw James Taylor and his All-Star Band play at the brand-new MGM Music Hall at Fenway Park. What a venue and what a performance. Here are some business lessons I took away from Tuesday night’s show.

Shower the people with what they want. Taylor’s show was chock full of hits from years ago, which is probably no surprise given that he has enough hits to fill two shows. In a recent television interview with Steven Colbert, Taylor was asked if he ever thought about playing a hipper version of some of his oldies. He responded by saying that the fans are coming to hear the songs they know. Not some jacked-up version of a song they remember.

As business leaders, sometimes we lose sight of why our customers do business with us or why employees choose to work at our firm. To keep up with the latest trends, we may instead shoot ourselves in the foot.

For example, some high-profile companies are now pulling back on maternity and paternity leave. A study recently conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management found that employers offering paid maternity leave beyond what is required by law dropped to 35% this year, down from 53% in 2020. Companies are also downsizing paternity-leave programs. The share of employers giving paid paternity time off fell to 27% in 2022, from 44% in 2020, the SHRM survey found.

No doubt other companies will soon be doing the same, thinking this new trend is worth following. Do so at your own peril, as employees feel more stressed at work than ever. Cutting back this important benefit that many treasure will surely increase employee turnover.

Age is just a number. Taylor is 74 years old and is still going strong. His voice is as good as it was fifty years ago. I’m sure some people would argue that a 74-year-old man should no longer be on stage. Tell that to his highly talented All-Star Band, whose members included “seasoned” musicians who may have been older than Taylor.

Why is it that when people reach a certain age, they are no longer considered desirable by many organizations? People always reach out to me seeking advice on overcoming age discrimination in the workplace. Their concerns are real.

5 Practices For Being A Responsible Critic At Work
Here in the U.S., we currently have 11.2M jobs, which, indeed, some of these older workers are qualified to fill. So why aren’t we giving more consideration to seasoned workers? Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who is 45 years old, is considered ancient in the football world, yet his performance is still something to see.

It’s time for companies to focus more on the results an employee achieves and less time worrying about their age.

Family matters-James Taylor has finally figured out the key to work-life balance. His family is part of his tour. Both his wife and son are backup singers.

Employees today are left on their own to figure out how to balance work and their personal lives, which may help to explain why today’s workers are more stressed than ever.

Work-life balance policies aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on if employees don’t feel comfortable taking advantage of these policies. Leaders need to set the standard.

For example, leaders leaving work at a reasonable hour, signals to others that they should do so. More transparency on shared calendars will also help shift the tides. Rather than blocking out your calendar with fake meetings, note that you are unavailable due to a family obligation.

When creating after-work events to celebrate employees, consider inviting family members to participate as well.

Allow employees to work from home when needed.

Encourage vacation time even if that means mandating paid time off.

Making work-life balance a priority for your employees can significantly increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and your company’s reputation in the marketplace. So, why not try some of the examples above and realize the rewards?

As for me, perhaps the most important lesson I took away from Tuesday’s performance is that when you love what you do there is no reason to ever retire, as long as you’re still on top of your game!


Friday, August 26

BOSTONGLOBE.COM — Singing has worked just fine for James Taylor

By Lauren Daley

It feels fitting that Red Sox fan James Taylor will be playing some of the first shows at the MGM Music Hall at Fenway, Boston’s brand-new, 5,000-person concert venue.

“I’m a Sox fan. I’m a Boston boy. I love Massachusetts. I love New England,” says Taylor, 74, in a phone interview from his Berkshires home. “We’re not perfect, God knows. But . . . whenever I get home to Massachusetts, I breathe a sigh of relief and say, you know, the rest of the world may be going to hell, but I live in Massachusetts.”

Born in Boston in 1948 to Isaac Taylor, a Harvard Medical School graduate, and Gertrude Woodard, a New England Conservatory of Music student, Taylor and his siblings — Kate, Livingston, Hugh, and the late Alex — were raised largely in North Carolina and Martha’s Vineyard. Taylor attended Milton Academy.

He met his wife, Kim, then working for the Boston Symphony, at a Pops concert. Composer and conductor John Williams later walked her down the aisle in 2001. The couple settled in the Berkshires and have twin boys, Henry and Rufus.

Among Taylor’s career honors: a half-dozen Grammys, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a 2016 Kennedy Center Honor, and this year, an honorary doctorate from the New England Conservatory. Maybe it doesn’t rank among those achievements, but it looked like fun: Earlier this month he also completed a weeklong “musical residency” on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

But, of course, he’s seen fire and he’s seen rain. He’s battled depression and addiction, both of which he discusses in his audio memoir recorded at his Western Massachusetts home, “Break Shot: My First 21 Years.”

Ahead of his two Boston shows Monday and Tuesday, Taylor talked with the Globe about his start in the music business, kicking heroin, reassessing his priorities during lockdown, and thoughts on retirement.

Q. You opened your audiobook memoir by saying you’re a “professional autobiographer.”

A. I basically write about my own experiences. I have friends who are songwriters, specifically Carole King, who for the first part of her career was basically a hired gun. She’d come in and write a follow-up single, bespoke material. I don’t get a whole lot of covers [of his music] because it’s not written necessarily for that. For better or for worse, it’s been a process of sharing my experiences lyrically.

Q. What are your most personal songs?

A. “Fire and Rain” or “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.” “Rainy Day Man.” The earlier, confessional, up-close-and-personal stuff.

Q. In the audiobook, you talk about your family’s struggles, and how you’ve been trying to figure out your family.

A. To a certain extent, we’re programmed by our family experience and by the role we find for ourselves in the family. When you’re trying to figure out what makes you tick, you’re trying to figure out what kind of programming you were accommodating in the beginning, how and why that continues to work for you, work against you, keep you trapped.

Q. Was the audiobook cathartic?

A. It wasn’t that intense because it’s all familiar stuff — I’ve thought about it a lot. So not so much cathartic as it was grounding. It summed up the first 20 years for me, contained them. It was a useful thing.

Q. You also talked about your heroin addiction.

A. That was a major event. I’d say 17, 18, maybe 20 years actively addicted, on and off. I also got a lot done in those years, they were productive times, too. But yeah, that’s a big part of my story. I was 35 when I sobered up in 1983. I’m lucky to have made it through. I think I was self-medicating. It was never much fun, let me put it that way. It rapidly became a maintenance situation, my relationship with opiates.

My way of dealing with it was rigorous physical exercises. I’m talking about three hours a day, six or seven days a week. Eventually I just wore myself out — my knees went. But that’s another conversation, if you want to get what the challenge is, physiologically, of trying to get people clean.

Q. So you quit cold turkey.

A. Well, cold turkey is like two weeks. The problem is six months later, two years later. That’s the challenge.

I had [tried] methadone maintenance treatments, but nobody ever told me about the 12 steps, or about the only available or functioning way to get clean. Finally, a friend of mine, a sax player named Michael Brecker, saved me.

Q. By introducing you to the 12 steps?

A. Yeah, and telling me that abstinence is the only option.

Q. True. And so going backward here to your childhood, you started out on cello.

A. My mother wanted all of us to have an instrument, or at least give it a try. I don’t know how much the choice was mine.

Q. [Laughs] Right.

A. I was a terrible student for four years, but came away with some good tools. But ultimately what you need is a relationship with your instrument, feedback that’s rewarding. It’s not a matter of discipline or pleasing somebody, it’s a matter of pleasing yourself. At that point, it’s like a fire that catches.

Q. When did that happen for you?

A. I was about 12. I told my parents I’d like a guitar for Christmas. I was interested in a Fender Stratocaster but ended up [getting] a cheap nylon-string classical guitar. That got me started.

Q. Why guitar?

A. It was the great folk scare of the early ‘60s. It was very accessible music, by definition, easy to get into. I loved those songs and I loved playing them. It was a social thing, too. Much more socially appealing than cello.

Q. You played in the Flying Machine.

A. That was in ‘76 and ‘77 in New York City. Before that, my [late] brother Alex and I were in a band that he basically put together [The Fabulous Corsairs]. We did frat parties, prom dances, sock hops for pennies.

Q. Did you play on the Vineyard?

A. I played [there] solo mostly. There were lots of open-mic nights. Club 47 [now Passim] had a summer campus in Oak Bluffs called The Mooncusser. There was a club in Boston called The Unicorn, they had a summer version in Oak Bluffs, The Unicorn Cafe. In 1970, I was 21 or 22 years old, and [folk] manifested on college campuses in a way that we haven’t seen anything like it since. It was a cultural movement that had amazing dynamics and energy. Anyone who got to ride that wave was lucky.

Q. How did you go from the Vineyard to Apple Records?

A. I was playing with my friend Danny Kortchmar. We were leaving home in 1967, ‘66. Kootch already had his own apartment in New York and was engaged to be married — he was a couple of years older. I was 18, and after leaving McLean Hospital [in Belmont, where Taylor had been treated for depression], I followed him down to New York with another friend of ours, Zach Wiesner. [We later] moved into a burned-out floor in the Hotel Albert. We were able to, on the cheap, rehearse, and get started.

[After a bad record deal] I went back home and licked my wounds. I had a college fund which I mostly spent at McLean Hospital, but there was some left, and I got a plane ticket to London to visit a friend and started peddling my songs. Danny Kortchmar had been with a group [that] backed up Peter and Gordon, an English group. Kootch had a telephone number for Peter [Asher], and as luck would have it, he’d just started looking for talent for Apple Records, the Beatles label.

I got a first album out of it. [Then] Peter went to Los Angeles and we made a second record for Warner Brothers, “Sweet Baby James,” which did well enough for me to get up on my wheels and start moving. So that was the progression. Throw in a couple of marriages and addiction and recovery and a couple of kids and it’s actually a pretty short story.

Q. [Laughs] So what was lockdown like for you? Did you stay in Western Mass.?

A. We were skiing in Montana when everything closed down. We got trapped out there, which was great. I think in June we came back to Massachusetts. It was a quiet time and really interesting. I think it broke the spell that a lot of people had been in unconsciously.

Q. What do you mean?

A. Well, I think there’s just a certain amount we’re driven to just keep producing, to turn the treadmill up faster and faster. Basically, I think people started asking themselves, “Why do I really want to go back to that?” It’s like a spell was broken, in terms of working overtime, succeeding. You’re encouraged to go, go, go. Meanwhile your time’s running out. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are reconsidering how they live their lives.

There are different ways to measure success — the obvious ones: How many toys have you got? How many people’s lives do you control? Another way of looking at it is: Are you of service to anyone? Are you contributing anything to your culture?

Q. Did it make you look at anything differently?

A. Yeah, it’s made me think about — well, I’m also [almost] 75. I can’t tell whether it’s COVID reconsideration or whether retirement is creeping up on me. Although I’m about to leave on a European tour that’ll take me through Thanksgiving.

Q. Can you see a time when you’d retire?

A. Oh, absolutely. The mind may be willing, but the flesh is weak. So far, [touring is] great — I love it. Maybe two years away from it taught me how much I missed it.


Friday, July 29

BILLBOARD.COM – Leonard Cohen Tribute Album, ‘Here It Is,’ to Feature Iggy Pop, Norah Jones, James Taylor & More

By Gil Kaufman

An all-star roster of singers, songwriters, rockers, pop singers and jazz greats have come together for the Blue Note Leonard Cohen covers album Here It Is: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen. The 12-track album due out on Oct. 14 will feature original takes on some of the late songwriter’s most beloved tunes from the likes of Iggy Pop, Norah Jones, Peter Gabriel, Mavis Staples, David Gray, Sarah McLachlan and James Taylor, whose hushed version of Cohen’s 1984 track “Coming Back to You” is out now.

“When Larry Klein invited me to participate in a Leonard Cohen tribute album, I accepted immediately,” said Taylor in a statement in reference to the album’s producer. “Both because Larry is a great producer of excellent recordings and a good friend, and because, like almost everyone in my generation, I venerate Leonard Cohen. As soon as I began seeking out my own musical preferences, Cohen’s songs were among my few favorites and had a major influence on my own progression as a songwriter. For the project, I was drawn to a relatively obscure piece that was new to me, ‘Coming Back To You.’ Larry opted to cut the song in Cohen’s original key, which was certainly at the bottom of my own range. But somehow moving me out of my comfort zone helped me find my own approach to the song. Like so much of Leonard Cohen’s writing, this lyric resonates deeply with his forlorn and hopeless take on the bleak landscape of love and attachment. So, breathe a deep sigh and, drink up…”

Grammy-winner Klein, a longtime friend of Cohen’s, explained the genesis of the project in the album announcement released on Thursday (July 28).“Leonard Cohen had been a friend since 1982 or so, and in the last 15 years of his life, he became a close friend,” said Klein. “He was possibly the wisest and funniest friend that I had, and someone that I enjoyed, immensely, in every way. After he passed away, I found myself frequently covering his songs with other artists that I was working with. One reason, of course, is that the songs are so good—in a certain way, Leonard is the best pop songwriter ever—but the other reason was that it helped keep him in the air around me.”

Klein assembled a killer band of jazz-based musicians to back up the all-star roster, including acclaimed guitarist Bill Frisell, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Nate Smith, with producer Greg Leisz sitting in on pedal steel guitar and Larry Goldings playing the organ. McLachlan takes on Cohen’s most beloved, oft-covered track, the haunting meditation “Hallelujah,” which, like Taylor’s cover, comes from 1984’s beloved Various Positions album. Pop, meanwhile, holds down the other end of the career spectrum with his take on the coal-black title track to Cohen’s final album, “You Want It Darker.”

The songs cover the waterfront of contemplative crooner Cohen’s romantically fraught tone poems about love, death and everything in between, reaching all the way back to the singer’s 1967 debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, through to his final effort, the sublime You Want It Darker, released just days before his death in 2016 at age 82.

“It was an immensely gratifying experience to recontextualize these poems, and shine a different light on them,” said Klein of the songs that range from fan favorites to deep cuts. “I hope that this musical language that we developed together, the context that we put these things in, makes the songs connect with people in a new way.” Klein said that the result is similar to the concept behind the 2007 Grammy-winning Herbie Hancock Joni Mitchell tribute album, River: the Joni Letters, which featured a song with Cohen.


Friday, July 29

ROLLINGSTONE.COM — Norah Jones, Peter Gabriel, James Taylor Tapped for Leonard Cohen Tribute Album

By Emily Zemer

Blue Note Records will release Here It Is: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, featuring 12 covers of Leonard Cohen’s songs, on Oct. 14. The collection was produced by Larry Klein and features contributions by Norah Jones, James Taylor, Nathaniel Rateliff, Peter Gabriel, Iggy Pop, Mavis Staples, and more.

The 12 tracks offer a range of Cohen’s compositions, spanning work from his 1967 debut, Songs of Leonard Cohen, to his final album, You Want It Darker, released in 2016. Taylor’s intimate take on “Coming Back to You,” from Cohen’s 1984 LP Various Positions, is the first listen from the album.

“When Larry Klein invited me to participate in a Leonard Cohen tribute album, I accepted immediately,” Taylor said in a statement. “Both because Larry is a great producer of excellent recordings and a good friend, and because, like almost everyone in my generation, I venerate Leonard Cohen. As soon as I began seeking out my own musical preferences, Cohen’s songs were among my few favorites and had a major influence on my own progression as a songwriter.”

He continued, “For the project, I was drawn to a relatively obscure piece that was new to me, ‘Coming Back To You.’ Larry opted to cut the song in Cohen’s original key, which was certainly at the bottom of my own range. But somehow moving me out of my comfort zone helped me find my own approach to the song. Like so much of Leonard Cohen’s writing, this lyric resonates deeply with his forlorn and hopeless take on the bleak landscape of love and attachment.”

To record the tracks, Klein gathered a core group of jazz-based musicians: guitarist Bill Frisell, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Nate Smith. The album features additional contributions from Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar and Larry Goldings on organ.

“It was an immensely gratifying experience to re-contextualize these poems, and shine a different light on them,” Klein said. “I hope that this musical language that we developed together, the context that we put these things in, makes the songs connect with people in a new way.”


Tuesday, July 19

FAYETTEVILLEFLYER.COM — Review: James Taylor and his world-class band set the tone for a perfectly calm concert at the AMP

By Kevin Kinder

Just before the music started on Friday night (July 15) during James Taylor’s concert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, the audience was shown short video clips of amateur artists covering songs by the man of the hour. The setup, theme and language used in the videos followed a pattern – they were personal statements directed toward Taylor, explaining why his songs meant so much to so many people.

Taylor found tremendous success, particularly in the 1970s, with a series of deceptively simple folk songs. Tunes like “Fire & Rain” and “Carolina in My Mind” became part of the folk rock canon, as did his work with Carole King and his cover of her song “You’ve Got a Friend.”

He would play each of those three songs – and about 20 others – during his first Arkansas concert since 2019 as a group of musical pros flanked him on all corners of the AMP stage.

Taylor’s most popular songs were never “lively” numbers, and with the exception of the bluesy track “Steamroller,” the evening played out very calmly. Chairs were brought in for the lawn, and for the first time at any show I’ve watched at the AMP, every patron there was seated at the same time, with the exception of those grabbing another drink.

The evening was broken up into two sets – each about an hour long – with a 25-minute intermission in between them. Taylor spent both sets spanning the American songbook while also diving into genres such as jazz and the blues. His band was up to all tasks. It featured seasoned players such as Steve Gadd (who has worked with Simon & Garfunkel, to name one act) and Lou Marini, a woodwind player famous for his time in Earth, Wind and Fire and the “Saturday Night Live” house band. The output was a massive undertaking. In addition to Taylor and the aforementioned band members, on-stage personnel included four backing vocalists, a guitarist, a bassist, a combination organist/trumpeter, a percussionist and a keyboard player. The set was otherwise sparse – there was a large tree that arced over a main video board. The images that played on the video board were mostly pastoral – in other words, a good match for Taylor’s songs.

He and the band felt more dialed in during the second half, and his vocals seemed stronger too. Taylor had a good time, to be sure. He sometimes scatted and played with his cadence and vocal rhythms almost to the point of self-parody, but never quite reaching that threshold. Perhaps because he was always smiling his way through the songs.

The same could be said for most of the (seated) audience members. Taylor fancies himself as a comedian, and he told some terrible jokes along the way. He would agree with my assessment of those jokes, telling the crowd that the old jokes were the best ones.

His between-song interjections provided most of the levity of a slow, methodical evening. And that’s what his audience paid to see – a serious look at some old songs that refuse to age just yet.


Wednesday, June 1

UDISCOVERMUSIC.COM — Watch James Taylor’s ‘Soldiers’ From 1971, With Carole King On Piano

By Paul Sexton

James Taylor’s official YouTube page has shared the latest archive performance selection by the great singer-songwriter. It delves back into his second appearance on the BBC’s In Concert series, broadcast in November 1971, when he was 23 years old.

The track is “Soldiers,” from his hugely popular album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon. Taylor is accompanied on piano by his fellow breakthrough artist of the day, Carole King, as well as by Leland Sklar on bass and Russ Kunkel on drums. He begins by mentioning how short the track is, as indeed it is on the LP, but it retains its waltz-tempo charm, with some lovely piano detail by King.

“I thought it was half a tune, actually, when I started to write it, which was about four years ago,” he says, “but I never got anything else on it, so I guess it’s finished. Of course I could be wrong…”

Roy Carr’s review for the New Musical Express of Taylor and King’s concert a few months earlier at the Royal Festival hall enthused: “From the outset you just can’t but help having a warm affinity for James Taylor. Seemingly all arms, legs and baggy trousers, Taylor shyly lopes on stage, almost like someone’s kid brother who aimlessly intruded upon a private discussion.”

Speaking to writer Keith Altham in Petticoat in October 1971, Taylor said of his gentle style: “I don’t think music needs to be so obvious and loud that it shatters and batters the ear drum and all other parts of the party. The only really good loud group I’ve heard was The Who – I did a concert with them in the States. I just believe that what I do is best taken in and consumed by the brain at an easy pace.”

Taylor’s 2022 tour with his All-Star Band arrives in Columbia, SC, on June 21, with shows until the end of July. He then appears on August 20 at the John Williams: The Tanglewood 90th Birthday Celebration, before starting his European tour on September 19 in Madrid.


Friday, May 6

519MAGAZINE.COM — When I Grow Up I Wanna Be Like James Taylor Was in London, Ontario

By Dan Savoie

When I grow up, I wanna be just like James Taylor was at his show in London, Ontario. At 74, the iconic singer-songwriter has more energy than my 54-year-old self will ever have. His recent concert at Budweiser Gardens in London on April 30 was evidence of a man who enjoys life, performance and the ideology of a good song. He was also joined by Jackson Browne, a headliner in his own right.

With a nearly two-hour performance that saw Taylor moving and jumping much like the 50-year-olds touring out there, his 519 area fans were not disappointed. Having to wait two years to see the legendary performer hit the Forest City was the furthest thing from their minds once the first couple words of Country Road came bursting out across the arena.

It was as good a James Taylor set as you’d ever get. With 19 studio albums and countless other recordings to choose from, one can never be truly satisfied, but this setlist covered all the basis, including a stellar version of Easy as Rollin’ Off a Log, a rare 1930s song from the Warner Brothers cartoon Katnip Kollege he covered on his last album American Standard.

His voice is still silky and smooth and he even had a little fun with facial expressions and body movements with his blues parody Steamroller Blues, which originally appeared on his 1970s album Sweet Baby James.

One of the reasons this tour is amongst the best out there is Taylor’s touring band, which includes an A-list of studio and touring musicians, such as horn player Lou Marini (best known from his days in The Blues Brothers, on Saturday Night Live and with Blood Sweat and Tears); percussionist Luis Conte (Phil Collins, rod Stewart, Madonna and more); guitarist Michael Landau (Michael Jackson, Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd and others); pianist Larry Goldings (his list is so long, it would take this whole article just to list them); keyboardist and horns by Walt Fowler (Matchbox Twenty to Nancy Sinatra to The Dark Knight soundtrack); bassist Jimmy Johnson (Peter Cetera, Ray Charles, Roger Waters and many others); Michito Sanchez (one of Los Angeles’ top studio and live percussionists); drummer Steve Gadd (Simon & Garfunkel, Eric Clapton, Chick Corea and many others); and keyboardist Kevin Hayes (Bob Beldon, Eddie Henderson and more). It truly is an all-star band.

Joining Taylor on vocals were long-time backup singers Kate Markowitz, Arnold McCuller and Dorian Holley. Between the four of them (including Taylor), the four vocalists have performed on hundreds of records and worked with a wide array of musicians including Bonnie Raitt, Phil Collins, Lyle Lovett, Vince Gill, Todd Rundgren, George Jones, Luther Vandross, Billy Joel, and Cher.

The four-song encore, which allowed the vocalists to step up front, included a gorgeous version of his tender song Shed A Little Light. For many, this was a highlight and the point when they took to their feet. The team of vocalists had a chance to shine on the track.

Jackson Browne London, Ontario April 30-22Photo: Dan Savoie
Jackson Browne performs live at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario on April 30, 2022.
Taylor was joined by his special guest Jackson Browne for the remaining three encores, which included the Eagles mega-hit Take It Easy, originally written by Browne and Glen Frey. The show closed with the hit You’ve Got A Friend and the touching You Can Close Your Eyes, which Taylor wrote for his then-girlfriend Joni Mitchell while they were in New Mexico for Taylor’s acting debut in the 1971 film Two-Lane Blacktop.

At this point, it became crystal clear. I must strive to be James Taylor for the rest of my life.

Guest, Jackson Browne, performed a modest 11-song set filled with sprinkles from throughout his career. Fans knew it was going to be a good show when he opened with Somebody’s Baby, a 1982 hit song from the soundtrack to Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Browne, who’s just one year short of Taylor, is a bit more of a rocker at heart. His scruffy beard was a bit of a surprise for fans that might not have seen him live since the 80s or 90s, but that’s the only place where Browne’s age shows. It felt much like a Browne concert in the 90s, as was much of the material.

Three of the songs, tossed into the middle of the set, were from his last album Downhill from Everywhere, an album that doesn’t get the recognition is should, due to the pandemic. Fans were a bit more passionate about well-known songs like Somebody’s Baby, the 1972 hit Doctor My Eyes, 1978’s Running On Empty and the 1977 choice cut The Pretender. It would have been great to hear hits like Boulevard and Lawyers In Love, but for a shortened set, this was a fan-pleasing time-capsule.

For Browne’s last two songs, he was joined by Taylor in engaging versions of The Pretender and Running On Empty.


Friday, April 29

BROADWAYWORLD.COM — Grammy Winner James Taylor Announced as Speaker at New England Conservatory 151st Commencement

By Chloe Rabinowitz

New England Conservatory President Andrea Kalyn and the Board of Trustees announced multiple Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter James Taylor as the commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient at the Conservatory’s 151st annual commencement exercises, which will be held in-person on Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.

The ceremonies will take place in historic Jordan Hall and will be streamed on NEC’s website ( NEC will bestow honorary Doctor of Music (hon. D.M.) degrees on: James Taylor, who will deliver his commencement address at Jordan Hall, as well as David Amram, noted conductor and composer, and Ella Jenkins, regarded as the “First Lady of Children’s Music.” Pianist Emanuel Ax, who received an honorary degree from NEC in 2021, will extend an online greeting at this year’s commencement.

The ceremony also will include a special message from by Ukrainian cellist Denys Karachevtsev, who captured the world’s attention when he played Bach’s Cello Suite No. 5 outside the bombed out remains of the regional police headquarters in the city of Kharkiv in March 2022. For more on Karachevtsev, please visit Washington Post and Reuters.


Monday, April 25

TORONTOSUN.COM — James Taylor talks Canadian tour, Joni Mitchell, new music and retiring

By Jane Stevenson

James Taylor has been walking down a country road for more than five decades now, but the 74-year-old singer-songwriter can still see the horizon in the distance.

In fact, Taylor is currently in Canada on a 12-date trek that includes a May 1 stop at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, with Jackson Browne opening.

“I guess once you sort of start reaching these lofty figures, you start thinking about, ‘How long can this go on?’ ” said the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, down the line from his Martha’s Vineyard home while in pre-tour mode.

“But it’s my main thing. The centre of my life is touring and playing for my audience. I still love doing it and the band is in great shape. I’ve never had any realistic thoughts about (retiring). I know it’s somewhere in the mix.”

Taylor also points to having “role models like Ray Charles and Tony Bennett, people who continued to (make music) — in Tony’s case through his 80s and into his 90s. Same thing with Ray Charles. It’s the most consistent thing — along with family — in my life, and I’m not really quite ready to let it go yet.”

Taylor’s original Canadian trek was supposed to happen in 2020 with Bonnie Raitt opening, but it got sidelined twice by COVID-19. He was able to still get in some U.S. dates with Browne, a pal from their early ’70s Laurel Canyon days. The two are playing in each other’s sets.

“It’s been so great working with Jackson and I think our audiences are a good blend,” said the six-time Grammy winner.

“We were born in the same year (1948), came up around the same time. I never really lived in L.A. I was always an East Coaster myself. But my band was always out there and I recorded out there. So, yeah, there were a couple of intersections such as the Troubadour Cafe, and places where it was sort of predictable that both Jackson and I would end up. And we shared a band for a while. We recorded with the same people and it was a very tight-knit and close group of artists and people in those days.”

Back then, Taylor also dated Canadian Joni Mitchell, whom he was supposed to honour at her recent MusicCares event held in conjunction with the Grammys, which were moved from January in L.A. to April in Las Vegas due to the pandemic.

“I was due to play it when it was in January, but my twins turned 21 that same weekend (in April), so I had to keep our plans to have their birthday celebration,” said Taylor, who shares twins Rufus and Henry (who sang and played on Taylor’s fall tour in the U.S.) with third wife Caroline Smedvig.

“I was scheduled to play her song, The River, her song about Christmas in Los Angeles, such a great tune, and that’s a song I have recorded on a Christmas album I did. And then on that Joni album Blue (1971), which people have been focusing on at its 50-year anniversary, I played on four of those songs — A Case of You, Carey, California, All I Really Want — and the tracks on that album were very sparse, very little instrumentation, so working with Joni … it’s wonderful to listen to that album and sort of relive those days, in the early ’70s.”

As for playing in Canada, the Boston-born Taylor said his daughter Sally, from his first marriage to Carly Simon, and her husband are trying for Canadian citizenship.

“Coming from New England, it’s familiar,” said Taylor. “But at the same time it’s definitely a different place. I don’t know … in many ways, I envy Canadians. Canada has done a better job with so many things. It’s absurd to generalize about it. I can’t really pretend to be an expert or anything, but I love my Canadian audiences. I love the experience of going there, and travelling there. It feels good to me.”

During any COVID-19 lockdowns, Taylor said while it was “awful” not to be able to perform, he enjoyed spending time with his family and did write some new songs. His last album was 2020’s covers album, American Standard.

“I’ve got a bag full of new ideas and songs, musical ideas I’m working on,” he said. “I don’t have particular project in mind yet.”

Taylor, who’s been open about his struggles with depression and heroin addiction (he overcame the latter in 1983), says it probably hasn’t been easy for others who are isolated during the pandemic.

“It’s sort of like a spell was broken,” he said. “I didn’t find that it woke any demons up in me. Always the best cure for me for depression, has been exercise, to get your blood moving. Early on, I found that, particularly for opiate addicts, just physical exercise, get up, take a walk, take hike, go to the gym. It’s easy to say, hard sometimes to do. It definitely was what saved me.”

James Taylor’s remaining Canadian tour dates (He launched his tour April 21 in St. John’s, Nfld.):

April 24 Halifax Scotiabank Centre
April 25 Moncton Avenir Centre
April 27 Ottawa Canadian Tire Centre
April 28 Montreal Bell Centre
April 30 London Budweiser Gardens
May 1 Toronto Scotiabank Arena
May 5 Winnipeg Canada Life Centre
May 7 Calgary Scotiabank Saddledome
May 9 Edmonton Rogers Place
May 11 Victoria Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre
May 12 Vancouver Rogers Arena


Tuesday, January 4

UDISCOVERMUSIC.COM — Watch James Taylor And Son Henry Play ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’ On Recent Tour

By Paul Sexton

James Taylor has shared a new video clip of himself and his son Henry performing “You Can Close Your Eyes” live at the Honda Center in Anaheim on October 30. The collaboration came at the end of that night’s show on Taylor’s extensive North American tour with Jackson Browne.

“Henry and I worked up this old tune of mine that we want to leave you with,” the beloved singer-songwriter tells the audience. “Thank you again for making tonight possible for us.”

“You Can Close Your Eyes” was a memorable part of Taylor’s breakthrough 1971 album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, and also became the B-side of his US chart-topping single “You’ve Got A Friend.” It had been recorded by his sister Kate, who released it some three months before her brother’s LP was released, on her Sister Kate album.

The song continued to expand its audience when Linda Ronstadt covered it on her own career-changing album of 1974, the Grammy-winning No.1 set Heart Like A Wheel. It has also attracted some 50 versions since, including those by Richie Havens in 1976, Sheryl Crow in 2006, and Taylor’s ex-wife Carly Simon in 2007, with their children Ben and Sally Taylor.

“JT” and Carole King also performed the song on the arena tour that produced their Live At The Troubadour album in 2010. That tour will be commemorarated in Frank Marshall’s imminent documentary Just Call Out My Name, which will premiere on January 2 at 9pm ET on CNN, also livestreaming on CNNgo.

Taylor will be part of the MusiCares 2022 Person of the Year event, as part of its Grammy week activity, in Los Angeles on January 29, honoring another career-long friend, Joni Mitchell. He was himself the recipient of that award in 2006. He will begin his Canadian tour with Browne on April 21, on which dates continue until May 12. James’ delayed European tour will begin in September 2022.