Friday, November 20

APNEWS.COM — James Taylor on how he takes a song and makes it his own

By Mark Kennedy

NEW YORK (AP) — Something happens when James Taylor covers a song. It gets all James Taylor-y.

“People often tell me, ‘It sounds like you wrote that song’ or ‘That sounds like a James Taylor song.’ And that’s because basically it’s been translated into my language,” the singer-songwriter told The Associated Press in an interview this week.

“Not all songs work in my language, but the ones that do — if they’re interesting or worthy of being recut — it’s because it’s nice to hear them in James Taylor.”

Fans are getting more classics translated into James Taylor on Friday with the digital release of three songs — “Over The Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” from “My Fair Lady” and “Never Never Land” from “Peter Pan.”

The trio of tunes never made it to Taylor’s “American Standard” album earlier this year, which contained such covers as “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” and “God Bless the Child.” Instead of leaning on a piano, they are guitar-led reinterpretations, often wistful and airy.

Taylor, 72, says he was intimately familiar with the songs picked for the album and new EP, having first heard many of them from his parents’ record collection growing up in North Carolina.

“I’d just try them on for size,” he says. “It was so easy and natural to pick up an instrument and start learning songs and reinterpreting songs and developing a sort of a simple guitar technique.”

The new batch of songs lean heavily on Broadway musicals, like the songwriting teams Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, as well as Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner. “I think they had a profound effect on my songwriting. They basically are my teachers,” says Taylor.

During the interview, Taylor was effortlessly thoughtful, moving easily from topics like the gentrification of Boston’s suburbs to what a revelation Chartres Cathedral must have been to a peasant hundreds of years ago. He’s well versed in Thomas Mann and Tolstoy.

Several times he noted that his guitar skills were somewhat limited and that his natural tendency to James Taylor a song is to lean on his own influences: Latin music, bossa nova and Afro Cuban. “It’s interesting to put songs into that vocabulary,” he says.

He is modest about his own songwriting, saying he usually sits down with a guitar and plays until he finds a melody — or “catching an idea,” as he puts it — and maybe a scrap of lyric. That is how masterpieces like “Carolina in My Mind” and “Fire and Rain” came about.

“There have been a few tunes that I just thought of while I was driving the car and I would reach for my phone and put down the line of lyric or melody — that has happened, too. But my feeling is that when that’s happening, I’m still inhabiting that place that I discovered and built by sitting down playing the guitar.”

The “American Standards” batch of recordings reunited Taylor with master guitarist and producer John Pizzarelli. The two had worked on Taylor’s 2002′s album “October Road” and his 2006 Christmas album.

Pizzarelli, who also has worked with Paul McCartney, Michael McDonald and Rosemary Clooney, calls Taylor an amazing guitar player and a talented harmonizer. “When you listen to the collection, he really James Taylor-ized them and not at the expense of the songs. He makes the songs better.”

Taylor says he recorded the covers, many at his barn studio in Washington, Massachusetts, not only to honor them but also to educate — reminding some younger listeners who might be looking for the next good thing of sonic past triumphs.

“I’ve got four kids and they’re all musical to a greater or lesser extent. So I’m constantly saying, ’Go listen to Lee Dorsey, listen to Ry Cooder, listen to Neil Sedaka,’” he says. “I am always recommending them.”

Whether he’s sitting down to rework someone else’s song or creating one of his own, Taylor somehow evokes feeling with his voice, a process that baffles even him. “You sing it and it summons the emotion. That’s the magical thing,” he says.

He marvels that songs like “Over There” or “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” can instantly create patriotic zeal. “You can have a couple of pints and sing it and feel it again,” he says, genuinely impressed. “How about that?”


Friday, October 16

#JTFanCover – “You Can Close Your Eyes”

Click now to watch the Brotherton family (father & husband, Dick, and their seven children, Beth, Rich, Jenny, Charles, Lucy, Phil and David) sing JT’s “You Can Close Your Eyes” for mother & wife, Elizabeth’s 88th birthday!

If you have a #JTFanCover to share from your personal YouTube or Facebook page, please click here to send us a link!

Wednesday, October 14

1014 – Vimeo test

Wednesday, October 14

1014 – Flightdecktest

Thursday, April 9

BOSTONGLOBE.COM – James Taylor pays tribute to a ‘hero of mine,’ John Prine

Singer James Taylor posted a statement mourning the late John Prine on Wednesday:

“I spent the past two years touring with Bonnie Raitt. She changed her set pretty much every night but, often as not, her half of our concert included John Prine’s beautiful song, ‘Angel From Montgomery.’ I know tonight that Bonnie is mourning the loss of one of our generation’s greatest singer/songwriters. John was taken from us by Covid19. For me, losing him makes this pandemic personal because John Prine was a hero of mine. ‘Christmas in Prison,’ ‘Dear Abby,’ Paradise,’ ‘Hello in There’ . . .

“Prine was one of those artists that really didn’t translate into the Pop Culture, attempts to explain or promote him were clearly painful to him: he wasn’t evasive or mysterious, he was just embarrassed. The genuine article. There goes a good one . . .”


Monday, February 3

CBSNEWS.COM — At 71, James Taylor still finds live performance “revitalizing”

Singer-songwriter James Taylor, 71, is still making music. However, he never envisioned still performing at his age, and says he gets revitalized in front of an audience, he tells “CBS Sunday Morning” anchor Jane Pauley in an interview to be broadcast Sunday, February 2.

Taylor’s half-century-long career includes such classics as “Fire and Rain,” “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Sweet Baby James,” to name just a few. He’s also had some ups and downs, including a well-documented battle with drugs.

He survived it all. “That’s remarkable, too,” Taylor said.

At his home in Lenox, Massachusetts, Taylor talked with Pauley about his hit-making career; his life; and his new album, “American Standard,” a collection of classic American songs – such as “Moon River” and “Pennies from Heaven” – that he’s reimagined for today’s audience.

There is also a new audio-only memoir, “Break Shot: My First 21 Years,” which is based on conversations with “Sunday Morning” contributor Bill Flanagan.

While he never imagined he’d be this age and still working, he’s also not letting up. Taylor will hit the road in the spring on a new tour. And he admits he still thrills at performing before an audience: “Live performance, some people love it, and other people – some are worn down for it. But for me, it feeds me. It’s a celebration.”

He said it’s “undeniably sort of revitalizing to have an audience react to a song they came to hear.”


Tuesday, February 26

TULSAWORLD.COM — Soft rock legend James Taylor brings chill factor to BOK Center

By Jimmie Tramel

James Taylor has of course seen fire and rain.

He saw chill in Tulsa.

Fans at BOK Center chilled out Monday night in the presence of a legendary singer-songwriter who put the crowd between a soft rock and a mellow place.

At many shows, BOK Center is speckled with illuminated mobile phones because concert-goers seem more interested in snapping photographs or recording video than watching a live performance unfold.

This had a different vibe.

During Taylor’s two-hour gig, and a Bonnie Raitt set that preceded it, eyeball surveys of the arena indicated the overwhelming majority of folks in attendance chose to soak in all the “now” they could get instead of letting their phones be in the driver’s seat.

Good call. “Now” was good stuff, and it felt genuine, just like a pre-show introductory video suggested. Said Taylor in the video: “I don’t present a character. I don’t present a version of myself. I present myself.”

Taylor then proceeded to deliver a performance that felt intimate, never mind the large crowd and large venue. He engaged fans in conversation. He shared stories about songs and about his career, sprinkling in enough humor to make you presume that a performer with a serious body of work (over 100 albums sold and a recipient of just about every award there is to offer) doesn’t take himself too seriously. He said many of his songs mean something to him and, before one of them, said “This one, not so much.”

Ultimately, what Taylor did was stage a clinic on how to ratchet up a show for a strong finish. The pre-encore segment of his performance closed with a 1-2-3 punch of “Your Smiling Face,” “Shower the People” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).” Fans were content to sit and be serenaded for much of the show. They were standing and singing along with Taylor by the end of the stretch of songs referenced above.

Raitt joined Taylor on stage for the encore and they paid tribute to Chuck Berry by performing “Johnny B. Goode.” That would have been enough of a punctuation mark if the concert had ended right then and there. But Taylor went back to his sweet spot for “You’ve Got A Friend” and he partnered again with Raitt for a closer, “You Can Close Your Eyes.”

Have you seen a headliner do this before? Taylor walked on stage at the start of the opening set just to introduce Raitt — and himself.

“In case you don’t recognize me, I’m James Taylor,” he said. “I’m glad to be back in Tulsa. It hasn’t been that long — just a couple of years. We hope we are not coming back to the well too often.”

Taylor said it has been a great privilege to travel and perform with Raitt, whom he called his “very favorite performing musician.”

Issuing an advisory to fans who hadn’t yet seen Raitt perform live, Taylor said, “Buckle up because your ride is here.

Taylor then turned the stage over to Raitt, who name-dropped pals from the Tulsa music scene during a set that included her most recognizeable songs — “Something to Talk About,” “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” and “Thing Called Love,” which she sang with Taylor. Also in the set: An interesting cover of the INXS song “Need You Tonight.”

Raitt said she was happy to be on the road with Taylor and called it a match made in heaven.

Taylor said he took a photo of himself next to a Garth Brooks picture in his dressing room and texted it to Brooks. Taylor called Brooks a dear friend. “Hello to any friend of his who might be in the audience,” Taylor said.

That story was not, as a giddy person across the aisle hoped aloud, a lead-in for Taylor to cover a Brooks song.

Taylor had plenty of his own gold to spin, beginning with “Carolina in My Mind” and continuing with songs like “Mexico,” “Sweet Baby James,” “Something in the Way She Moves” and “Fire and Rain.” It was all wonderfully chill.


Wednesday, February 28

Kevin Hays – Keyboards

Well, I’m not sure if it was my first but early on in the mid-80’s, while still in high school, I landed a gig at a soul food restaurant in the meat packing district of NYC. As I recall it I would play for 6 hours, was paid $60 and got 50% off the ribs (theirs, not mine).

I just started this past year, doing a couple of private gigs. This is my first tour with James, and I’m super-excited!

My first tour was in 1986. I left Manhattan School of Music after being invited to go to Spain with a NYC band that was heading over there. It was very exciting to encounter all the new people, places, food and other wonderful things!

A netti pot. Gotta keep those nasal passages clear!

Enjoying the crudités backstage. And I usually take a little quiet time to get centered.

Well, this is my first tour with James but so far it’s been a joy. He has such open energy and a heart that shines through, musically and personally.

Sunday, December 10

Sweet Baby James – Coming Soon!

We’ve been getting lots of questions from fans about the Sweet Baby James pop-up book. The release of the book has been delayed, but we’ll have some news for you soon. Stay tuned for an announcement in February!