James’s introduction – Williams College, June 7, 2009
James Vernon Taylor, Doctor Of Music
Probably the first person ever to grace this stage as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you have sold more than forty million albums, won multiple Grammys, recorded with the Beatles, drawn enormous audiences, and become such an iconic part of the culture to have appeared on Saturday Night Live, in a Disney movie, and even, yes, The Simpsons. The cover of Time magazine dubbed you the model for the era of the singer/songwriter that you more than anyone helped to launch, reviving the centuries-old tradition of the troubadour, who sings his heart as a way of making sense of love and life. Every guy who behind closed doors picks up an acoustic guitar and croons into a makeshift microphone imagines himself being you, from the most gangly teenager to at least one college president. More broadly you have helped our culture publicly imagine what it means to be a sensitive male, full of emotional intelligence and not needing to smash his guitar to make a point. In the end, you have touched us, not just your Berkshire neighbors but the world, by showing that the lyrical telling of a life story, even one punctuated with fire and rain, can be oh so sweet.
I hereby declare you recipient of the honorary degree Doctor of Music, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.
June 7, 2009
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