December 2, 2019 | « back

ROLLINGSTONE.COM — ‘Handy Man’: 5 Practical Lessons We Learned From James Taylor’s Twitter


James Taylor told us he was a “handy man” way back when, but his Twitter is the ultimate reminder. His “Handy Man” fix-it posts are rife with important lessons and tricks.

Although the singer-songwriter uses the account for professional purposes — like announcing upcoming performances and hinting at new music — his tweets can also be lighthearted and humorous. He excels at hashtags (see his photos of his adorable pug, festooned with #puglife) and hilarious photos that read “Caption this!”

Most important are his fix-it posts, because, after all, he’s not the kind that uses pencil or rule. Most of the videos are shot at TheBarn, Taylor’s home studio in Western Massachusetts — where he’s currently recording his upcoming audio memoir. From making buttons out of pennies to inventing tools for callouses, here are five practical lessons we learned from his Twitter.

1. He vastly improved the boot jack.
Taylor gives a modern update to the boot jack, a device that’s used to remove the shoe by the heel. He lines it with speaker cable for a better grip — and also to prevent tearing the boot.

2. He invented a callous tool.
Every guitar player needs to keep their callouses in shape. Taylor made the ultimate DIY tool by drilling old guitar strings against a piece of wood. It’s especially helpful for new guitarists, who build stronger callouses with time. “You keep it in your pocket,” Taylor advises. “Work on your thing!”

3. He’s partial to an extreme flashlight.
Taylor sheds more than a little light with a ginormous flashlight. He explains his co-manager Michael Gorfaine’s quest to find the flashlight with the largest amount of lumens, and sends Taylor one with a whopping 100,000. It even comes with its own cooling system. “What is it used for?” Taylor asks the camera, before testing the device on his driveway at night. “Aircraft carrier landings, football games, forcing trees to go into bloom…I think he’s outdone himself now!”

4. He makes buttons out of pennies.
Taylor made a button out of a copper penny, complete with four perfect holes in the center.

5. He crafts the perfect setlist — literally.
Taylor constructs his setlists with an industrial paper cutter. He arranges individual cards with his songs on them and puts them on a wall. Famous tracks like “Mexico,” “Steamroller” and “If I Keep My Heart Out of Sight” can be seen in the clip.