October 22, 2012 | « back

THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE – James Taylor takes tour hiatus to focus on new album

Written by: Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff

In a quest to complete his first new album of original songs in 10 years, James Taylor plans to suspend touring for the full year of 2013, hunkering down at his home and studio in the town of Washington to prepare for the recording project.

Taylor revealed his intention to take a break from the road during a conversation with The Eagle on Friday.

“I’m taking the year off, I’m not touring, I’m trying to write an album,” he said.

Asked if that meant no Tanglewood appearances next summer, Taylor responded: “It’s difficult to play Tanglewood without booking at least a month of work, because I can’t pull my band together for one gig and have them miss out on other work. These guys need to fill their schedules if they can.”

However, he added, “We’re still talking about whether or not there’s something I can do at Tanglewood. But I’ve told my band we’re not going to do a big tour, it’s going to wait until I’ve made the new album.”

The goal is to have the album released by the summer of 2014, he said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”

He acknowledged that “it’s hard to take the year off, there are a lot of very compelling things that come up and it’s amazing how the entire calendar fills up.”

“For three years in a row, I’ve intended to take the fall off,” he said. “I have to get really serious about it, and yet offers come along from old friends and things I’d love to do, and also the opportunity to work and bring home a paycheck. It’s very hard to turn work down.”

As Taylor put it: “They say if you work for yourself, you have the toughest boss available. You’re reluctant to turn things down, but I’ve really got to write this album, it has to happen now. It’s certainly worth a try.”

Back in the Berkshires after four weeks on the campaign trail performing at rallies and fundraisers for President Obama’s re-election campaign, Taylor said he’s committed to one more event for the president, a “living-room concert” in Norwich, Vt. — a “high-cost ticket” event to raise money for the campaign, Taylor explained — and to do one more event for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Most of his performances in recent weeks have been aimed at raising funds for field offices to maximize the grass-roots orientation of the Obama campaign, said Taylor.

His road trip for the effort has included appearances in North Carolina, his boyhood home, as well as stops in Detroit, Nashville, Atanta, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, San Francisco, the Silicon Valley of northern California, and Santa Barbara, Calif.

“We’re just trying to do the best job we can and let go of the results,” said Taylor, sitting with his wife, Kim, who has accompanied him on the road as a vocalist along with Boston Symphony Orchestra cellist Owen Young.

“Kim and I love this president and feel it’s really important that he continue for another four years with the vision he has for the country,” Taylor said. “We made ourselves available to the campaign, asked what we can do, and it’s been very spiritually invigorating and uplifting to be in contact with the people working in the campaign.”

Taylor called the cascade of campaign financing “kind of crazy” in the wake of the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that opened the floodgates to unlimited spending by unidentified political action groups.

“It was a real mistake and not what the country wanted,” he said. “The country has been trying to get the money out of politics, anonymous money from God knows where. I think it’s a distraction and confusing to people.”

Taylor said he finds it difficult to watch the presidential debates because of their “combative nature. I find them confusing and off the point.”

“There are things to be learned about how a candidate handles the camera and the stress,” he said, “but aside from that, I feel what’s needed is a forum in which people express their vision and their plan for the country if they’re elected leader.”

“I don’t know whether your ability to come out on top in a competition like that really is much of an indication of how good a leader, a team builder you would be.”

Taylor suggested a greater focus on the candidates’ actual plans.

“We get a lot of that information, but it comes across in such a confusing context. Any real issues are so loaded the candidates don’t go near them, the really important stuff doesn’t get talked about,” Taylor said.