Hands up everyone who loves James Taylor. Relax, I hear those of you shouting “Me! Me! Me!” Yet, with a musician as venerable as James Taylor, there are inevitably a great many younger Newsmoi readers who have never heard of him. My goal is to give everyone sufficient information to enjoy the videos, so diehard fans bear with me if the background I give is “potted”, and other readers kindly accept that Taylor is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist greatly respected by his peers.
Taylor’s many awards include induction into the R & R Hall of Fame (2000), Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France, 2012) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (The highest US civilian award, 2015). He has six Grammys plus the 2006 MusiCares Person of the Year (sponsored by the Grammys). The list of artists who played at his MusicCares event is enough to convince any doubters of the worth of Taylor. As the list is long, I’ll get to it later. This 2021 video, features JT’s son Henry:
It’s often noted that it can be particularly special when siblings or parents and children sing together (assuming they can sing!). This is certainly the case here. And just look at the proud, loving smiles JT gives Henry as they sing in unison. US Citizen writes, “When people who are biologically related sing together, there is a magic undefined by words. This performance: Yes, yes and still again yes!” Huge-JT-fan The Cream says: “Wow, I didn’t know his son was following in his footsteps.”
Sea Chi poignantly observes, “‘And you can sing this song when I’m gone’… passing the torch has a whole new meaning at this stage of our lives”. The song, You Can Close Your Eyes, is one of Taylor’s most popular and critically acclaimed. It appeared on his third album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon (1971). It is widely believed that the song was composed for JT’s one-time girlfriend Joni Mitchell. Here’s a brief pandemic-era treat from The Voice 2020 (before I get to that list of artists)
Now for that list of the performers who covered James Taylor songs at the televised MusicCares event in 2006. The musicians included Bruce Springsteen, Carole King, Sting, Keith Urban. Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, Alison Krauss, Jackson Browne, Sheryl Crow, David Crosby, India.Arie, The Chicks, Jerry Douglas, and Paul Simon. That’s an impressive and diverse list, isn’t it?
For their virtual appearance on The Voice, above, James and Henry Taylor performed the American-songbook-standard Moon River. Referring to this time, Henry Taylor has said: “We were stuck in Montana for a lot of the pandemic where there wasn’t a lot to do besides music. Dad taught me his fingering, his approach to songwriting, his technique with vocal warmups.”
After venues opened up again in September 2021, Henry has been touring with his father as a backing vocalist. Asked what it feels like to have become a full member of his father’s band, Henry replied, “I have literally known this band all my life. There’s one photo where Arnold (McCuller) is holding me, which I am 3 months old in. There’s one with Kate (Markowitz) that same time. And Jimmy Johnson. I feel as if the band is family. They have always treated me in such a kind and warm way. It can’t be easy to have the ‘boss’s kid’ working next to you. And although being a part of this incredible ensemble of hugely talented musicians is a little overwhelming, I am excited to be doing what I love most. I do feel pressure. But I’m hoping the singers will put up with me and continue to teach me as they’ve done so graciously in the past.”
A few more snippets. Taylor’s first album to top the Billboard 200 was his 2015 release, Before This World. This was more than 45 years since he first charted. His 2020 album American Standard, which he was punting on the video from The Voice, above, entered the the Billboard 200 albums at #4. This made James Taylor the first artist to have US #1 albums in all of the past six decades. James Taylor has four children: Sally and Ben with Carly Simon and twin sons Rufus and Henry with his third wife, Caroline ‘Kim’ Smedvig.
If you would like to see more from James Taylor, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Facebook. You can also visit his official website for more information.