…you only need go as far as your nearest music-playing contraption.
Recently, one of my students told me he didn’t know who James Taylor was. Is. Well we can’t have that. So last night, I took a break from all the craziness, called up the 60+ JT tunes off my hard drive, and made him a “mixtape.” The hardest part was deciding which 20 or so to choose.
As I spent the better part of two hours listening and reliving countless memories, I was reminded of why I contend that he is one of the greatest storytellers of my generation — if not the greatest.
While his 1992 New Moon Shine project is my all-time favorite album of stories, there are a dozen songs that easily rank at the top of the “awesome” list. His lyrics know no convention; it’s impossible to pigeonhole him, which I think is fantastic.
From recalling a lost love…
Took a fall from a windy height;
I only knew how to hold on tight
And pray for love enough to last all night (Copperline, New Moon Shine)
To great personal loss…
Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone.
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you. (Fire and Rain, Sweet Baby James)
To taking quiet delight in a special love…
If I’m feeling down and blue, or troubled by some foolish game;
She always seems to make me change my mind (Something in the Way She Moves, James Taylor)
To clever wordplay…
Don’t be leavin’ me now;
Believe in me now (Only One, That’s Why I’m Here)
Having read much about him (most recently in this book), I believe he can tell great stories because he’s known profound joy, sorrow and internal struggle. He spent time in a psychiatric hospital on more than one occasion, did his share of living carelessly, and lost himself in drug addiction. Having come out alive on the other side, he has all the more reason to tell tales — and lucky for us, he’s an incredibly talented singer and guitar player as well.
So choose any one of his albums, or just go to Pandora or Spotify, and lose yourself for an hour or so.
Hmm, two nostalgic music posts in as many days. What does this mean, Yoda?