James Taylor Biography

Review The Artist (11)

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James Taylor was the pre-eminent singer/songwriter of the Seventies and has remained a solid musical craftsman and performer. Born in Boston in 1948, Taylor grew up in the university town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He summered with his family on Martha's Vineyard, where he met fellow guitarist/songwriter Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar and began performing. Beset by drug problems, he voluntarily institutionalized himself and began writing songs during his stay. Moving to New York , Taylor formed the Flying Machine with Kortchmar in 1966. After their breakup, he headed to London, where he lived for a year. He cut a demo tape that got him signed to the Beatles' Apple Records by A&R man Peter Asher, who became his manager and producer. The debut album James Taylor (1968) contained Taylor's classic "Carolina in My Mind."

In 1969, he signed to Warner Bros. and moved to California, where he recorded the classic Sweet Baby James with a band that included guitarist Kortchmar and Carole King on piano. Released in March 1970, the album offered its share of signature songs, including "Fire and Rain," "Sunny Skies," "Country Road" and "Sweet Baby James." Its phenomenal success helped usher in an age of "new troubadours"--including such singer/songwriters as Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and Crosby, Stills and Nash--who pointed popular music in a quieter, more introspective direction after the turbulent Sixties.

His third album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon (1971), found Taylor-mania in full swing. It was certified platinum the month of its release and reaches #2 on Billboard's album chart. Taylor's version of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" became his first--and, to date, only--#1 single. It won Grammys both for Taylor (Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male ) and King (Song of the Year). A 1971 cover story in Rolling Stone proclaimed James Taylor and his musical siblings--sister Kate and brothers Livingston, Alex and Hugh--"the first family of the new rock."

Taylor remained a prolific recording artist throughout the Seventies, releasing a string of solid albums: One Man Dog (1972), Walking Man (1974), Gorilla (1975) and In the Pocket (1976). Such breezy, soulful singles as "How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You)" and "Mockingbird," a duet with Carly Simon, made the Top Five. His reign as a pop icon culminated in the December 1976 release of Greatest Hits, which has sold more than 11 million copies. Taylor's combined catalog has sold an astonishing 30 million copies to date.

In 1977, Taylor moved to Columbia Records, where he debuted with JT, an album that found him in peak form as a folk-pop stylist whose songcraft cut deeply. The pace of his releases has slowed over the years, but his work has intensified in its depth and craft. His later albums, notably New Moon Shine (1991) and Hourglass (1997), rank with his best. In fact, Hourglass won Taylor a coveted Grammy for Best Pop Album in 1998. Taylor's hit-filled live shows are renowned for their exquisitely polished musicianship. James Taylor (LIVE), A double CD released in 1993, was a career-spanning triumph that documented his exacting artistry onstage.

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mudslide slim | Reviewer: Anonymous | 8/23/12

j.t. songs have gotten me thru many sleepless nights n sad times... sick,slipping n slidin.... playing in the mud.... james is 1 of a kind his lyrics n music speaks to your soul!

James is the best | Reviewer: David Whelan | 1/12/12

James is my favorite all time performer and I concur with everything said about him. First heard about him when I was about 15(1972)when a friend showed me a copy of Sweet Baby James.Have been in love with his music ever since.
I agree, his tunes, lyrics and guitar work put him in the genius class and his laid-back style almost make it look easy-which of course isn't to mere mortals like most of us, otherwise many would have duplicated what he has done.
I too play his CD'S while driving and can't say I have a favorite as this is always changing, there are so many timeless master pieces within his body of work.
All power to you James and all the wonderful musicians you have around you

Always rhythmically surprising... | Reviewer: John Young | 5/20/11

After all the superlatives and kudos have been said - and deservedly so - what remains is the endless rhythmic surprise that springs from James Taylor's work. Even when listened to over and over again, the unique rhythmic twists pop out afresh. James challenges himself by taking his musical adventures to a point of no return, yet always finds his way back with a rhythmic surprise. I'd venture to guess sometimes he even surprises himself.
(The author posts under the screen name 'sosauto' on YouTube)

James is the best. | Reviewer: Jack | 3/27/11

James Taylor is a wonder. His talent is unbelievable. I didn't really appreciate him back in the day (I guess I was too young). Almost everyday I discover another tune to fall in love with. I guess this is selfish, but thank God he didn't die during those years he was on drugs.

I think I know the man? | Reviewer: Murray Dales | 2/13/11

I am a part-time picker and singer and for about 6 months I learned and practiced "Something in the way she moves" hoping that some day I might find the the woman I could play and sing this wonderful song for. As luck and love would have it I did meet the love of my life and blew her away with my rendition of JT'Something in the way she moves. Each time I perform this song and as many others that I also enjoy playing,I seem to feel just a little closer to the man that created all this wonderful music. Could I possibly have spent some time in the brain of JT, by playing his songs and by becoming so familiar with the music I can't help but think I know James Taylor.

Steamroller Blues | Reviewer: Glena | 6/27/08

Gosh, I listen to James in the car everyday and I just have to say, Steamroller Blues, written by the young folk musician who was not even a blues player, shows how wonderful and talented he is. I LOVE that cut and melt everytime I hear it. It makes me smile and squirm a little bit. I'm 70 and feel young especially when listening to James Taylor.

Baby guitar player... | Reviewer: Danielle | 12/31/07

I am learning to play the acoustic guitar, and the song you sing "I feel fine every time..." was an inspiration for me to just go ahead and do it. I want that to be the first song I play. I am sure I wont do it justice, but I will certainly put my heart into it! Thank you!


i have a Quistion | Reviewer: ryan | 9/20/07

do you know these lyrics? ive been so many places i seen so many things i know loves is the answer keeps holding this world togther...

James Taylor the Folk musican | Reviewer: Claire Halemba | 4/14/07

Dear James Taylor,
I think you are a grat Folk singer.
I love you so much that I'm doing a report on you for school.
your fan,
Claire Halemba

Genius Envy (Take THAT, Freud!) | Reviewer: eileen | 3/3/06

Mr. Taylor has provided a distinctly American voice to the musical canon of late 20th/early 21st music. There is a warmth and exquisite homeiness in the timbre of his voice that is at once inviting and soothing. He knows how to growl, he can riff with the best of 'em, and his humor is often missed by people who only see sentimentality where there is a wink and a grin from ear to ear behind a lyric. His songs are clever, they are thoughtful, they are fun, they are diverse (contrary to popular opinion) and he never lets us off the hook with mere bromides. He's been dismissed as not being tough enough for this town (I presume in that case the town is rock and roll), but the man has the chops. He knows lyrics, can turn a phrase on its side and gain new energy from from the calculated displacement of a cliche. All the classic descriptions, soulful, blue-eyed soul, poseur steamroller, well, they just don't get the artist's urge to try some exciting new material just for shits and grins. Hell, the guy even has great taste in covers. Who can beat Sam Cooke! His back up band is brilliant, and he is the most generous of artists in being sure to mention the individual works of his team, their own albums, and giving them their props during his shows. I have never met the man (obviously) but while all artists have some ego (folks, you need to if you are to survive) he seems to show remarkable humility. And having struggled with my own tobacco jones, James, I was touched and impressed when you ended a concert by cautioning those in the audience who had been drinking beer to please drive safely or get a designated driver. I would love to give this man every poem I have ever written and see what he would do with them. He sure as hell doesn't need my help as a lyricist, and I know very little about composing music (my son is the violinist and guitar player, my daughter the pianist and cellist, my other daughter the trumpeter...I used to sing until thyroid surgery vut half my vocal chord...now I just don't have the power). But I know about musical families; I know about feeling lost in a "privileged" family, and I sometimes think Taylor would laugh his ass off at my favorite Steven Wright joke, which captures both the irony of angst in a well to do family AND the unsettled, always a little off balance and uncertain feeling that comes when that family is not always functioning at top form: Wright says, "When I was growing up we had two kitchens...and I never knew where my next meal was coming from." Christ, you gotta laugh until you cry. I used to say rich people feel angst...poor people just suffer...now I think the world is about suffering and the lines of demarcation are more subtle than we realize. If I could write just one poem as good as "Enough to Be On Your Way," an elegy to break any heart, and I could die happy. Thank you, Mr. James Taylor, for enriching our lives. You'll stand the test of time, and history will treat you well. I hope others do, too. Your music is a gift, and, as you say, "that's why I'm here."

You Are Wonderful James. | Reviewer: Rachel | 10/3/05

Hey James Taylor is the best artist known to man, he has touched me in more ways with his song Fire and Rain than anyone ever could do in ONE song lone. Phil Collins and all the other artists have written meaning full songs but no one can ever compare with James Taylors Fire and Rain. He is a great guy and would be nice to hang out with. James is just an all around wonderful guy and god forbid anything ever happens to him because if it does it will be a very big tragety for all of his fans but more so for me.

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