What's your opinion on James Taylor?
I LOVE JAMES TAYLOR!!! Here’s my tag for him. I mostly blog harder rock, so there’s not many posts, but you’ve reminded me that I need to do more. (Although that said, you’re right to assume that there’s not necessarily a relationship between what I enjoy most and what I blog most. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.)
There’s so so much great music in 1971 beyond classic rock, and James is a perfect example. He had a huge impact on me in the early 70s, and I’ve been a fan for coming up on 50 years by now.
It happens that there are some fantastic clips of James specifically in 1971 floating around. Here my three favorites:
1) You Can Close Your Eyes, from an episode of the BBC show In Concert. This is my favorite track on his 1971 album, Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon. One of my favorite tracks of 1971, or ever, by anyone, tbh. This one comes and goes (I’ve redone this embed a couple of times already), and if it’s not here when you see this post, I promise it’s worth the effort to track it down.
2) Love Has Brought Me Around, also from 1971’s Mud Slide Slim, a lesser-known gem in James’ catalog, well overshadowed by his biggest 1971 track from Mud Slide Slim, “You’ve Got A Friend.” That song was written by Carole King, who’d have her own hit with it later in 1971. I mention this because Carole is playing piano here (she and James frequently played together live and in the studio in 1971 – she’s even described Tapestry and Mud Slide Slim as two parts of the same album recorded at the same time, with the same band), and she has a very nice solo here.
While this particular embed has distorted audio, it’s worth the noise, and worth tracking down the whole album. I play this song a lot.
3) Sweet Baby James was a 1970 album of course, but was an even bigger hit in 1971: the #7 bestselling album of the year! One of the albums I’ve played most often in my life, too.
The link here is to his performance on the Johnny Cash Show in February 1971 (a special episode called “Cash On Campus” that I’ve written about before). It was James’s American TV debut, and he slayed. Even though it’s just James and a guitar, the audience explodes at the end of this. It’s really something special.
Note that Johnny had introduced it as the only lullaby he knew with the word “turnpike” in it, so when James gets to that line in the second verse, he turns and beams at John. Priceless!
So…flipping through my blog, you’d think that the biggest and most important artists of 1971 are people like Led Zeppelin. The Who, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones — and you’d be right, but James Taylor sold more than any of them in 1971.
And hey, even if he wasn’t selling more records than they did, he was, and remains, one of the artists who’s made the biggest impact on my life. These are a couple of highlights, but I think you’ll be greatly rewarded as you dig even deeper into his discography.