Happy Birthday to legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor, who turns 73 today (March 12th)!!! In 2020 Taylor released his latest album, titled American Standard. The covers collection features tunes culled from the “great American Songbook,” including, “My Blue Heaven,” “Ol’ Man River,” “Pennies From Heaven,” “The Nearness Of You,” and “God Bless The Child,” among others. With the new album hitting Number Four on the Billboard 200 albums chart, Taylor became the first artist to earn a Top 10 album in each of the last six decades.
James Taylor will forever be remembered for his string of classic hits, including “Fire And Rain,” “Sweet Baby James,” “You've Got A Friend,” “Up On The Roof,” “You Can Close Your Eyes,” “Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” “Handy Man,” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” “Mockingbird,” “Mexico,” “Shower The People” “Her Town Too,” “Your Smiling Face,” and “Carolina In My Mind,” among many more.
Taylor, along with former wife Carly Simon, was one of the driving forces behind the early-'70s singer-songwriter era and admits that's he's still comfortable writing about his life: “That's the kind of work I do. I mean, sometimes, I've felt, y'know, that I wish I wasn't so, uh, sort of personal or confessional. But that just seems to be the kind of stuff I write.”
Carole King's early-'70s singer-songwriter heyday will always be tied to her work with James Taylor due to their early joint tours and recording sessions, which resulted in Taylor's 1971 chart-topping cover of King's “You've Got A Friend.” King addressed the fact that people are always curious about two performers of the opposite sex collaborating in a tight knit fashion: “First of all, you can ask me about James any time, because I love him (laughs) so much. It's that real . . . y'know everybody says, 'Were you a couple? — No. Y'know, 'Do you ever think about it?' — No. The first connection was musical.”
James Taylor told us that despite the pressures of the music business, he's never felt any competition with his peers, or himself, when writing or recording new music: “It's impossible not to sort of think about your position when you've finished an album and you're releasing it, and trying to promote it and announce it and stuff. It's hard not to think of it in the marketplace. But for me, it's not a competitive sport, y'know, and you just have to do your best and then let go of the result — and just be thankful to be able to continue.”
Taylor recalled being among one of the first signings to Apple Records as a dream come true: “Well, I was signed by the Beatles in 1968 to their Apple Records label. I was a huge Beatles fan — they had a massive impact on me and what I thought I'd like to write.”
Although James Taylor is rated among the top composers of the singer-songwriter era, he credits his vocal and guitar styles for much of his success: “If you listen to the original of 'Handy Man,' or 'Up On The Roof,' or 'Everyday,' and then listen to my version of it, the arrangement gets redone. I have a vocal style that tends to lay the thing back a little bit in many cases. The other thing is that I have this sort of vocabulary on guitar — kind of preferred chord changes, and I'll play these songs over years going back to when I was a teenager.”