I’m not sure James Taylor would approve of this description, but the word that comes to mind when I think about him is “mellow.” Even when his music rocks a bit, it’s a mellow rock. And when he’s reminiscing about his life, he’s in full mettle mellow.
He knew, and everyone who heard him agreed, that he had a unique musical talent. In fact, he was the first non-British act ever signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records. But it took him a number of years to find the right combination of producer and material, and for the public to be ready to appreciate him. That all came together in 1970 when his album Sweet Baby James was released.
The song that took off, and took James with it, was “Fire and Rain.” It featured his mellow vocals (yeah, I said it again) and distinctive guitar style interpreting some very poignant lyrics. The song and the album both made it to number three on the Billboard charts.
As I mention some of James’s great songs, see if you don’t start humming them in your mind. “You’ve Got a Friend”… “Carolina in My Mind”… “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”… “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)”… “Shower the People”… “Handy Man”… “Up on the Roof.”
As for honors, he’s won five Grammys, and is in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. And he’s ranked number 84 in Rolling Stone’s list of “The Immortals: 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”