James Taylor gets out a tackle box, does his nails
August 21, 2011 4:36 PM   Subscribe

People really like to hate James Taylor, but he's doing some excellent guitar lessons on his website. Well, there's one guitar lesson and one lesson on fingernail care.
posted by jwhite1979 (140 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Dude, I'm about to buy myself my first decent acoustic guitar and really double down on learning how to play, and I can't even tell you how much time I've spent worrying about what the hell I'm going to do about my soft, terrible fingernails if I want to learn to play fingerstyle. This is seriously going to help me.
posted by penduluum at 4:41 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can only hope that James Taylor finds a way to pass along whatever he's learned from his multiple generations of playing guitar and writing songs for younger players to learn. He's created songs which are going to live forever, and it would be a huge shame if anything he's gained during his 40+ years of work die out when he passes.
posted by hippybear at 4:47 PM on August 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, can the mods please either delete or modify the first link in this FPP? It's a bitly shortened link to a google search. Here is the actual link which the bit.ly shortened URL points to.
posted by hippybear at 4:48 PM on August 21, 2011


I shouldn't shorten URLs? Gotcha.
posted by jwhite1979 at 4:49 PM on August 21, 2011


Ah. Just saw it in the FAQ. My bad.
posted by jwhite1979 at 4:51 PM on August 21, 2011


Why didn't you shorten all your links?
posted by hal_c_on at 4:52 PM on August 21, 2011


I'm just in the habit of shortening the Google links that I post on FB. I do it without thinking.
posted by jwhite1979 at 4:54 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


He has a beautiful guitar style, and every time I've tried to learn one of his songs I've given up due to the complexity of both his right hand and left hand technique. I hope I can learn more from the man himself.
posted by rocket88 at 4:56 PM on August 21, 2011


I think this is the part where I admit that I'm permanently convinced James Taylor is black, as I just clicked through to the website and was startled by his appearance. I'm curious who this person I'm convinced is James Taylor is.
posted by hoyland at 5:04 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, put me firmly in the "hate whiny James Taylor music" camp, but I might actually try this nail care stuff. I remember when I first learned guitar, I played classical guitar and I had to grow long nails. The soft nylon or gut strings were easy to pick, but I was always chipping my nails during my daily routine. I had to carry an emery board everywhere, for quick repairs.

But now I play electric, and I have the opposite problem. On my left hand, calluses on my fingertips are so thick, I often clip them with a fingernail trimmer. On my right hand, my middle finger always brushes against the strings, wears down, and eventually splits down to the quick. Oh is that painful. So this reinforcement thing might help. But what's this fiberglass tape stuff he mentions? I don't think he said where you can get this tape.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:06 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


A woman actually describes her experience with the JT fingernail technique. She says she got the fiberglass tape at a beauty supply store.
posted by jwhite1979 at 5:12 PM on August 21, 2011


I think this is the part where I admit that I'm permanently convinced James Taylor is black [...]

I used to think Randy Newman was black until I saw him on an album cover. Then I heard Harps and Angels and decided he really was black.
posted by jwhite1979 at 5:15 PM on August 21, 2011


There are a lot of nice camera angles during the guitar lesson (even from within the guitar), but very little explanation. And theres basically only one guitar lesson. :P
posted by ReWayne at 5:19 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fixed the link. URL shorteners, yes, not useful on Metafilter basically ever. Avoid. Links to google search results not really great links in general either, if we want to be thorough about this.

I think this is the part where I admit that I'm permanently convinced James Taylor is black

Huh. Taylor's also been to my (admittedly, since I just don't like his music and so haven't spent much time thinking about it, glib and superficial) judgement one of the whitest songwriters in the history of weenie-sounding white guy folk music. But in any case he is one solid fucking musician and his songs that I can't stand are unquestionably solid work, so, eh.

Guitar nails are a thing, definitely. I think I remember reading years and years ago that Leo Kottke maybe? basically varnished his nails with layers of nail lacquer to keep them up to the task of his nutso playing.

I've never really gotten into fingerstyle, when I do fingerpick it's with a combination of the pads of my fingers and whatever nails I've got at the time, but I mostly keep them pretty short.
posted by cortex at 5:20 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


people hate james taylor? really? i guess i've been blinded by my love for him for the last 35 years or so.
posted by msconduct at 5:23 PM on August 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


I haven't watched the video... does he talk about drinking gelatin to strengthen fingernails? I've heard that works, but it might be an old wives' tale.
posted by hippybear at 5:29 PM on August 21, 2011


Yeah, it's not just a passive hatred either. Lots of people actively loathe him and think of him as an antichrist of rock music. I linked to a Google search result for the famous Lester Bangs article explaining why he is so terrible, and that alone gets 20,000 hits despite the fact that the article doesn't even exist online.
posted by jwhite1979 at 5:32 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't love him or hate him (it's awfully hard for me to say I hate any artist), but I have to say that memories associated with his songs are good, but that's why any assessment of his musicality on my part would be meaningless. I have to say, though, that it's really hard to write a song, and he has written at least a few good ones. His guitar lessons are frank and informative.
I don't own a single song of his, though.

Here's a repost of the 2008 thread comments:

I was never a big James Taylor fan myself, but here are a few of the cool kids who disagree with Lester Bangs:

David Crosby, The Dixie Chicks, Jacob Dylan, Jerry Douglas, Lowell George, Richard Greene, David Grisman, Emmylou Harris, George Harrison, Levon Helm, Steve Jordan, Alison Krauss, Tony Levin, David Lindley, Branford Marsalis, Paul McCartney, John McLaughlin, Airto Moreira, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Randy Newman, Billy Payne, John Pizzarelli, Bonnie Raitt, David Sanborn, Sting, Steve Winwood, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Yo-Yo Ma. . .

posted by kozad at 5:35 PM on August 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


He's truly one of the greats. Awesome that he's putting these videos out there.
posted by BurntHombre at 5:38 PM on August 21, 2011


Fire And Rain, alone, will live forever. I've known that song pretty much my entire conscious life, and yet there are times, at least once a year, when I hear it on some random music system and suddenly the sentiment of the song overwhelms me and I'm reduced to an emotional puddle.

Perhaps it's my own past with people disappearing out of my life in permanent fashion without closure. Perhaps it's the power of the words and melody. Perhaps it's my own tendency toward mood enhancement with alcohol or herbal compounds. It doesn't matter.. It's an incredibly powerful song, and if nothing else of his survives, the cockroaches will be performing it as they mourn their passed friends and kindred.
posted by hippybear at 5:40 PM on August 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


Also, if you want to have some real period context for James Taylor and Carole King and others of his era, you should watch Troubadours: Carole King / James Taylor And The Rise Of The Singer-Songwriter. It's a 90 minute documentary which provides context and setting for so many people who have shaped a generation of music listeners and music makers. I can't recommend it highly enough.
posted by hippybear at 5:43 PM on August 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I haven't watched the video... does he talk about drinking gelatin to strengthen fingernails? I've heard that works, but it might be an old wives' tale.

No, he doesn't mention it. I drank gelatin when I played classical guitar, it didn't help at all. I don't think this is an old wives' tale, I think it's a gelatin marketing ploy.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:44 PM on August 21, 2011


There are a lot of nice camera angles during the guitar lesson (even from within the guitar), but very little explanation.

for experienced musicians, it's gong to be fairly clear what he's doing - but experienced musicians probably aren't going to get much from this

for inexperienced musicians, he just doesn't explain it at all - what the left hand is doing isn't that difficult - but he says nothing about the right hand, and that's the technique that needs to be taught
posted by pyramid termite at 5:48 PM on August 21, 2011


Gelatin sounds dumb but I am absolutely certain there is a diet hack for nails. I went through almost two years of seriously goofed up nails when I was floundering around in diet space for a healthy optimum. There were so many moving parts I do not know what is the one surplus or the one deficit in my diet which was doing it.

If I had to guess I would think it's dairy. I eat about three times as much dairy now as I did when my nails were fuxord.
posted by bukvich at 5:48 PM on August 21, 2011


I was never a big James Taylor fan myself, but here are a few of the cool kids who disagree with Lester Bangs:

[citation needed]

No, not the MeFi thread, the original sources of these alleged endorsements.

David Crosby..

Yeah, you pretty much vindicated my distaste for Taylor, right there. DFH.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:52 PM on August 21, 2011


I don't hate James Taylor. Billy Joel, on the other hand...
posted by eyeballkid at 5:55 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


for inexperienced musicians, he just doesn't explain it at all - what the left hand is doing isn't that difficult - but he says nothing about the right hand, and that's the technique that needs to be taught

It's not just that. He's completely self-taught, so not only is his picking idiosyncratic, his fingering is, too. Watch the video and see how he fingers a D chord. He really plays guitar with a piano sensibility.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:55 PM on August 21, 2011


I think Billy Joel could have been a Beatle.
posted by jwhite1979 at 5:57 PM on August 21, 2011


i might add that what he's calling "little wheel" is actually a simplified version of the riff he plays after the 2nd chorus of "shower the people"
posted by pyramid termite at 5:59 PM on August 21, 2011


Also I could never tell the difference between James Taylor and Jackson Browne.

Except google image search shows me Jackson still has his beautiful hair.
posted by bukvich at 6:00 PM on August 21, 2011


James Taylor didn't write Lawyers in Love or Lives in the Balance. That's how you can tell the difference.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:02 PM on August 21, 2011


And Jackson Browne didn't write Something In the Way She Moves.
posted by Red Loop at 6:06 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


and neither one of them wrote "sometimes when we touch"

no, i won't link to it - if you've never heard it, trust me, you're fine

just sayin' there are worse things in the world than james taylor and jackson browne
posted by pyramid termite at 6:09 PM on August 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hatred of a music artist always seems like such a puerile emotion to me. So the music isn't to your taste, or is something you don't understand, or is something you don't relate to. Surely the admiration and respect of others would be enough to help you say, "you know, this is something which I don't connect with, but that's how life is sometimes." But no! Instead, it's all HATE! You must DESTROY IT WITH FIRE! It CANNOT BE TOLERATED TO EXIST!

Dude, it's just music. Just some guy with a guitar or a piano. HATE? Really? That's a lot of energy to expend on something which you can basically just ignore or tolerate until it's no longer on the Billboard charts, which will be (at most) a few weeks.

If everything you don't understand/connect with/take into yourself as a personal expression even though it's done by someone else is something which you HATE... you're going to spend an awful lot of your time and energy during your limited span of existence hating things... Just let it go, become an adult. Admit that you don't have to find everything to be to your exact taste. It'll all pass, and something else will come along which you can pass judgement on in just a short while. Really.
posted by hippybear at 6:11 PM on August 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


In 1980 or so, I was the stage manager of my university's popular concert committee when we had James Taylor come play. He had most of Jackson Browne's band The Section (Russ Kunkel, Lee Sklar, Danny Kortchmar) and they put on a hell of a show. Anyway, at the rehearsal, I was talking to the guitar tech and he was working on a very cheap, very small acoustic guitar putting wood tape over the name on the headstock so you couldn't see it. I asked him why, and he said it was a $99 Japanese guitar that James just loved because the built-in pickup sounded so great. It was so cheap and chintzy they were embarassed to let the name show. It was the first Takamine I ever saw, and they certainly became well-known for their onboard sound. (I now own several.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:21 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


You don't end up with Leland Sklar in your band for 30 years if you're not any good.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:21 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


People like to hate James Taylor? This is news to me. What's the problem, he sang too many beautiful songs and brought too much joy into people's lives? Yeah, fuck that guy.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:23 PM on August 21, 2011 [17 favorites]


I think Billy Joel could have been a Beatle.

I think he's pretty much spent his entire career trying to be a Beatle. A walking, talking combination of Lennon and McCartney, leaning heavily into McCartney territory. But he's done it in his own Billy Joelishly sappy and embarrassing way, not having nearly the breadth and depth and artistic vision of his two idols from Liverpool.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:25 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


He's a category killer. Sensitive guy folk music - you can't NOT include him as one of the greats. Now, if you don't like that genre, then I guess you wouldn't like him. I need to be in the mood, myself, and it doesn't happen that often. When it does, though, I have no beef whatsoever with JT as a great song writer and performer. I thought his the times, they are a changin' with Carly Simon and CSN (No Nukes concert, NY) was way better than Dylan's.

Plus, singing a JT song always kills in Japan for karaoke. Bob Dylan, only sometimes. Billy Joel -- some American always tries it, but everyone rolls their eyes and endures it. Not that that is THE measure of greatness, but it's one way to keep score. After X decades, is everyone fucking sick of your song?
posted by ctmf at 6:27 PM on August 21, 2011


I think Billy Joel could have been a Beatle.

I've always thought of him as the shittiest Beatle.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:28 PM on August 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can never hate James Taylor because of "Fire and Rain" and the scene where Martha Plimpton comes over for dinner and then it plays again at the end and oh my god I'm tearing up thinking about it...
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:29 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


But he's done it in his own Billy Joelishly sappy and embarrassing way, not having nearly the breadth and depth and artistic vision of his two idols from Liverpool.

Well yeah, exactly. But the Beatles had the advantage of working with each other. They brought out the artistic vision of one another. I think B.J. could have been a part of that group, although on his own he's obviously nowhere near their caliber.
posted by jwhite1979 at 6:30 PM on August 21, 2011


That was in regards to Running on,Empty but apparently I was too weepy to realize.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:31 PM on August 21, 2011


People like to hate James Taylor?

People point to him as one of the prime initiators of the confessional singer/songwriter movement. The relentless navel-gazers, the me-me-me-ers that can indeed can get so tiresome. Now, lyrically speaking, for me, Joni Mitchell pretty much wears the crown in that category, but I guess James was guilty as well. I can't really say, cause I'm not all that familiar with the lion's share of his work.

He certainly has a fine voice, and he's certainly written some fine songs, no doubt about it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:31 PM on August 21, 2011


When I heard "Carolina in My Mind" I knew I could never hate James Taylor.

David Crosby..

Yeah, you pretty much vindicated my distaste for Taylor, right there. DFH.


You should give If Only I Could Remember My Name a listen. Endorsed by the Vatican.
posted by smithsmith at 6:48 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


This served to remind me that I've seen James Taylor in concert more than any other artist. Very much a "who was that person who did that" moment. Some part of my brain that was developed during adolescence still believes that he and Carly Simon will get together again at some point.
posted by Morrigan at 6:59 PM on August 21, 2011


You should give If Only I Could Remember My Name a listen.

a note about "cowboy movie" - it's not just crosby with 4 of the grateful dead - a recent guitar player had a photograph which confirms what i always suspected - neil young was playing 2nd lead on that, dueling with jerry garcia

well, for some of us, that's just about as good as it gets
posted by pyramid termite at 7:04 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


"People point to him as one of the prime initiators of the confessional singer/songwriter movement. The relentless navel-gazers, the me-me-me-ers that can indeed can get so tiresome. Now, lyrically speaking, for me, Joni Mitchell pretty much wears the crown in that category, but I guess James was guilty as well. ..."
posted by flapjax at midnite

I used to own a business that had a machine shop in a first floor space of one of the big old brick mill buildings in Lowell, MA. When the aborted Broadway musical Working (to which Taylor contributed some music) opened, I went to see it, and, perhaps because I was familiar with the Lowell Mills, and the story of the mill girls, I came away humming his tune Millworker, which is more than I can say for any tune from any Andrew Lloyd Webber show I've ever seen.

The man can tell other people's stories, too, when he wants...
posted by paulsc at 7:13 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The guitar part on Something in the Way She Moves is stunning. Just wanted to say that.
posted by Put the kettle on at 7:14 PM on August 21, 2011


One big difference between Crosby and Taylor is that Crosby was steeped in and emerged from the San Francisco scene, while Taylor came out of the LA Troubadour scene. They were similar in time and neighbors in space, but their approach and effect and influence were entirely different.

There was a lot of cross admiration, but not much mixing. The Troubadour would feature Elton John and Jackson Browne. The San Francisco artists mostly ended up in Bill Graham's Fillmore and similar clubs -- Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, etc.

The proximity of the venues and the influence of those who found their start and big breaks there cannot be disputed, but the differences between their approaches and the basic philosophical differences between the approaches of the general schools of the different groups which sprang out of those scenes also is stark and hard to argue with.

It's one of those really fascinating things about music in the '60s in California. The SF scene and the LA scene admired each other, but didn't really mix a lot.

It's pretty fabulous, actually. There's such a diversity which came out of that area, mostly split between the two scenes, and it all kind of blends into a confused melange by the mid 1970s which also has its own specific appeal and turns into its own specific influence. But back when it was all starting out, it was pretty separate and had very different roots and very different fruit.
posted by hippybear at 7:18 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


flapjax, I hope you're not hating on Joni Mitchell. Unless you're talking about her dark ages of the eighties, that would be just plain foolishness, and I fear for you. I've got to say I think she's one of the best lyricists ever. JT has had some lovely songs and some sweet lyrics, as well as a few treacly duds. But Joni? Most of the time she is utterly the shit. Speaking of David Crosby, she was described by him as "about as humble as Mussolini", but she could almost get away with an inflated ego with a talent like hers.
posted by Red Loop at 7:22 PM on August 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


the aborted Broadway musical Working

While Working didn't have a very lengthy Broadway run, it's odd to describe a musical which was nominated for 7 Tony awards, 6 Drama Desk awards, and had a cast which included Patty LuPone, Joe Mantegna, and Lynne Thigpen (amongst others) as "aborted".
posted by hippybear at 7:22 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


a recent guitar player had a photograph which confirms what i always suspected

I'd like to see that! Is that Neil in the left channel? You should update the wiki entry.

Taylor came out of the LA Troubadour

When? AFAIA Taylor came out of North Carolina via New York City at least in his early years. I don't think that anyone was really comparing the two, only claiming that Crosby endorsed Taylor's work.
posted by smithsmith at 7:22 PM on August 21, 2011


I came away humming his tune Millworker , which is more than I can say for any tune from any Andrew Lloyd Webber show I've ever seen.

i would never in a million years suggest that Andrew Lloyd Webber is in any way, shape or form a better songwriter than James Taylor. I think Andrew Lloyd Webber is, well, just godawful.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:23 PM on August 21, 2011


I've seen him live twice, and he always brings the goods.
posted by 4ster at 7:26 PM on August 21, 2011


I kind of like Andrew Lloyd Webber too. Well, JC Superstar.
posted by jwhite1979 at 7:26 PM on August 21, 2011


I kind of like Andrew Lloyd Webber too.

Well, as they say, there's no accounting for taste. ;-)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:28 PM on August 21, 2011


When? AFAIA Taylor came out of North Carolina via New York City at least in his early years.

It can be argued that it was his stand at the LA Troubadour in 1969 which helped push him into prominence beyond his beginnings... but yes, he had quite a bit of success before he was connected with that venue and the crowd which surrounded it. So I could be mistaken.
posted by hippybear at 7:28 PM on August 21, 2011


I hope you're not hating on Joni Mitchell.

She also provided Jaco Pastorius with the platform for his most vital and enduring work. I guess it outs me as a child of the 70s, but to me, Joni's music is just pure sex.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:31 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, as they say, there's no accounting for taste. ;-)

I'm okay with that. I mean I really like things like White Light/White Heat and Raw Power, but I like Shake You Down and Till I Loved You too. I know people think I have indiscriminate taste, but there are just so many reasons to love so many different kinds of music. I have a really hard time actively disliking anything. Except 2000s pop country. That's just hicksploitation.
posted by jwhite1979 at 7:34 PM on August 21, 2011


flapjax, I hope you're not hating on Joni Mitchell.

I took care to include "lyrically speaking" when invoking her name in the context of this discussion. I happen to think that Joni is one of the most talented pop musicians to have emerged from the 60s/70s. A very unique compositional voice. I have immense respect for her music. But I do, personally, find much of her lyric work falls too far into navel-gazing category. For me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:37 PM on August 21, 2011


Is that Neil in the left channel?

i believe so - i think he's playing a gretsch - jerry's playing a strat

the established story is that jerry overdubbed the second lead, but it doesn't sound like him much to me - and as much as i've studied and taken from both their lead styles, i'd think i'd ought to know

there's a 2nd rhythm guitar in there, too - i think crosby overdubbed it

---

But Joni? Most of the time she is utterly the shit .

oh, yeah - that was the one thing that i kind of missed in hissing, which is a great album - i couldn't really hear joni's guitar too clearly and these demos are real nice for that

i don't think flapjax is a fan - but whatever one wants to say about her as a songwriter and a singer (i like her), she's a goddess of rhythm guitar
posted by pyramid termite at 7:38 PM on August 21, 2011


But I do, personally, find much of her lyric work falls too far into navel-gazing category. For me.

/me builds a gigantic wall around Indigo Girls so flapjax can never ever hear them nor find them personally irritating or whatever. Because that should never happen to such an outstanding duo of songwriters.
posted by hippybear at 7:48 PM on August 21, 2011


flapjax at midnite: "But I do, personally, find much of her lyric work falls too far into navel-gazing category. For me."

Of course you're entitled to your opinion, and as you say there's no accounting for taste. Here are the lyrics from the song I linked; I think they're pretty good myself, and wouldn't consider them very navel-gazey:

Heatwaves on the runway
As the wheels set down
He takes his baggage off the carousel
He takes a taxi into town
Yellow schools of taxi fishes
Jonah in a ticking whale
Caught up at the lights in the fishnet windows
Of Bloomingdale's
Watching those high fashion girls
Skinny black models with Raveen curls
And beauty parlor blondes with credit card eyes
Looking for the chic and the fancy
To buy

He opens up his suitcase
In the continental suite
And people twenty stories down
Colored currents in the street
A copter lands on the Pan Am roof
Like a dragonfly on a tomb
And business men in button downs
Press into conference rooms
Battalions of paper-minded males
Talking commodities and sales
While at home their paper wives
And paper kids
Paper the walls to keep their gut reactions hid

Yellow checkers for the kitchen
Climbing ivy for the bath
She is lost in House and Gardens
He's caught up in Chief of Staff
He drifts off into the memory
Of the way she looked in school
With her body oiled and shining
At the public swimming pool

Shining hair and shining skin
Shining as she reeled him in
To tell him like she did today
Just what he could do with Harry's House
And Harry's take home pay
posted by Red Loop at 8:03 PM on August 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


How the hell have I made it to thirty years of age without knowing that a large number of James Taylor's songs were about heroin? I mean, I suppose it's not surprising since I only ever really think about Taylor when I watch that Simpsons' episode where Homer goes into space. Still, it's kinda ridiculously obvious when you know, e.g. Brighten Your Night with My Day, Rainy Day Man and Fire and Rain (Snopes link). I shouldn't be too surprised, Something in the Way She Moves is lyrically close to There She Goes.
posted by Kattullus at 8:04 PM on August 21, 2011


Something in the Way She Moves yt is lyrically close to There She Goes

I'm sure you also noticed that George Harrison pilfered the title of SITWSM for his own hit "Something". ;) In fact, IIRC Harrison contributed some guitar on Taylor's eponymous album for Apple.
posted by smithsmith at 8:23 PM on August 21, 2011


I'm sure you also noticed that George Harrison pilfered the title of SITWSM for his own hit "Something".
I saw Taylor in concert this summer and he shared this about Something in the Way She Moves (not for the first time, I'm sure):

"I played this one for the Beatles, and George Harrison like it so much he wrote it himself."
posted by BurntHombre at 8:28 PM on August 21, 2011


pyramid termite, that was written by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, who have written some pretty great tunes.

I had the extreme good fortune to play a few tunes with JT at a benefit concert a few years back. It was a benefit for Paul Newman's summer camps for physically challenged kids. The concert ended with the house band, JT, and a bunch of the kids on stage at Avery Fisher Hall singing "Shower the People". Hate on JT all you want, but he didn't write that song, he snatched it from wherever the Great Spirit keeps those special kinds of things. And I'm happy to report that he was phenomenally friendly and patient all day throughout the rehearsals. I watched him sit down with those kids and his acoustic guitar and patiently teach them the parts that he wanted them to sing. They rehearsed it over and over in the green room, and he was as kind and supportive as you could imagine.

I also got to eavesdrop as President Clinton chatted with Mrs. JT while waiting for JT to come out of the bathroom. Yeah, that was a pretty awesome night. /namedropping
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:09 PM on August 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


pyramid termite, that was written by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann

no, it was written by dan hill (lyrics) and barry mann (music) - wiki

i could live with the music - the lyrics - icky, icky, icky

i think cynthia could have done better than that
posted by pyramid termite at 9:27 PM on August 21, 2011


right you are, I stand corrected. I agree about Cynthia. She's got game.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:54 PM on August 21, 2011


I neither love nor hate James Taylor, but in what sense was that a lesson? As someone who doesn't know much about playing guitar, it struck me as the equivalent of doing closeups up someone's fingers as they write computer programs in order to teach programming.
posted by treepour at 10:49 PM on August 21, 2011


Here are the lyrics from the song I linked; I think they're pretty good myself, and wouldn't consider them very navel-gazey:

Yeesh. I said, and I quote, "I do, personally, find much of her lyric work falls too far into navel-gazing category. For me."

I'm well aware that not every single song the woman wrote was navel-gazey.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:59 PM on August 21, 2011


i don't think flapjax is a fan

OK, now I'm really convinced that this thread is being invaded by people who can't or don't, um... read. I wrote this upthread...

I happen to think that Joni is one of the most talented pop musicians to have emerged from the 60s/70s. A very unique compositional voice. I have immense respect for her music.

... and I'm not a fan?

OK, I give up. Y'all carry on* !

* loooove is coming .... luuuuh-uh-uve is coming to us ah-all...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:06 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dude, it's just music. Just some guy with a guitar or a piano. HATE? Really? That's a lot of energy to expend on something which you can basically just ignore or tolerate until it's no longer on the Billboard charts, which will be (at most) a few weeks.

There's hating/"hating" somebody on principle, and then there's the actual experience of hating a particular sound that is being beamed into your head, which is helphelphelpgetitout. When I'm stuck in a room or a car with one of these songs -- feeling unable to get away from it is key, and there are any number of reasons this can happen that have nothing to do with whether the song is still on the charts -- listening to that piece of music can feel like wearing a shirt composed almost entirely of itchy tags. And what if the awful songs never stop coming? Meditation would probably help, but I think this might also be a wiring issue.

I mean, I seem to hate fewer songs as I've gotten older, and I've learned that there's rarely a good reason to tell people that you hate any of their favorite things, but some songs, some artists, still seem to activate an area of the brain that is very close to the one that hates nails on chalkboards, and I can't tune that stuff out. I might get to a point where I'm not actively thinking about the music anymore, but I've found that all of my thoughts and feelings will seem unaccountably desperate and unhappy for reasons I won't be able to put my finger on until the song comes back into focus. Sound is just too strong. It beats light and texture for sure, IMHO, and comes in second only to terrible smells for sheer mood-dictating power. I know I get judgmental about it, but when I'm stuck in somebody else's car with something I genuinely hate, judging is not my primary activity. My primary activity is suffering. I thought I meant that as sort of a half-joke, but it's true. If you make me listen to a Nickelback album, I'll feel bad. Unhappy, desperate, angry, drained. If you stuck me in a room with only one red light bulb for a light source for a couple of hours, I might feel about as bad as I would feel during the Nickelback album. At least I'd be able to shut my eyes, though.

I like James Taylor sometimes, in moderate doses. I like "Fire and Rain" a lot. His cover of "Handy Man" kind of makes me want to die, though. At least, it used to. This is not a statement I make lightly, as a lithium-taker. When I was a child strapped into the back of a Honda, being subjected to the whole of the album, something in his version of that song used to make me flop around like a fish out of water on the inside. Instant desperation. I have to claw something out of something. Stop it or let me out of the car. I haven't heard it in years, but if you mention James Taylor's version of "Handy Man" in front of me today I will have a hard time not barking, "I HATE that song!" If you and I smoke pot together and you put that song on, I am literally going to have to leave the room in order to make sure that I do not have to go to hell inside my mind for three minutes. I'll pretend I'm just getting up look for the chips, though, because I am a gentleman. Or a lady or whatever. P.S. I cannot actually smoke pot anymore, on account of the lithium, but I would like to apply for an opportunity to eat your potato chips.
posted by Adventurer at 1:15 AM on August 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Somehow moved by this marvelous thread and googling around I landed upon the most amazing (to me) item which I feel compelled to link. It is a mash of the Eagles "one of these nights" & Puff Daddy "missing you" (which is built up off Police "every step you take".)

You have probably all seen this already but I never saw it before tonight and if you have not seen it you might like to click on it.
posted by bukvich at 1:20 AM on August 22, 2011


OK, fine, as uber-white-whiney as JT was, he was also the quintessential smart, literate, East Coast, may-I-say smokin' soulful junkie with a guitar, and rumored to be sexing Joni, Carole, and Carly. I mean, c'mon! A bit more on those ladies.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:25 AM on August 22, 2011


Metafilter: My primary activity is suffering.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:43 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you and I smoke pot together and you put that song on, I am literally going to have to leave the room in order to make sure that I do not have to go to hell inside my mind for three minutes.

I promise I will never do this to you. What's your favourite Michael Bolton song?
posted by Meatbomb at 1:55 AM on August 22, 2011


If you and I smoke pot together and you put that song on, I am literally going to have to leave the room in order to make sure that I do not have to go to hell inside my mind for three minutes.

"Hell" inside your mind? Not just "Carolina"?

Admittedly, those might be interchangeable...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:05 AM on August 22, 2011


msconduct people hate james taylor? really? i guess i've been blinded by my love for him for the last 35 years or so.

Repeated for truth. Heard him and Carole King in Auckland last year, second row, middle seats. Best concert ever. I could shamelessly self-link, but won't... instead, check out YouTube for "You Can Close Your Eyes".

Anyway, I am blind with love in this whole matter...
posted by vac2003 at 2:59 AM on August 22, 2011


Some of my favorite songs are James Taylor songs. Lots of my other favorite songs are by people who sound absolutely nothing like James Taylor. I love lots and lots of songs. Some of my favorite songs are James Taylor songs.

The guitar lessons don't look very useful as general guitar lessons -- they're not "How to play your first chord" or anything -- but, judging by the first and only playing lesson up so far, they look like they'll be perfect for people who already know how to play at least basic acoustic guitar (plenty o' people) and like to play a few James Taylor songs (plenty o' those same people, especially those in the 40 to 60 age range) and would like to be able to make them sound like James Taylor plays them, not like you just played along with your E-Z-Chord Presents James Taylor book.
posted by pracowity at 3:39 AM on August 22, 2011


I read this thread thinking we were discussing Cat Stevens. My brain replaced one with the other. Weird.
posted by futz at 6:00 AM on August 22, 2011


> Fire And Rain, alone, will live forever.

The first half (the funny half) of Sweet Baby James will live forever. Also I'm very fond of Mexico both as a song and because of the lyrics, in which Taylor yammers on about Mexico for verse after verse and then blandly announces that he's never actually been there and doesn't know what he's talking about. Nice one, jim-bob.
posted by jfuller at 7:05 AM on August 22, 2011


The only songs I can remember well enough to sing to my son when I'm rocking him to sleep are all from the Sweet Baby James album. My parents played that so much when I was young that it's a part of me I guess, like the Dylan and Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot and Beatles albums they played too. We wore out the needle on those records. I still have a few of them hidden away, and will gladly steal the remainder from my dad's office given the chance to do so.

I guess it's cool to hate on some of these. Whatever. They will all forever remain awesome in my mind. I don't care that it's not his "best" album, I'll always like Nashville Skyline best because Dylan looks happy on the cover; I'll fight with my brothers over who gets to inherit Sweet Baby James, because it was one of my dad's favorites and I swear I knew the words by heart by the time I was 6; I'll never really forgive my little brother for dropping and chipping Mom's copy of Sergeant Pepper, but I'll remain thankful that it will still play if you gently place the needle just so right on the edge of the chipped spot; if I can't steal Dad's copy of Alice's Restaurant I'll forever envy the sibling who does nab it. All these memories and more will stay with me until I die. I will play them for my own son, and hope that he has fond memories of all of them too.

So go on hating, haters. If it makes you happy, knock yourselves out. But there is just so much AWFUL shit music out there deserving of your hate... why do you feel the need to spend time spewing bile on music that is actually worth listening to? I'm going to line up a playlist of folk-inspired singer-songwriter stuff and unashamedly play it loud enough to annoy my office mates all day now.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:19 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess it's cool to hate on some of these.

I think that's part of what goes on, but I think it's worthwhile to give the "haters" the benefit of the doubt. People are different, and I don't have a hard time believing that a person with different brain chemistry than I have can experience JT as negatively as I experience him positively. Getting past the need to turn aesthetics into a moral or objective matter helps take the sting out of the harsh criticism.

This is pure speculation, but I wonder if there's a tendency in some people to feel the pressure of rules more than for others--on a deep psychological level I mean, way below the surface. I wonder if those people feel music more viscerally when it provides a release from an excessively ordered relationship to the world. Likewise, maybe there are people who don't feel any inner connection to real-world rules and structures. Maybe those people use music as a way to create a coherent and safe world to live in. If these categories exist, they're probably the extremes on a continuum, and most people probably fall in the middle of the bell curve. That's why most mainstream music is neither compulsively tidy like James Taylor and Paul Simon, nor sloppy like The Velvet Underground and the Stooges. It kind of toes the line and becomes, well, really bland to my ears. I like music at both extremes.

I also know that I use music, poetry, math, drama, philosophy, etc. as a way of creating an understandable world that I can live in. Then when my world is too orderly I use the same things to tear down the walls.
posted by jwhite1979 at 8:08 AM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am convinced that James Taylor is just John Denver minus the goofy wig and phony glasses.

Don't even get me started on Alice Cooper and the guy from Looking Glass.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:44 AM on August 22, 2011


The only songs I can remember well enough to sing to my son when I'm rocking him to sleep are all from the Sweet Baby James album.

DFH. My dad was a fanatic for Barbershop Quartets. That's what you're doing to your son.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:11 AM on August 22, 2011


Here's a repost of the 2008 thread comments:
I was never a big James Taylor fan myself, but here are a few of the cool kids who disagree with Lester Bangs:

David Crosby, The Dixie Chicks, Jacob Dylan, Jerry Douglas, Lowell George, Richard Greene, David Grisman, Emmylou Harris, George Harrison, Levon Helm, Steve Jordan, Alison Krauss, Tony Levin, David Lindley, Branford Marsalis, Paul McCartney, John McLaughlin, Airto Moreira, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Randy Newman, Billy Payne, John Pizzarelli, Bonnie Raitt, David Sanborn, Sting, Steve Winwood, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Yo-Yo Ma. . .
Hey! That was me!


[citation needed] No, not the MeFi thread, the original sources of these alleged endorsements.

These 'alleged endorsements' are in fact a partial list of musicians who've either played on Taylor's albums, collaborated with Taylor, performed on stage with Taylor, or asked Taylor to contributed to their own albums.

I'm still not a fan of James Taylor's songs, but I recognize a talented musician and performer when I hear one, as do the musicians listed above. Lester Bangs, on the other hand, can jolly well stuff his snotty misinformed opinions about music up his own dead ass.
 
posted by Herodios at 1:02 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll hate on Joni Mitchell all day.
posted by pianomover at 2:20 PM on August 22, 2011


God I remember the weird reaction when I posted that original James Taylor thread. And the thing was, I'm not a huge fan either. I love "Fire and Rain" but that's about it. I'd just done a crossword earlier in the day which mentioned that he was turning 60 that day and I had a bug up my ass to make an FPP for some reason.

My favorite moment was in a MeTa thread a few days later when people were discussing threadshitting and someone used the term [NOT-JAMESTAYLORIST]
posted by Navelgazer at 3:12 PM on August 22, 2011


So go on hating, haters. If it makes you happy, knock yourselves out. But there is just so much AWFUL shit music out there deserving of your hate... why do you feel the need to spend time spewing bile on music that is actually worth listening to?

Oh pish. There's plenty of shit music I do like, and plenty of well-crafted, undeniably talent-driven music I don't. I am under no obligation to exhaustively run through a dismissal of all the shitty music I don't like and to turn on the shitty music I do like before I have a negative opinion about whatever you happen to like, shit or not. Railing at "haters" is a hater's game in high horse clothing.

James Taylor is an unquestionably talented musician; his aesthetic is his own, and has given him tons of success, and good on him. I find it mostly insipid and cringeworthy and dull and turn it off when it comes on, but I'm not under the impression that anyone owes me anything because of that, and I certainly don't owe someone who likes his music anything beyond the reasonable acknowledgement that the music he makes that I can't fucking stand to listen to is nonetheless well-formed stuff generally speaking.

In the mean time, I will listen to Wesley Willis all day long, and Wesley Willis is kind of terrible, may he rest in joybus. I neither care whether you like Wesley Willis nor expect you to show me proof of disliking other stuff before you're allowed to express whatever dislike you might feel. Like what you like and dislike what you like, I'll do the same, and if we want to talk about it we can have a discussion about actual music instead of defending our respective favorites' honor by drawing lines in the sand about who can criticize what and when.
posted by cortex at 3:17 PM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think a Wesley Willis/James Taylor duet album was in the works just prior to Willis's death. So sad that we'll never hear what they might've brought out in each other.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:49 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Wesley Willis/James Taylor songs going on in my head right now are actually pretty awful. I had thought my imagination would have done a better job.
posted by davejay at 6:35 PM on August 22, 2011


I like to imagine the Willis/Taylor album as Wesley Willis on guitar and James Taylor sort of half-yelling/half-singing "James Taylor! James Taylor!" the whole time.
posted by The World Famous at 6:38 PM on August 22, 2011


I have seen fire!
It is a hot thing!
It will burn your hands something fierce!
Fire and rain don't get along!

JAAAY-AAAMES TAYLOR
JAAAY-AAAMES TAYLOR
JAAAY-AAAMES TAYLOR
JAAAY-AAAMES TAYLOR
posted by cortex at 6:43 PM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


James: "Just yesterday morning..."
Wesley: "... I whupped Batman's ASS!"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:44 PM on August 22, 2011


James: "Batman, the plans he made..."
Wesley: "... put an END to you!"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:48 PM on August 22, 2011


I'm still not a fan of James Taylor's songs, but I recognize a talented musician and performer when I hear one, as do the musicians listed above. Lester Bangs, on the other hand, can jolly well stuff his snotty misinformed opinions about music up his own dead ass.

It is arguable (and possibly provable) that Lester Bangs had more impact on the world of music than JT ever did. Bangs coined the term Punk and defined the genre, giving guys like me that hated the cloying sound of whining hippies something to rally around. There were some interesting comments from others about this:

This is pure speculation, but I wonder if there's a tendency in some people to feel the pressure of rules more than for others--on a deep psychological level I mean, way below the surface. I wonder if those people feel music more viscerally when it provides a release from an excessively ordered relationship to the world.

Oh yeah. For me, listening to JT is like being trapped in a room full of giggling teenage girls drawing pictures of unicorns with crayons and glitter. Plus fingernails scraping on blackboards. The Top 40 music of the 70s drove me nuts. I could not understand why people around me liked the music they did. I mentioned my dad loved Barbershop quartets and Lawrence Welk. My mom loved Elvis and the Beatles. My older sister loved the Grateful Dead and Flatt & Scruggs. My younger sisters liked the Byrds and CSN&Y. I hated all of it. It seemed to me that this was the only music they could get ahold of, so it was what they had to like. The Top 40 crap was stuff like the Bee Gees, Abba, and James Taylor.

I listened mostly to classical music, I practiced Bach on my classical guitar, and Bartok on the piano, hoping this would lead somewhere different than the musical horrors around me. But one day I turned on the Today Show and they had this musical segment condemning this horrible noise from the UK by the Sex Pistols. I saw a mere 10 seconds of film with Jane Pauley yammering over it. I shot up out of my chair and thought "whatthehellwasthat?Iwantmore!" I discovered that music didn't have to be hippie claptrap and the musicians didn't have to be virtuosos, in order to speak to their audience.

But I will give credit where credit is due: James Taylor has the strongest fingernails in the music world.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:52 PM on August 22, 2011


James Taylor has the strongest fingernails in the music world.

The better to scrape on blackboards, my dear.
posted by The World Famous at 6:57 PM on August 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hippie claptrap! Hippie claptrap! Hippie claptrap!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:06 PM on August 22, 2011


I can't stand having long fingernails. They drive me crazy. Has anyone tried these fingerpicks? They look like a pretty good compromise--like you could still "feel" the strings--and the metal is on the front of your fingertips.
posted by rain at 7:28 PM on August 22, 2011


It is arguable (and possibly provable) that Lester Bangs had more impact on the world of music than JT ever did. Bangs coined the term Punk and defined the genre, giving guys like me that hated the cloying sound of whining hippies something to rally around. There were some interesting comments from others about this:

I love Bangs, but I also love 'whiny hippies'. And Bangs championed Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. So, yeah.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:33 PM on August 22, 2011


rain, I've used fingerpicks like that, they're fairly standard, unlike the AlaskaPic, they just have a bigger hole for the pad of your finger to touch the string. The pressure of the metal on my my fingernail and cuticles was painful, and you had to jam them on tight enough to hold, which felt like putting my fingertips in a vise. I just gave up on fingerpicking entirely, but I suppose someone (not me) could get used to this, if it was crucial to playing their instrument that way (like a banjo or whatever).

And in other news..

I love Bangs, but I also love 'whiny hippies'. And Bangs championed Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. So, yeah.

And he championed Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" too. I remember reading that review, it was hilarious. But I don't recall that he actually advocated listening to it, he enjoyed it more as an attack on Reed's record label. And then he championed the Ramones. So, yeah.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:46 PM on August 22, 2011



I could not understand why people around me liked the music they did.

This part I believe.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:48 PM on August 22, 2011


rain, I've used fingerpicks like that, they're fairly standard, unlike the AlaskaPic, they just have a bigger hole for the pad of your finger to touch the string.

charlie, the only fingerpicks I've ever seen act as an extension of (and fit over) the fingernails. I've never seen one made to fit over the finger pad.

Of course it's entirely possible I just don't get out enough.
posted by rain at 8:06 PM on August 22, 2011


People hate on James Taylor? I had no idea. Then again, I am from Massachusetts, and he's got favorite son status in these parts.
posted by emd3737 at 8:16 PM on August 22, 2011


charlie, the only fingerpicks I've ever seen act as an extension of (and fit over) the fingernails. I've never seen one made to fit over the finger pad.

Maybe you saw people wearing them upside down. Check out this pic. The lower pic shows a standard fingerpick on the left finger, and the ProPik you linked to on the right. The metal band goes around and rests on the base of the fingernail, ouch. I see they ProPiks have a split band model that might redistribute the pressure away from the cuticle where it would hurt most. But the general problem of pressure on the fingernail was too much for me to bear. YMMV.

You might be thinking of the Alaska Pik, I think someone mentioned them upthread, that was the first I ever heard of them.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:21 PM on August 22, 2011


charlie don't surf:

This is what you could have been listening to. You would not be listening to it either any more but at least you would not cringe when what you used to listen to got brought to your attention.
posted by bukvich at 8:38 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


fingerpicks always made me feel like some kind of weird crab trying to play a guitar

i use my fingers - not my nails, my fingers - i learned that way playing a yamaha classical
posted by pyramid termite at 8:45 PM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Top 40 music of the 70s drove me nuts.

oh, please - hard rock and r&b were top 40 staples back then - if you didn't care for the softer "hippie" stuff, there was quite a lot else being played

yeah, the sex pistols were a breath of fresh air - but come to think of it, so was "flashlight"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is what you could have been listening to.

My ears! That is what everyone listened to, and it is exactly the kind of crap that drove me to become a punk rocker.

And in other news..

oh, please - hard rock and r&b were top 40 staples back then - if you didn't care for the softer "hippie" stuff, there was quite a lot else being played

Let's go look at a sample of Top 40, the Billboard Top Hits of 1977, the year punk broke out. Here's the Top 10.

1. Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright), Rod Stewart
2. I Just Want to Be Your Everything, Andy Gibb
3. Best of My Love, Emotions
4. Love Theme (From "A Star Is Born"), Barbra Streisand
5. Angel In Your Arms, Hot
6. I Like Dreamin', Kenny Nolan
7. Don't Leave Me This Way, Thelma Houston
8. (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher, Rita Coolidge
9. Undercover Angel, Alan O'Day
10. Torn Between Two Lovers, Mary MacGregor

Every single song on that Top 100 makes me want to blow my brains out.. except for one: #26. And that one really ought to.

Yeah, my friends and I desperately looked for alternatives, most of them liked Led Zep and Pink Floyd, or some other godawful Prog Rock crap. That was almost more annoying than Top 40. I mostly listened to a lot of guitar gods like Jeff Beck or Clapton (Cream era only), but that just wasn't enough.

Anyway, I always wondered how the hell people formed such a bond with crappy pop music. I was amused by Craig Kilborn's joke, he said your musical taste was set for life by whatever was playing when you lost your virginity. Then he'd blast his tune: "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:18 PM on August 22, 2011


Anyway, I always wondered how the hell people formed such a bond with crappy pop music. I was amused by Craig Kilborn's joke, he said your musical taste was set for life by whatever was playing when you lost your virginity.

*quietly leaves room to go track down first boyfriend and thank him for having an awesome record collection*
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:58 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every single song on that Top 100 makes me want to blow my brains out.. except for one: #26. And that one really ought to.

stevie wonder, johnny rivers (oh, yes, i'll defend that one!), the commodores, the brothers johnson, fleetwood mac, bob seger, the spinners, steve miller make you want to blow your brains out?

nah, you just hate pop - why the hell were you listening to top 40 for, anyway?

that flashlight song i mentioned? - that was 1977, too - and in the long run, i got more from that then i did the sex pistols
posted by pyramid termite at 10:11 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, all of them. You couldn't escape Top 40 back in those days. Believe me I tried.

You know, I saw Fleetwood Mac live in concert in 1976. But I only went to see the warmup act: Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group. Fleetwood Mac was really late to the stage, like REALLY late, I guess they were busy coking up. Beck played for an extra hour and a half, far longer than Fleetwood Mac did. And Beck was obviously furious, the longer he played, the harder and angrier and more intense he got. That was probably the best concert I ever saw. I don't even remember anything about Fleetwood Mac, except that I was so close to the stage that I could see right up Stevie Nicks' dress when she twirled around.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:28 PM on August 22, 2011



You know, I saw Fleetwood Mac live in concert in 1976. But I only went to see the warmup act: Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group. Fleetwood Mac was really late to the stage, like REALLY late, I guess they were busy coking up. Beck played for an extra hour and a half, far longer than Fleetwood Mac did. And Beck was obviously furious, the longer he played, the harder and angrier and more intense he got. That was probably the best concert I ever saw. I don't even remember anything about Fleetwood Mac, except that I was so close to the stage that I could see right up Stevie Nicks' dress when she twirled around.


Non-hypothetical question:

Is it better to see Stevie Nicks, Meat Loaf, or Roger Waters performing The Wall? Currently, not back in the day.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:34 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't even remember anything about Fleetwood Mac, except that I was so close to the stage that I could see right up Stevie Nicks' dress when she twirled around.

she must have been taken by the wind
posted by pyramid termite at 10:54 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it better to see Stevie Nicks, Meat Loaf, or Roger Waters performing The Wall?

I think that as Waters is the original creator there would be more depth to his performance. A Meatloaf rendition of "Dirty Woman" sounds interesting, and he has the operatic chops for it. There is nothing from The Wall that I can imagine Stevie Nicks performing with any sort of conviction.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:06 AM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


James Taylor's version of Bodies, or John Lydon singin a gamey Fire & Rain?
posted by artdrectr at 1:36 AM on August 23, 2011


Is it better to see Stevie Nicks, Meat Loaf, or Roger Waters performing The Wall? Currently, not back in the day.

Currently? Roger Waters. Back in the day? I'd pay green money for a time machine to an alternate universe where I can see 1977 Stevie Nicks perform The Wall.
posted by The World Famous at 1:51 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


And he championed Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" too. I remember reading that review, it was hilarious. But I don't recall that he actually advocated listening to it, he enjoyed it more as an attack on Reed's record label.

Lester Bangs genuinely enjoyed Metal Machine Music. It's funny you say that, because I just read a Jim DeRogatis interview with Robert Quine wherein Quine recalls Lester going to people's houses and checking their copies of White Light/White Heat for proper wear and tear. (He accused Quine himself of owning a too-clean copy, and Quine said, "Lester, how many copies do you think I've worn out, you moron?") I may be wrong about this, because I read that Bangs bio a long time ago, but I seem to recall that DeRogatis had some crackpot theory about how Lester needed to listen to Metal Machine Music because his dad died in a burning building, and MMM sounded like a burning building (to DeRogatis). I'm thinking, though, that maybe DeRo just didn't get why anybody would want to listen to noise music. If you did a survey, you would probably find that most people who enjoy the genre have never lost anyone to any kind of fire or crash or building collapse. I mean, I haven't. If I did, maybe I wouldn't be able to tolerate anything stronger than, say, "Your Smiling Face." Which I totally loved when I was in the backseat being subjected to the James Taylor cassette, if only because it signalled that his tortuously slow (why does he sing it so slowly?) cover of "Handy Man" was finally over. I wonder whether I would still love it now that I don't have to listen to something I hate first, and now that I know why I loved it. I am going to give James Taylor some fingernail money and look into this.
posted by Adventurer at 1:56 AM on August 23, 2011


"Hell" inside your mind? Not just "Carolina"?

Oh man, that song is just wet bread to me.

Meanwhile, I cannot get over the upthread dissing of "Don't Leave Me This Way." Or the idea of 1977 Stevie Nicks doing The Wall. I want that to have happened so badly. I'm not even into The Wall, but put some witches and scarves and cocaine crystal visions and the Fleetwood Mac rhythm section in there and that thing would come alive like a mid-period Kate Bush album.
posted by Adventurer at 2:35 AM on August 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: The Roger Waters show is amazing. I saw it in December, and it's going to be a highlight of my concert-going life from now on, I can already tell.

He's poked and prodded the show a lot, is doing a lot with modern projection techniques, and his expansion of the themes really work well.

Just my two cents, but I'd take this particular Waters tour over the other two this time around if I were you.
posted by hippybear at 4:23 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


People hate on James Taylor? I had no idea. Then again, I am from Massachusetts, and he's got favorite son status in these parts.

Not that this is actually great praise. Massachusetts, and especially Boston, seem to be permanently trapped in musical time bubble somewhere in the late 70s/early 80s. I don't think I've heard "Don't Fear the Reaper" played on the radio since I left high school except in Boston....

I have no real opinion on James Taylor, but man, Massachusetts needs to realize that there has been music made in the last 30 years....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:27 AM on August 23, 2011


The Dropkick Murphys?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:37 AM on August 23, 2011


The Dropkick Murphys?

Hey, don't complain to me, complain to Boston. I am sure people have made music in Boston since 1980, it's the city's apparent musical taste I am startled by....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:41 AM on August 23, 2011


Other musical stuff going on in 1977.

"Perhaps most important is the beginning of what has become known as the punk rock explosion. 1977 was the year of formation of The Avengers, Bad Brains, Black Flag, Crass, Discharge, Fear, The Flesh Eaters, The Germs, The Misfits, 999, The Pagans, Plasmatics, VOM, The Weirdos, and X.

1977 also saw the release of several pivotal albums in the development of punk music. Widely-acknowledged as masterpieces and among the earliest first full-length purely punk albums, The Clash by The Clash, The Damned's Damned, Damned, Damned, the Dead Boys' Young, Loud and Snotty, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers' L.A.M.F., The Jam's In the City, the Ramones' Rocket to Russia, Richard Hell & the Voidoids' Blank Generation, the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, Television's Marquee Moon, and Wire's Pink Flag are usually considered their respective masterpieces, and kick-started punk music as the musical genre it eventually became. The year also saw the release of debut albums by bands often associated with, if not defined as, punk, such as Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True, Motörhead's Motörhead, Suicide's Suicide, and Talking Heads' Talking Heads: 77. It also saw the release of Iggy Pop's Lust for Life, his second record as a solo artist."

From 1977 in music.
posted by bjgeiger at 6:30 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really got aware of Taylor when Sweet Baby James came out. This prompted me (and thousands of others) to go back and get James Taylor, the first album on Apple. Loved them both (didn't hurt that I had an on-again-off-again gf named Carolina back then).

What was compelling was his musical style, the unique finger plucking (as opposed to the usual syncopated finger picking that came out of the Mississippi Delta) and his ability to work through a pretty harrowing set of experiences in early adulthood, and come out with great songs about them. Wore out that vinyl.

Back then also, there was this illusional connection between the artist and audience. "James," or "Carol," or "Jackson," or whatever. This "community" spin sold a lot more records. (I remember that his manager, Peter Asher, recorded a spot for FM play announcing some concert cancellations, due to "James" cutting his hand with a Skilsaw, while working on his house. The tone was like a friend telling you about a mutual friend's accident.)

When Mudslide Slim came out, it was just MEH (not that this expression was in the parlance of the day). But it bored me, and Taylor lost me at that point, even as he went on to more commercial success.

But then, his later covers of Motown stuff (Mocking Bird, How Sweet It Is) were just lamentable, IMO. After that, there was no going back to him, no matter what he did.

(Disclaimer: Sweet Baby James got heavy rotation, among the lullabys that I sang to my daughter, when she was very young.)
posted by Danf at 6:53 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Highway Toes", by James Taylor Christopher Guest, from the 1973 Woodstock parody album Lemmings.
posted by Iridic at 7:40 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


1977 also saw the release of several pivotal albums in the development of punk music. Widely-acknowledged as masterpieces and among the earliest first full-length purely punk albums, The Clash..."

Wow, I bought all those albums in '77. Even Motorhead, which seemed more Heavy Metal than Punk to me.

Meanwhile, James Taylor hit #46 on the Billboard Top 100 of 1977 with "Handy Man."
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:24 AM on August 23, 2011


Huh. As much as I love Sweet Baby James I can't recall ever hearing my dad play Mudslide Slim. He owned it, but I never heard it.

Amused because of all the anti-JT punk discussion coupled with the fact that I am listening to Dead Milkmen while reading this thread.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:19 AM on August 23, 2011


The insipidness of James Taylor's late 70s output so provoked Cat Stevens that he converted to Islam, changed his name to Mohammed-Something-or-Other and expatriated from the great nation of Billboard 100.

Mr Something-or-Other nee Stevens has been detained in the TSA staff break room of the Newark Liberty International Airport since 2003.
posted by xod at 11:24 AM on August 23, 2011


His born-again name is Yusuf Islam. Converts always have to be more Catholic than the Pope.
posted by jfuller at 12:17 PM on August 23, 2011


Yusuf Islam has put out a few albums in the last decade and he's been touring all over. See?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:38 PM on August 23, 2011


Wow, Its Still Open!!
posted by marienbad at 4:14 PM on August 23, 2011


Not that this is actually great praise. Massachusetts, and especially Boston, seem to be permanently trapped in musical time bubble somewhere in the late 70s/early 80s.

The funny thing for me is, I have yet to meet a person from Massachusetts who knew who Jonathan Richman was, or, for that matter, who the Modern Lovers were. It may be a mere statistical fluke but this has been my experience. Not that Jonathan Richman gives a shit about it.

On the other hand, I have met only one person from Texas who did not know who Bob Wills was. What a total doofus he was, too.
posted by y2karl at 2:15 PM on August 25, 2011


Not that Bob Wills gives a shit about it, either.
posted by y2karl at 2:16 PM on August 25, 2011


Very few people from Alabama know that Sun Ra (Sonny Blount) was born there. For that matter, I'd wager that more than half the people alive in Alabama today don't even know that Hank Williams was a Bama boy.

People everywhere in America are really pretty under informed about musicians in general, I think. At least, the ones not currently appearing on American Idol.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:22 PM on August 25, 2011


Not that Jonathan Richman gives a shit about it.

What's it? He's in love with Massachusetts.
posted by jwhite1979 at 7:04 AM on August 26, 2011


Judging from his remarks onstage over the years, that was then and this is now. Now being that he's truly a citizen of the world. He's multi-lingual and his appeal translates well and he has written original songs in Spanish, French Italian and, of late, Hebrew.
posted by y2karl at 12:07 PM on August 26, 2011


Very few people from Alabama know that Sun Ra (Sonny Blount) was born there.

Yeah, but for years, right up into the 1980s at least, he was listed in the Philly phone book:

Ra, Sun 5626 Morton St 215-XXX-XXXX

It tickled me to see him listed that way, like just another resident alien from Saturn. But you know: some called him Mister Ra, some called him Mister Ree.
 
posted by Herodios at 2:09 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


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