It seems likely that, back in 1968 when James Taylor signed to Apple records for his first album as an aspiring singer-songwriter, he would have happily -- willfully -- consented to an interview with any publication that would have him. Ah, what good old days those must have been, because 2014 finds Taylor -- who is performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Tuesday, June 24 -- bigger than his britches and not interested in doing interviews. What a shame that fame should make him so inaccessible. To be fair, maybe there is something else that prevents him from taking interviews, like the surprising, inherent shyness that Taylor shows in television interviews?
Paul Keleher, via Wikipedia Commons James Taylor
Oh, but the things we would have asked him. About the Beatles, ex-wife Carly Simon, the musical competitiveness with siblings, his lengthy drug addiction and his botching of the national anthem at the World Series. But since we can't, we'll have to settle for snapshots of these subjects from the man who told Dick Cavett in 1977 that he "was going to be a chemist, but took a left turn and ended up in New York."
So, how did he get here?
Luck, Luck, Luck... All You Need Is Luck
James Taylor was the first non-English artist signed to the Beatles' Apple label. This was in 1968, when he managed to get his demo into the hands of Peter Asher, of Peter and Gordon fame, and an A&R man at the label. Asher presented the songs to Paul McCartney who, clearly, heard something in Taylor. McCartney and George Harrison both appear on "Carolina in My Mind" from his poorly received self-titled debut solo album. It wasn't enough to keep him on the label, however. When Apple began an internal shakeup, Taylor returned to the states.
I'm Waiting for the Man
When Taylor initially moved to New York in 1966 with guitarist Danny Kortchmar (Jo Mama, Don Henley) -- who he'd been performing with since 1963 and who later provided his connection to Asher -- he discovered, "it was as easy to get high in the [Greenwich] Village as get a drink," Taylor told Timothy White for his biography, Long Ago and Far Away. This began a long association with heroin. "Rainy Day Man," first recorded with the Flying Machine, chronicles these struggles. Though getting clean led to his move to London and his fortunate association with the Beatles, Taylor continued on-and-off drug use into the 1970s.
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