James Taylor

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About James Taylor

“In my case it’s very simple,” singer/songwriter James Taylor told Apple Music about his approach to selecting which songs to record. “I simply take the song that I feel some real connection with, and then just play it on the guitar and sing it with my voice.” Taylor’s simple distillation—of arrangement, craft, feeling—has been a defining element of his music since well before his breezy 1970 breakthrough hit, “Fire and Rain.” Born in Boston and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Taylor captured the collective comedown of the nation at the end of the ‘60s with gentle, understated folk that he created in California’s famed Laurel Canyon. The subject matter behind Taylor’s fingerpicked guitar isn’t always as soft as it sounds; “Fire and Rain” draws on his time in psychiatric hospitals and a friend’s suicide, and “A Junkie’s Lament” addresses heroin addiction, a struggle Taylor understood firsthand, over dreamy strings. Still, there’s good reason Taylor’s name itself conjures something uplifting and calm. “You’ve Got a Friend”—written by Carole King in response to “Fire and Rain”—is one of his best-known covers and a deeply moving declaration of unconditional love. Taylor’s warm vibe has forged an enduring emotional connection with fans: Since 1970’s Sweet Baby James, only one of his records has failed to go gold, and he got his very first No. 1 album with 2015’s Before This World.

Boston, MA, United States
March 12, 1948
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