Hello everybody. I'm James Taylor.

My new album, Before This World, was just released at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200, marking my highest chart debut ever since I was signed to Apple Records back in 1968...It's very gratifying to get this kind of response to what I think of as the culmination of my development as a recording artist.

You can get an idea of the album from this teaser trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfwf14gIsNk

And get some free guitar lessons from yours truly here.

Victoria is assisting me via phone. AMA.

https://twitter.com/JamesTaylor_com/status/613786248252125185

EDIT: Well, in closing, I'd like to thank everybody for spending some time having this chat. It's been amazing. And I think we should do it more often!

I'm amazed and delighted that Before This World has been so well-received. It's so much more than I could have hoped for.

And for that, I thank you all.

Comments: 489 • Responses: 55  • Date: 

CapitolBillDC259 karma

Winter, spring, summer or fall?

RealJamesTaylor234 karma

Fall is my favorite.

LiirFlies22 karma

But why?

kinglouislxix56 karma

Because it means Winter is coming?

RealJamesTaylor267 karma

No...it's just the most beautiful season, to me.

The bugs are gone. You can walk in the woods without covering yourself with insecticide.

I don't know? I do love it.

BashAtTheBeach96167 karma

Hey James. I love your song "Carolina In My Mind". What is your favorite place to visit when you are in North Carolina?

RealJamesTaylor247 karma

I love the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.

There's a cabin on the Towe River in Yancey County where my dad used to take us, when we were kids.

I'd love to go back there.

Ionnus130 karma

Hi Mr. Taylor! I just wanted to say that your rendition of “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” is one of the very few songs that can make me feel good instantly, no matter what mood I’m in. For my question, how is it working with Carole King? Do you learn/pick up things from one another? She seems like a phenomenal woman!

RealJamesTaylor175 karma

My musical relationship with Carole King was the most gratifying connection in my musical life.

We definitely shared ideas and a musical language back and forth for years in the early Seventies. She's a phenomenal person.

rsc95 karma

Jellyman Kelly (from Sesame Street) is my two-year-old son's favorite song. What's the story behind it? Do the lyrics refer to anything in particular? How did you decide on guitar and tuba? Is there any connection to Machine Gun Kelly? Thank you.

RealJamesTaylor159 karma

Yeah! Thanks for asking. I wrote that song while I was driving in the car with my daughter, Sarah Maria. Sally is really what we call her. Sally and I were driving into town, and we just started singing this song. I think she was maybe 5, 6 years old? Very young. And I recorded it for a Sesame Street album... and then sometime later, when I actually was a guest on Sesame Street, I performed it with a tuba player named Howard Johnson. It's really just because Howard was on the show that day as well, it wasn't something we had planned in advance, but it worked out really well.

The lyrics don't really have a deeper meaning. It's just a nonsense song you sing with a kid in the car, you know? It's just totally made up out of thin air, no relations to any person living or dead.

mentortormentor93 karma

You had a cameo in one of the Simpsons' best episodes, "Deep Space Homer". Can you share any of your experiences of working with the Simpsons staff?

RealJamesTaylor131 karma

Yeah, sure! One of my best friends is a writer, director and producer for The Simpsons - a guy whom you'll see credited often at the end of Simpsons episodes, named Dave Mirkin. And Dave and I have been friends for a long, long time. We're both guitar players. And he invited me to do a guest spot on the Simpsons, it was a delight!

datums84 karma

Your albums have long been regarded as particularly well engineered, and October Road is one of the best sounding albums ever made. Is it a deliberate choice of yours to ensure that your music is recorded this way?

Either way the audiophile community thanks you.

RealJamesTaylor144 karma

Well, I'm really glad that you appreciate that.

Because it is very important to me that the songs be well-recorded.

I think that we have paid a price for the immediate accessibility that we have to music today. Because MP3s, and even CDs, limit the fidelity of music as most people hear it.

I'm hopeful that in the future, high fidelity recording will become more and more important to people who listen to recorded music.

In particular, I admire Neil Young for his efforts to raise the bar.

westShaft75 karma

Hey James, what's your stance on the music streaming industry and its dealings with writers/producers/artists? Another Taylor made the news recently regarding this subject :)

RealJamesTaylor189 karma

As a professional musician and songwriter, I'm really grateful to Taylor Swift for making a stand.

I think that, generally speaking, if anyone is making money off of an artist's music, then the artist should participate, and their share should be the lion's share.

It's reassuring to see someone like Taylor Swift step up to the plate, and take a stand.

Hats off to her.

Schatham66 karma

Are you going to resurrect one of your older, less well-known songs for the tour? I would love to hear "Gorilla" - or any album cut from around that time ("Money Machine", hint hint). 😉

RealJamesTaylor161 karma

"Money Machine" is a great idea.

I can't promise that it will be in the set this summer. But I will promise you that we will rehearse it, and give it a try!

maybay1763 karma

Hello James! Your songs have brought peace, joy, and love to my partner and I. Thank you for writing such beautiful music. My question is…what do you think are the pros and cons to a woman falling in love with a “walking man”?

RealJamesTaylor90 karma

Well, it's probably better than a "running man?"

Probably lots of fresh air?

If she has a dog, it'll make the dog happy!

But seriously, the balancing act between road and family has always been one of the major challenges in this life as a touring musician.

JTPLAYER61 karma

Hi James, Congrats on the number one album! As a guitar player and a fan of your style of playing, I very much appreciate you posting the online guitar lessons on your website. What inspired you to produce these lessons in such a detailed manner and will there be more in the future?

RealJamesTaylor88 karma

Well, thanks for the feedback on the guitar lessons. I'm glad you found them useful!

To answer your last question first, yes, we will shoot a new batch of guitar lessons this coming Fall.

The reason I got into it was that I noticed that a number of guitar teachers were teaching my technique. And I thought it would be worthwhile for people to get it directly from me.

It's really a matter of wanting to pass on what I've learned, for what it's worth.

StormingTheSwords56 karma

Hi James, who is one singer that you'd love to do a duet with?

RealJamesTaylor115 karma

That's a hard question to answer. There are so many.

But I'd love to do a duet with Bonnie Raitt.

I'd also love to sing a song with Aretha Franklin at some point.

I'll leave it at those two for the time being.

Buxbaum8947 karma

My mom says a concert you did with Carol King a few years ago was the best show she's ever seen. Will the two of you go back on tour any time soon?

RealJamesTaylor80 karma

That tour, with Carole King in 2010, was such a high point for me, and I think also for Carole, that we both agreed to leave it on a high note. So as wonderful as it was, I don't think we will do it again. It was one of those "once-in-a-lifetime" things.

Kidballa43 karma

You've obviously been very successful and accomplished, but have you ever looked back over your career and wished you would've done something differently? i.e. do you have any major regrets?

RealJamesTaylor149 karma

Yeah, I've got one regret I can think of.

Randy Newman asked me to sing the theme song for the first TOY STORY film.

And I couldn't find the time to do it.

Lyle Lovett did a great job.

But I wish it had been me.

KickerBird42 karma

What was your most favorite song that you wrote?

RealJamesTaylor149 karma

I guess it's still "Sweet Baby James."

Of course, I have many favorites, including the newest material. But somehow, "Sweet Baby James" is still my favorite.

Frajer40 karma

did you and Carly encourage Ben to become a musician?

RealJamesTaylor73 karma

You know, I think we did.

Mainly because kids learn by example. I remember long car rides when Ben would play the guitar for 3 or 4 hours at a stretch. I never really felt good about advising him to pursue a musical career, because it's such a risky business. But I suppose by my example, I did encourage him.

He's a beautiful and talented musician.

Bellevert37 karma

Hello James! Thank you so much for doing this AMA! I love the new album and especially love the bluegrass twist! What inspired this influence? Also, my mom loves your music and Carolina in my Mind is her favorite song (they live in Beaufort) :)

RealJamesTaylor36 karma

Oh yeah! I didn't really think of this album as having a bluegrass connection. I guess it's possible that Andrea Zonn's violin parts give it that bluegrass essence. Beaufort is a beautiful town. Give them my regards.

martinhth31 karma

Hi James! First I'd like to thank you for signing my guitar at Tanglewood two years ago after your July 4th show. I doubt you remember that, but I have it hanging up in my living room and am grateful to have had you take the time to do that for me!

Secondly, are there any songs of yours that have a particularly deep meaning to you personally that your listeners may not necessarily know?

RealJamesTaylor72 karma

Well, first of all, you're welcome. I was happy to sign your guitar.

Make sure to take it down from the wall and play it sometimes.

And to answer your question, I have no doubt that there are some songs that have meaning to me personally that are unknown and un-knowable to anyone else. There's a song called "Only for Me" that speaks to my relationship both with my father and my older brother.

That's the one I choose.

sheelac28 karma

Congratulations on your Billboard #1 Album! You deserve it! My question is about my favorite song: "Stand and Fight!". Is there any specific event that inspired this song?

RealJamesTaylor41 karma

That's a very interesting example.

The lyrics to that song, "Stand and Fight!," were written by an old friend name Jake Brackman. Jake wrote that lyric to be in the soundtrack of a small independent movie, the name of which I forget. He asked me to put some music to it, and I really liked the way it turned out, so I recorded it.

It's really rare that I collaborate with anyone else (writing songs, that is).

But when it does happen, it's always a pleasant surprise.

Eponeen27 karma

Hi Mr. Taylor! My dad and I are both huge fans of your music! He's listened to you for most of his adult life and introduced me to your first album just about ten years ago. Listening to you as we drive through the mountains of NC, or to your Christmas album while we cook at Christmastime count among some of my most beautiful memories, often because of how dad and I can share our love of your albums. Just last week we had a great time when I visited him talking about how much we love your new project! Thank you for the enormous positive impact I know you've had on both my life and his. I can't think of any other artist who means as much to me as you do.

My question to you is: are there any of your older songs that you don't identify with much anymore? Similarly, are there any that still particularly resonate with you?

I also asked my dad what he'd like to say and he told me to ask you for your pecan pie recipe :)

RealJamesTaylor35 karma

Okay, well, starting with your last question first, you can tell your dad that my pecan pie recipe comes from the JOY OF COOKING!

And you know, it's one of those things where if I don't really care for a song, I can't finish it.

So anything that makes it onto record is generally a keeper, for me.

So I don't think, I can't say there are songs that I've gotten tired of.

It's more like I feel that sometimes I need to take a song out of rotation because the audience may have heard it too much.

And there are many songs that still resonate with me from my early songwriting days. I love playing "Sweet Baby James" and "Carolina In My Mind." Also "Your Smiling Face," "Walking Man" - it's actually a pretty long list.

TheSanityInspector24 karma

Do you have a set song-writing routine, or are there particular circumstances which are more conducive to songwriting for you?

RealJamesTaylor43 karma

You know, the initial phase of writing any song is sort of like a lightning strike.

Often, it happens when I'm sitting down and playing the guitar, and a musical idea just starts to emerge from the instrument itself.

Often that will be accompanied by a scrap of lyric. And I always carry around a small pocket recorder to catch those ideas when they occur.

The hard part comes when it's time to finish the lyric and put the entire song together.

That takes focus. And concentration.

It used to work for me to have an office somewhere very near my home where I could spend 3 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon working on my songs.

But recently, that hasn't been enough. Nowadays, it seems, I need to totally remove myself from any distractions at all for as much as a week at a time.

After a couple of empty days, the ideas start to arrive.

I guess that's how it's gonna work from now on.

liljakeyplzandthnx23 karma

Hi James! First of all, thanks for so many years of wonderful music. Your talent has entertained millions round the world, myself included. Now to my questions:

What do you do when you can't think of anything to write down?

Which of your songs did you least expect to get popular?

RealJamesTaylor66 karma

When I'm blocked and can't seem to find a lyric, I remove myself from all distractions. Sometimes I'll take a walk, or I'll go out on a lake in a small boat. Sometimes I'll lay down and take a nap.

These are just a few tricks to break something loose in my subconscious, and bring it to the surface.

As to which of my songs did I least expect to be popular, I'd say "Two James Taylors on a See-Saw."

FeastingCrows23 karma

Hi James, who is your favourite band? All the best from Canada!

RealJamesTaylor52 karma

There's a band called Little Village. I don't think they tour very much.

But they made a fabulous album.

Little Village.

Irene_Adler_21 karma

What's your guilty pleasure food?

RealJamesTaylor47 karma

Heath Bars.

hdeeb519 karma

Hi James, what was your inspiration for writing the "walking man" song? I find myself relating to that song, as if that person is me, but I can't quite explain it!

RealJamesTaylor28 karma

You know what? I find it hard to explain myself!

I've always thought that the "Walking Man" had something to do with my father.

But it's also a personification of the coming of winter.

silentm99919 karma

I recently read an article about an addiction you once had. What steps did you take to kick that habit, and keep it kicked?

RealJamesTaylor35 karma

Thanks for asking. Recovery is a huge part of my life.

And it never ends.

By that I mean that you're never totally cured. And you have to practice recovery, and keep it green.

The only game in town is 12-step recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and the other related fellowships are the only way to go in my opinion.

techguy61216 karma

Hi James - Love your music and you've been a huge inspiration to me (as a guitarist) - THANK YOU for all that you've done over the years! My question: I live near where Olson guitars are made in Minnesota. They're amazing instruments. When did you first play an Olson guitar and what did you like about them so much?

RealJamesTaylor28 karma

Great question.

In the mid-80's, sometime in the mid-80's, I was passing through Minneapolis to perform a benefit concert.

I think we were trying to return wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

When I checked into my hotel room, there was a guitar on my bed.

Somehow, James Olson had gotten it in there.

As soon as I played it, I knew I had to have one.

My relationship with James Olson has been a fantastic blessing. And I now have a number of his guitars.

What can I say? They're a joy to play, and they sound magnificent.

jaceTC16 karma

Good afternoon, James! First of all THANK YOU for all your amazing music. My wife and I had the privilege to see you perform in SLC two years ago and we'll never forget it.

I've always wanted to ask you:

1) Who is your favorite Red Sox player? 2) Which artist/group has had the biggest influence on your career as a songwriter?

RealJamesTaylor30 karma

1.) I would say that - I'm going to give you two, Carl Yastrzemski, and the other is Big Papi aka David Ortiz.

2.) And the group that had the biggest influence on my career as a songwriter was probably the Beatles.

Tyler031714 karma

What was your experience like with the Mormon Tabranacle Choir?

RealJamesTaylor24 karma

It's a big, beautiful, musical community.

The same thing goes for the Utah Symphony Orchestra.

The composer John Williams is a dear friend. And he recommended that I accept the invitation because they make such a beautiful noise.

jonschweitzer13 karma

Hi James! I'm digging the new album -- it's a real treat to hear vocals from your wife and son on the new Angels of Fenway song. Can you tell us about what it was like bringing them into the recording studio, and are they as big of Red Sox fans as yourself?

RealJamesTaylor15 karma

My wife Kim definitely is the big Red Sox fan in the family. It was she who pulled us all into the Red Sox Nation. As to recording, I record at home, so Kim and the two kids are always around. It was really easy to get them involved.

martinhth13 karma

What is the story behind "Another Day" ? That song has gotten me through so many dark places in my life and is still a shoulder to lean on when things get rough.

RealJamesTaylor27 karma

"Another Day" was written at a pretty low point in my life too.

I'd had that music for that song about 15 years when I finally put a lyric to it.

It definitely describes coming out of a very trying time.

And was helpful to me, too.

maerdred13 karma

Mr. Taylor, Many of your works are seasonal in theme or title specifically. For example, September Grass is one of my favorite songs, and I listen to it almost daily from August through November. Additionally, Mexico is basically a Summer time staple on my iPod.

Is there a specific reason that you tend to involve the seasons in the themes of your works, winter, spring, summer, or fall?

RealJamesTaylor24 karma

Well, of course "September Grass" and "You've got a friend" were written by other people. But I do write a lot about the seasons. There's a song on this new album called "Jolly Springtime" about the spring. The seasons mean a lot to me. They definitely affect my mood. And there's also another song on this album called "SnowTime" that's definitely a seasonal tune.

So yeah, it's definitely an ongoing thing. And it's definitely a big part of my work.

It's just the nature connection, with this life and this world, you know?

bridge_h12 karma

Hi James, congratulations from the UK on the huge success of Before This World, it's a really lovely album. How did you decide on the order of the songs on the CD?

RealJamesTaylor24 karma

That's a really good question.

Sequencing an album is like coming up with a setlist for a live concert.

You really have to pay attention to the flow of energy, to how one song sets up another song, to what the keys of two songs that are next to one another.

And in general, you have to be mindful of the listener's experience.

It's not something that can happen overnight.

It takes months of experimenting with different orders to get the final sequence.

bheizman11 karma

What was the meaning behind "the big girl,she's about to sing"? A cleaned up "ain't over til the fat lady sings", or something funnier?

RealJamesTaylor15 karma

No, you're right. It ain't over till the fat lady sings.

Kidballa10 karma

If you hadn't pursued music, what else would you have done?

RealJamesTaylor22 karma

Well, my father was a doctor.

And did scientific research.

I always assumed that I would be in the sciences in some capacity. Probably chemistry.

But thankfully, I got swept away by music!

KYTYRC9 karma

Hello, I am your biggest upstate NY fan…I spoke with you at a restaurant across from the Delmonte hotel I believe you were recording the Hourglass cd recorded in Rochester, NY. That was the day of my 3yr old daughter’s dance recital. Skipping forward 6 years, I took my daughter to her first concert to see you in Rochester, lucky enough to get 6th row seats and brought a picture of her in the dance uniform on the stage and asked you to sign it. You did, and I thank you! I think this is the most unique JT signature because you put a “?” at the end of your signature, most definitely wondering why you were signing a picture of a child in a dance uniform. I’m sure that has kept you up many nights  So, just a few more things: 1) I thank God for your voice, you for the lyrics, you and the band for the music, and you and Carly for Ben….the next generation!!  Thanks for being my voice. 2) I love that fact that you say my name almost daily. 3) I will be at the CMAC for you concert in July, I purchased tickets for this concert from your fan page only to find out that my company auctions off box seats with proceeds going to charity, I had to place a bid and I won it!!! So I will be the geek one in the box seats! 4) Yes I am crazy about your voice…but I am happily married with a great husband and kids, your voice was able to get me through late nights with a colicky baby among other challenges life likes to throw at us. 5) P.s. I will be the one stalking you early at the concert to get a picture and then life will be complete  Thanks again! http://imgur.com/8MprtTQ My question for you is, In 1992 on Unplugged you sang about your pet pig Mona, is that song on any of your older albums?

RealJamesTaylor9 karma

Thanks a lot for listening, and I hope to see you out there!

Strawbalicious8 karma

Hey James. What has been your biggest influence or motivator in developing your skills with the guitar? I'm self-taught and I love your music - actually I grew up to my mom always singing it and playing it and its in the soundtrack of my life - but I struggle greatly in trying to play it myself.

By the way, the only time I saw you was when I was really little and you were playing the Theater at Madison Square Garden right after your twins were born, and I yelled out "congratulations!" You probably don't remember, but congratulations again.

RealJamesTaylor14 karma

Well, thanks a lot! That was 14 years ago. But it's still a thrill.

I think my main influence as a guitar player was a man named Tom Rush.

Tom is still performing today, but back in the early Sixties, I studied him very carefully.

jonemillard8 karma

Hey James,

Have you ever had an odd fan encounter?

RealJamesTaylor20 karma

Oh yeah!

Some of my fans have become lifelong friends.

But there have also been some pretty strange encounters.

ShakeItOff19897 karma

Hey! I only got introduced to your music this year, and "Today Today Today" from your new album is awesome! What's your favorite song off Before This World?

Edit: Go Yankees ;)

RealJamesTaylor15 karma

You know, that's gonna be really difficult to answer.

When I started the album, I thought the best song that I had was "SnowTime." But recently, I've been enjoying the little piece of music called "Jolly Springtime." The song was a bit of an afterthought. But I love the way it came out.

StanleyRubric7 karma

Hey JT! Fellow native- New Englander here (Braintree, MA - off that Red Line!) I’m happy to say that above all voices in music, no other has been more prevalent throughout my 25 years, so far. Some of your records are vital to me with the changing of seasons every year (Dad Loves His Work/Hourglass - Summer, October Road…well, Autumn) and the intro to “Enough To Be On Your Way” has been played in the background as I’ve prepared for any big event/change in my life whether it was staring high school, starting college, moving away from home, etc. Heck, even my dad has already told me he wants “Secret O Life” played at his funeral!

As far as I’m concerned you’ve always been part of our family. So first off, THANK YOU.

And now I guess a question….ok! What are your feelings regarding your set lists? I know there are and will always be many people coming “to hear Fire and Rain, again and again and again,” but do you sometimes wish, like us die-hard fans do, that you could get away with playing more “deep-cuts” live? (If you ever broke into like “If I Keep My Heart Out Of Sight,” I’d probably lose my mind.)

PS: Beyond This World is absolutely incredible. Great to have you back!

RealJamesTaylor16 karma

Okay, well let's answer Stanley's question:

Thank you Stanley, for listening and for making my music a part of your experience.

I know what you mean about the set lists. And I also would prefer to play some of the less-known songs in concert. It's always a matter of getting a balance between what I think the majority of people at the concert would like to hear, and what people (you) who have such a particular knowledge of my catalogue would like to hear performed live.

Specifically, "If I Keep My Heart Out of Sight" is a song that I would love to play live. So maybe I'll take your advice, and give it a try this summer!

jcr10117 karma

What was it like working with Smokey Robinson?

RealJamesTaylor15 karma

Working with Smokey was the realization of a dream.

What a talent!

I have always loved his songs and his records. Definitely a high point.

Trixie-LaRhue5 karma

Hi James! I've been following you on Facebook and last year, pictures were posted of you making pies. You inspired me (I'd never made pies from scratch) to do so. The filling was delish, but the crust wasn't edible, even by the dog. Would you consider doing a how to video on making your favorite pie? It's just different coming from a non-"Chef". Thanks

RealJamesTaylor14 karma

You know, I'm not really a great baker. And those crusts for my pie were made by my friend Joanne Lane.

So I can't help you there (or your dog).

Maybe try a pre-made crust?

Or the other thing is we did post a little film about making those pies - well, I guess that's what you actually saw - let's see, maybe try a pre-made crust and check out the pecan pie recipe in JOY OF COOKING!

sceo025 karma

Hi James - just curious... why Western Mass?

Thanks for all your music over the years.

RealJamesTaylor21 karma

The main reason I'm in Western Mass. is that my wife Kim has always worked for the Boston Symphony, and Lennox, Mass. is where they make their summer home at Tanglewood Music Center.

I also have roots in Western Mass. since 1969.

And it just seemed like the right place to raise our two kids.

Strawbalicious4 karma

Oh! James, I've read that you and Paul McCartney have been great friends ever since he signed you with Apple Records. Why is it so rare for the two of you to perform? Is it just because of different styles?

RealJamesTaylor7 karma

Well, it's hard for two successful touring musicians to get together and work together. It takes a real commitment of time and energy.

I have performed with Paul at one occasion at a benefit in Los Angeles.

We played his song "The Two of Us" and just for that night, I got to be John Lennon.

It was pretty cool.

CarolHaggas4 karma

How did you come to work with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival several years ago, and is "hey nonny nonny" the Elizabethan equivalent of "lumalamalu?" Thanks, James.

RealJamesTaylor9 karma

That was a project of a friend named Stanley Silverman, who had interpreted a number of songs from Shakespeare's plays. He was making an album of those collected songs and asked me to sing a few of them.

It was definitely outside my comfort zone.

tnuts4204 karma

what was it like working on the movie funny people? do people ever yell "fuck facebook" at you on the street?

RealJamesTaylor9 karma

Oh yeah. Sometimes people will say that from the audience?

It was just one of those random opportunities. Judd Apatow, the director of the film, got in touch with me and offered me a part in the movie. It was great fun.

murray22254 karma

Did Gadd ever pay up on that bet that you couldn’t get the names ‘Buckwheat and Spanky’ in a song?

RealJamesTaylor8 karma

I don't think it was a bet. I don't know where that story came from. I think he was amazed that "Buckwheat and Spanky" turned up in the song "SnowTime." But I don't think we ever made a bet on it.

aliceinwonderbread3 karma

Is it true that you were scared of harmonicas for a while because of a recurring dream you had when you were a young boy? Thanks for the AMA!

RealJamesTaylor4 karma

No. That must've been someone else.

CowboySpencer2 karma

Good afternoon Mr. Taylor - long-time fan. I really loved your duet with Alison Krauss on the Louvin' Brothers tribute album.

Do you have any advice for an aspiring folk songwriter?

RealJamesTaylor10 karma

I guess my advice would probably seem obvious - just keep the music first, work on your instrument and on your voice, and try to play to an audience whenever you can. Keep your overhead low, and if you want to be free, learn how to be lonely.

darkharborgirl2 karma

Are you out mowing the lawn again? Where'd you go?

RealJamesTaylor3 karma

Well, I'm still here. Nope, not mowing the lawn.

(I take it that's a reference to the song "Family Man")

LLG01012 karma

What is your favorite song?

RealJamesTaylor10 karma

You know... there are so many.

Today, I'd have to say "Hit the Road, Jack" by Ray Charles.

But yesterday, it could have been "Penny Lane" by the Beatles.

Fluxions192 karma

At a sound check before the DC concert with Carole King, I shared some blueberries from my garden with you. You mentioned that you grow blueberries in your own garden - Since you tour for so much of the summer, are you able to have much of a garden? Do you have help with it in your absence? The good thing about blueberries is that if you aren't there to harvest it, the birds give you all the help you could need!

RealJamesTaylor3 karma

I haven't been able to have a garden for years. Because I usually work in the summertime.

You're right about the birds. They usually get them before I get home.

We have bears, too. No berries left.

I'd love to have a garden again. I'm looking forward to it someday.

AeolusBlows2 karma

Oh, Mexico! I take it you've gone since writing the song?

RealJamesTaylor8 karma

Yes, I have actually been to Mexico now.

It was a very quick stay.

But as the song says, "I've never really been, so I don't really know."

walden_ponderer2 karma

Hi, James! I grew up with your music and love attending your concerts with my parents. Your lyrics are timeless and beautiful have helped me through some dark times.

My question: Several of your songs are written in French. How much of a francophone are you, and how did you learn to speak the language?

RealJamesTaylor5 karma

When I was 14 years old, my folks sent me to a summer camp which was an immersion course in French.

My sister went too.

Somehow it always stuck with me. And then when I met my wife Kim, she turned out to have good French herself.

So we speak it sometimes, when we don't want the kids to understand us.

But they're starting to catch on too!

nkleszcz1 karma

Hey JT!

I saw you a number of years ago in Hartford. We were in the front orchestra. (You were great).

There was an inebriated audience member who tried to steal attention and try to have a conversation with you. I want to applaud how you handled him; with class and respect.

Anyway, can you share an anecdote about you being discovered in your early years, and being signed onto Apple?

RealJamesTaylor11 karma

Well, I went to London in January of 1968 with my guitar and a head full of music.

I didn't have any clear plans about how to proceed. But thankfully, I met some people in London who were very encouraging to me, and they insisted that I make a demo tape of some of my songs.

I got that tape to a man named Peter Asher, and Peter had just signed on as head of A & R for Apple Records.

It was the perfect example of being in the right place, at the right time.

And I was the first act signed to Apple Records.

Of course, I was a huge Beatles fan, and I couldn't believe my luck.

Paul and George both appear on my first album, for Apple.

And that really was a dream come true.