This past week James Taylor released, Before This World, his 17th studio album of new material and first since October Road, in 2002. James says in this recent article about his life and crafting songs, James Taylor: 'A big part of my story is recovery from addiction', "It used to be that these songs got squeezed out of every pore, and you just couldn’t stop ’em. Then it slowly turned to where you had to kind of coax them out. Now you have to pull them out with a winch." I often go back to the classic tale of the Tortoise and the Hare, as a life's lesson in defining achievement. My take has a slight twist on the classic line, 'slow and steady wins the race'. I would prefer to say, "slow and steady for the long run." As an inspiration to us all, James has done just that. After a whirlwind start, James was fast out of the gate, first young artist to sign with the Beatles on Apple Records, drug addiction, hit songs and famous women, and a life of activism. Except for the drug part, James was the man, or at least the walking man in the 70's to aspire to. But as addiction and fame take so many, James learned to slow down and set a new, slower pace for himself. I'm personally inspired by James to enjoy the fruits of life but also stay steady on our run here on earth and to always keep creating.
So last Tuesday, I bought Before This World and highly recommend you purchase it too. Now as I get older, I find myself getting extremely emotional when watching a great movie, drama or news show, and of course, great music. On Saturday, Mary Kit and I saw, Everybody's Talkin': The Music of Harry Nilsson, at the Lyceum Theater in San Diego. Well, if you read my previous blog, As time goes by Harry Nilsson, you hold up, you know I'm a big Harry Nilsson fan. Nilsson's music is so emotionally deep and was sung so well by the cast, that I teared up quite a bit during the whole play. Same thing this past week with listening to Before This World, tearing up because the songs are so deeply crafted and with James, it just hits home. The song, You and I Again is one of James Taylor's best songs ever, and I'm guessing you will agree as well. I'll lead with it on my Before This World YouTube playlist. Enjoy and just keep creating and loving for the long run my friends.
Update - Before This World has debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in it's first week! Though James has had eleven albums reach "Top Ten" in his career, this is his first #1 album.
But hey, Mary Kit and I were there for the nostalgia and did this musical ever deliver the music! The songs and singing performances were electric and still have us humming the tunes we grew up with on the radio. I'm sure many of these songs will be in my head for weeks as I put this Motown playlist together for this blog.
Also, since the play only mentions one line about The Funk Brothers, I do want to mention their impact to the world of popular music in the 1960's and early 70's. The Funk Brothers, were hand-picked studio musicians assembled by Gordy in 1959 to be the house band for all the recordings done at Motown in Detroit (Hitsville... USA), until Gordy moved Motown to Los Angles in 1972. The Funk Brothers were not invited to join Motown in Los Angeles. This is all brought to light in the 2002 documentary, Standing in the Shadows of Motown about The Funk Brothers, which I highly recommend. I believe I saw it on Showtime several months ago, but currently I can't find it being played on TV or freely streamed on any service. (Here is the Amazon Prime rent price of $2.99 and purchase price for $5.99 if you are interested.)
This week is also the traditional time of year for K-12 school to end and celebrate high school graduation. I can't think of a better way to kick off the summer with a playlist of all my favorite Motown songs on YouTube. Motown the Musical uses the promo line, "A beat of a generation. A soul of the nation." So now, enjoy all these wonderful artists' enduring songs with the beat and soul of the Funk Brothers backing them up.
I have finally updated 13 previous blogs with YouTube videos to replace the Grooveshark audio files that no longer work. The Grooveshark website was shut down on April 30th of this year.
So, take a look back on these posts as I have included many new tracks along with concert footage or pictorial videos as individual clips or new playlists. Enjoy and please comment on any of these blogs or videos you like.
Mary Kit and I went out on our first date June 1, 1973. We had met as seniors in high school English class. She sat in the desk right in front of me and being the painfully shy person that I was, didn't ask her out on a date until a couple weeks before we graduated. As time was ticking, I asked her out and we went to the movies and saw Blume in Love. Thinking back, it was perfect.
So forty-two years later, and a lot of water under the bridge, I wake up this morning in West Seattle (where Mary Kit's three children live). Well, she surprises me with a gift certificate for a massage in the morning and tickets to Bette Midler tonight at the Key Arena in Seattle. That's my Mary Kit, always giving. Later, I'm driving back from my massage, by myself in the rain, and the song's opening lyrics just come into my head.
"They were perfect for each other and they knew it, they both been around the block and lived through it too"
The song, Seattle Rain, written and sung by dear friend Paul Hobbs. Paul is a fantastic musician who I've known since junior high. Recently, we talked about setting up a YouTube Channel for many of his songs. I also plan to feature his work on a future blog once we get some more songs uploaded.
But for now, I leave you with Seattle Rain, a wonderful song about two people who found each other.
I love you, Mary Kit. Happy first date anniversary!