While I got my love for Carole King from my sister Kathy, I seem to remember discovering James Taylor via some friends. This was several years after his amazing album Sweet Baby James, but I definitely caught up on that 1970 album. I remember the first time I heard Fire And Rain, and thinking it was so much more emotional, more intimate than anything I had heard before.
There have been many a story about the song, from the focus being his own struggle with mental health, those of friends, and how life effected it all. Taylor certainly battled his demons, with stays in institutions when younger, as well as his addictions. But his highly evocative and biographical music seemed to help him deal with it all.
While more of a period piece than a great work of art, The Steamroller Blues are reflective of a time when many in rock 'n roll were looking back to the blues legends for inspiration. But it is fun!
One of my favorite songs from the album is Country Road. Starting with the evocative guitar and moving on with the percussion, there is a vivid and vibrant use of language and imagery that evokes so much. The song managed to blend the styles of folk, rock and country, blazing a trail for storytellers-to-come.
And, of course, everyone expects to hear him sing Carole King's You've Got A Friend, but I think that is one of those songs that is played over and over. For me, I'd prefer the charm of the title song from the album, Sweet Baby James.
For me, the style and beauty of Sweet Baby James still holds up, 41 years later. When I listen to him, and can see how he helped to shape my musical life, and understand why I have such a great love for the music of great singer/songwriters like Eric Himan, Tom Goss, Christopher Dallman, Jake Walden and so many others. You can find out more about what James have been up to for the last few decade by visiting his official website here. You can find his official FaceBook page here. You can purchase the album for $9.99 on iTunes here, and on Amazon here. But I am sure you can find it wherever music is sold. It is a classic everyone should own.