There’s nothing I could possibly say about the iconic James Taylor that hasn’t already been said. Over the last 40 years he has filled the airwaves with songs about addiction, love, loss, travels and according to him songs he’s not even sure of their meaning. I know this because for my Christmas present Abby had gotten us tickets to see him at The Wilshire Theatre. It was a no brainer since I’ve been a fan ever since I can remember but had never managed to see him live.
Like all the greats, no matter where you are sitting, you are happy to be in the room. Luckily for us the Theatre only seats about 4000 people so even though we were in the ‘we’re lucky to have gotten seats’ section, it was a very cool show. Yes, he played his greatest hits – “Fire and Rain”, “You’ve Got A Friend”, “Carolina In My Mind”, “Sweet Baby James”, “Shower The People” and many others. But what made this show different was that it was a basic, stripped down set with him, his guitar, and a piano player that was reminiscent of Nanci Griffith’s live CD One Fair Summer Evening - with one major difference - there was a video screen and a ginormous ‘drum machine’ that looked that a huge wooden foot that had to be wheeled on stage by 2 big guys.
You go into the evening thinking you know all about these songs and hoping that you will hear your favourite tune (which I did). What you don’t expect is the slide/video presentation and the tales to go with the songs. He shed light on some timeworn stories (like how he met Carol King and came to record “You’ve Got A Friend”) and told of his early days meeting The Beatles, traveling in Europe, and who “Karen” is from “Carolina In My Mind”. We saw photos of his parents, family, friends and for a special bonus they had filmed the Tanglewood Choral Group accompanying him on “Shower The People” (no room for improvisation there!). It was a very cool touch and filled the room with a warmth you never could imagine.
I’ve always felt a special connection to JT. I think it’s the New England/North Carolina thing. We’ve both spent our lives between the two very special places and it’s shaped who we are as people and as songwriters. It’s the north/south dichotomy I guess. Whatever it is it’s hard to explain. All I know is that for one night in Los Angeles I was in the same room with him, listening to his stories, laughing at his sense of humour, getting to know him in a way I hadn’t expected and I felt as if in my mind I’d gone to Carolina. It was really amazing!
It was “Oscar Sunday” yesterday and just like a billion or so other people around the world I tuned in. Overall I thought it was one of the more entertaining shows they’ve produced in a long time. Ellen Degeneres did a fabulous job - she was funny, warm, and sweet. What they don’t show you onscreen is what it feels like to live here one Sunday a year.
I live about two miles from the Kodak Theatre, and less then a mile from two of the hottest post Oscar parties in town (Morton’s and Elton John’s). So around 1.30p yesterday we went on an urban hike and walked down to our favourite cheap sushi place, Sushi Mac ($2.75 a plate), down La Cienega Boulevard and into Beverly Hills.
As soon as we left my apartment you could feel it in the air. There is an energy and a vibe to the atmosphere that you don’t feel any other day of the year. It’s not just the parade of limo’s and town cars that whiz down the boulevards carrying who knows who, it’s a charged, hyper, hyped up sense of being. You can feel it walking down the street – you can feel in the grocery store. I think it’s because in one way or another nearly everyone is connected to The Industry either directly or through a friend. It’s all around you – your neighbours, your acquaintances, your car mechanic. Everyone knows someone here – it’s unavoidable and so there are a ton of parties, and a ton of people out and about. It’s a very cool feeling and when the time comes for me to leave L.A. – whenever that it – I will certainly miss my Oscar Sunday.
Now it’s back to the real world. Hmmmm….maybe I’ll go to Carolina.
Thanks for tuning in…Until next Monday…CHEERS!!!