James Taylor was born in Boston on March 12, 1948, making him 72 years young in 2020–and he’s still going strong! Indeed, coronavirus permitting, in April he’ll embark on a big tour headlining large Canadian and American arenas, with Bonnie Raitt as the support act on the first part of the tour, Jackson Browne on the second; what a great night of music! And he has just put out a fantastic new album of covers called American Standard that is dominated instrumentally on many tunes by his and John Pizzarelli’s shimmering acoustic guitars. His singing has never been better; the arrangements are tuneful, tasteful, yet still imaginative. Check it out!
For our birthday salute, though, here he is during his breakthrough year, 1970, performing “You Can Close Your Eyes,” a new song at the time which turned up on his smash hit 1971 album Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon. Like so many of his songs, this one has been covered by many artists, including Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Sheryl Crow, Sting, and others. It was also the B-side of JT’s lone Number 1 single, “You’ve Got a Friend” (which, of course was written by Carole King).
Oh, heck, it’s the guy’s birthday! Let’s tack on a new video he recently filmed for one of the songs on American Standard, “Teach Me Tonight,” a 1953 song (music by Gene De Paul, lyrics by Sammy Kahn) that has been covered by such disparate artists as Dinah Washington, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Al Jarreau, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Phoebe Snow, and literally dozens of others. Still, JT puts his distinctive stamp on it! — Blair Jackson