The legendary singer and song-writer, James Taylor, has been unfairly ridiculed for an honest mistake. The 65 year old, Boston native was chosen as this year’s crooner of the national anthem at The World Series. He was also slated to sing America the Beautiful later in the evening. With two sets of similar lyrics swirling in his head, James seemed slightly confused. He started The Star Spangled Banner with the first few words from America the Beautiful, but quickly realized his mistake. The rest of the performance was done to perfection. Taylor is a natural with turning songs into medleys as he transitioned into the correct song. James Taylor’s anthem goof was called foul by the media, but his own talent saw him through.
Compared to past singers that have accepted the honor of singing the national anthem at Super Bowls, NASCAR events and other functions, James is in the minor league of flubs. He came through with flying colors which has been a pattern throughout his own personal life.
Born in Boston, the second of five children, James picked up the guitar at age twelve. Later in his teens, he suffered from depression and was in and out of psychiatric institutions for many years. His creative spirit blossomed through his own experiences, but sadly he turned to drugs despite his growing recognition. The connection of living in the real world was a challenge he eventually overcame as he continued to write songs and perform.
James became good friends with The Beatles and many other up and coming artists. His union with Carly Simon produced a marriage and two children. All the while, James was struggling within with the constant nagging of his drug addiction. He knew enough to seek help and finally was clean by the early 80s.
Unfortunately, James and Carly divorced, leaving James to fend for himself in the world of music. He married again and again leaving us with one of his best hits Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight. Each of his grammy award winning songs was based on his tumultuous life others could relate to. His easy going style was pleasant to listen to and soothing to many in the same arena of experiences.
Losing dear friends such as John Belushi and Dennis Wilson played into the life and mind of James’ lyrics. He lived right next door when he heard the shots that killed his friend John Lennon. His personal struggles only made him a better artist and one the world understood. Being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 was one of James’ greatest recognitions, but he has many to be proud about with honorary degrees and awards of all kinds.
Back in the day when James had a full head of hair, he was a hot commodity. He performed all over the world and delighted his audiences with his down to earth lyrics and music. He kept ties with fellow artists such as Carole King, the writer of his hit You’ve Got a Friend. The handsome, likeable guy has fought his own personal battles and deserves some grace with the so-called mishap in singing the national anthem.
Singing the national anthem has been difficult for many over the years, with the vocal range, change of keys and lyrics. Too many others to mention have flubbed it up much more than the slight glitch James is blamed for. The talented man is getting older, but is still endearing enough to rise above the critics. They may have called foul on James’ rendition of the anthem, but he recovered without flaw. Amid the Fire and Rain, Taylor will remain our Sweet Baby James.
Written by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon