Friday, January 24, 2014

James Taylor debut album!

Every time I think of James Taylor I always remember a chapter dedicated to him in the book Miss O’Dell. Just to catch you up: Miss O’Dell was written by Chris O’Dell who worked at Apple Records in the late 60’s. While Chris would move onto bigger and better things (such as tour manager for acts including CSNY and The Rolling Stones), at this time she was just getting her foot in the door of the music industry doing odd jobs at Apple office. One of these tasks was being asked to entertain a new recording artist for the label, James Taylor.

She had dinner with James and they ended up at her hotel room to hang out. James had brought his guitar and started working on some songs. He worked on these for so long in fact that Chris didn’t know how to get him to leave. She didn’t want to just kick him out as she was trying to impress everyone at Apple (where she had starting working five days prior) and it was her task to entertain James. Concerned that James may have been looking for romance, which she had no interest in; she put curlers in her hair trying to make herself as unattractive as possible. She dropped a few hints about being tired but he never caught on, and just continued playing his guitar. She even climbed under the blankets thinking this could be the ultimate hint, but he just said goodnight and stuck around. The next morning she woke up with James Taylor sleeping beside her in her bed. She was pretty creeped out by it, but knew she at least did her duties of entertaining.

This story cracks me up every time, just this random giant man and his guitar basically squatting in her hotel room. I guess part of it probably had to do with the fact that James was new to London and was going through a heroin withdrawal at the time (which isn’t funny of course), but overall a pretty humorous story.

At this time, James was preparing to record his self-titled debut album. This album is my personal favorite. Just prior to this, James had finished treatment for his heroin addiction in North Carolina. Looking to pursue a solo music career and get a fresh start, he decided to move to London, England. He passed around some demos and one made it to Apple Records’ head of Artists and Repertoire (A&R) Peter Asher, who in turn passed it onto Paul McCartney. Paul loved the music and signed James Taylor to Apple.

Two of Taylor’s bigger hits were on this album: Carolina in my Mind and Something in the Way She Moves. These were later found on his greatest hits album which most fans probably have in their collection; however, these songs were re-recorded for the greatest hits package because of licensing right issues with Apple. So, it’s great to hear these lesser known original versions. Plus, on the original recording of Carolina in My Mind, he had a few guest musicians from Apple: George Harrison and Paul McCartney.

Unfortunately, during the recording of this album James fell back into his drug habit. The album was not a big success, which probably had a lot to do with his time being devoted to drugs and treatment rather than promotion.  When Apple was taken over by the controversial management of Allen Klein, Peter Asher left taking James Taylor with him under a new management agreement. Therefore, this was the lone James Taylor album on Apple Records.

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