James Taylor, dreamy 1970s pop/folk icon, returned to Tanglewood last night with his all-star band (including my jazz-crush, Steve Gadd) for a wondrous July 4 of song and sentiment. Taylor is a fixture here in the Berkshires, and this performance marks the 27th since his first anxious and adorable appearance in 1974.
Love Forever and Ever
Highlights from the lush, leafy green of Tanglewood include Sweet Baby James, Your Smiling Face, deeply moving Carolina On My Mind, and his “4th of July” ballad with its enduring message of love:
Would you care to come down for fireworks time,
we could each just reach, we step out of line.
And the smell of the smoke and the lay of the land
and the feeling of finding one’s heart in one’s hand
and the tiny tin voice of the radio band singing ‘love must stand,’
love forever and ever must stand.
Wow, tears and more tears — surprise! I didn’t know I was such a fan. Hazy, humid memories cause a flood, doubtless the sixty-something equivalent of teenybopper screams. That silvery lullaby voice crooning melancholy, moving songs — it’s a magical evening.
And let’s face it, the guy is still a stone fox.
Taylor knows his audience and graces us with Angels of Fenway before we attempt to repay his tremendous gift with several thunderous ovations. As we drift back to our cars glowing inside and out, we’re showered by spectacular fireworks over Stockbridge Bowl.
A Bit of History
In 1934, a group of music-loving “summer people” arranged for members of the New York Philharmonic perform a few outdoor concerts here in the Berkshires. Soon after, Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra agreed to to perform, and gave their first concert at Tanglewood in August of 1936. And the rest is history.
Proceeds from tonight’s concert were donated by the Taylor family to Tanglewood, home of the brand new Tanglewood Learning Institute — check out their wonderful programs. James Taylor is a total mensch. •