James Taylor Talks Beatles, Taylor Swift, Jimmy Kimmel & More at Grammy Museum

Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com
James Taylor performs at An Evening With James Taylor at the Grammy Museum on Sept. 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. 

Capping a whirlwind week in Los Angeles appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live! -- plus taping an episode of DirecTV’s Guitar Center Sessions -- James Taylor regaled a packed house Saturday night (Sept. 25) at the Grammy Museum.

The occasion: an intimate conversation and special performance for the popular An Evening With … series, benefiting the museum’s education program.

During a career-spanning interview, a humble Taylor touched on everything from his early career start and longtime friend/mentor, guitarist Danny Kortchmar, to drug addiction, the creative process and his own style of playing (“I don’t play up the neck. It’s not particularly fancy but it has served me quite well”). Then he and his longtime keyboardist Larry Goldings segued into a suite of classic tunes, including “Something in the Way She Moves,” Sweet Baby James,” “Line Em Up,” and, of course, “Fire and Rain.”

Among the memorable takeaways from inside the Clive Davis Theater:

On Before This World, his first No. 1 album and first with new material in 13 years:

It takes time to do an album but I was way overdue to cook up a new batch of songs. This is the 16th time I’ve gone into the studio with a group of my own songs. There’s no manual on how to do that, but I think it’s the best I’ve done. It was a long time coming but I’m happy with how it came out.

On overtaking Taylor Swift’s 1989 to claim the Billboard 200 crown:

I saw her at a benefit against teen pregnancy. It was delightful to meet her and hear the story about how she got her name.

On going out of character in funny skits with Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon:

There’s a tendency to take oneself too seriously. It’s good every once in a while to take a little air out.

On auditioning for Paul McCartney and George Harrison and later recording his first album for Apple Records:

I was clinically nervous auditioning for them [with “Something in the Way She Moves”]. Paul liked it so much that he signed me. And George liked it so much that he went home and wrote it himself [to audience laughter]. I still think that album [James Taylor] is half-baked. It’s hard for me to listen to those early takes.

On his own top five favorite songs:

Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Aretha Franklin’s “Until You Come Back to Me,” Beatles’ “Penny Lane,” and Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Suite Judy Blue Eyes.” But there’s also Buffalo Springfield’s “Bluebird” … I have a long, long list. Maybe I should publish it on my website.

On setting the course of his Grammy-winning career with second album Sweet Baby James:

You just hope that every once in a while, out of the songs that mean a lot to you, maybe one or two will mean a lot to others.





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