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James Taylor – Sweet Baby James (1970)

May 3, 2017

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Exemplary logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

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[Album 535/1001]

Addition by Subtraction.

Seems illogical, but occasionally works wonderfully.

As it does with James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James.

In his case, the fewer the instruments that appear on a given track, the more I enjoy the track:

Sweet Baby James

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For example, the closing track, Suite for 20G, feels like it might have 20 guys & gals playing on it.

To his credit, Taylor helps keep things organized by name-checking some of the instruments as they appear, “wanna hear a saxophone…slide me a bass trombone.”James_Taylor_-_Sweet_Baby_James

Fine performances all-around they may be, it’s just not what I signed up for when I popped in my 8-track cartridge.

Instead, if I’m listening to James Taylor, I’d prefer to listen to James Taylor.

Which, apart from a probable overdubbed guitar in the intro/outro (the liner notes on my 8-track aren’t terribly detailed), is exactly what you get with his version of Oh, Susanna.

His gentle vocal delivery pairs really nicely with some intricate picking & chording.

Much as I love the banjo, given the familiar chorus lyric, bonus marks really ought to be awarded for playing Oh, Susanna exclusively on an acoustic guitar!

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Verbalize the Positive

There’s a line in the movie, As Good As it Gets, where Jack Nicholson’s character offers Helen Hunt’s character the compliment, “You make me want to be a better man.”

Admittedly, I haven’t seen the film (I remember the line from the trailers); nor have I listened to much James Taylor beyond this album.

But when I hear a solo guitar performance like Taylor’s rendition of Oh, Susanna, I’m left with a similar feeling: tracks like this one make me want to be a better guitarist.

So cheers for that James Taylor!

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From → 1970s

20 Comments
  1. So what did you play your 8-track cartridge on?

    • A working 8-track player that my dad no longer needed – I was delighted to give it a new home!

      • Oh, Yeah! Have you started seeking out cartridges? Are they easy to come by in your neck of the woods?

      • I have!
        I’ve found a couple shops that have them from time to time – and our mutual friend Aaron has generously shipped me a few as well!

  2. That 8-track has seen better days!!

  3. Not an artist I’ve spent too much time pursuing, but many say he’s good. Anything that makes you want to be a better guitarist is a winner. I like that you had this on 8-track. Also, see As Good As It Gets. Jack’s sooooo good in that.

  4. I’ve never knowingly heard a note of James Taylor. Am I worse off for it d’ya think?

    • I liked it, I don’t know if it’s life-changing, so you’ll probably be able to continue existing without knowingly hearing any more notes – you’ve somehow persevered so far!

      • I always feared it might be a bit saccharine, but that’s totally without ever hearing it.

      • I gather the rest of the catalogue can be – also without ever hearing it though!

  5. Another fantastic 8 track find!

  6. oh dear, another record I’m fearing. Maybe I can borrow your 8 track copy, however I haven’t got a machine to play it on….RESULT!!!

  7. I’m a big fan of this album, Geoff… and particularly Suite for 20G (!!). It was very much a right time album for me, but I would also recommend his first album and Mud Slide Slim, but beyond that I tend to think it’s all a bit bland.

    • Haha, perhaps if I’d been expecting the big 20G sound, I might have been more receptive to it!
      Thanks J!

  8. I bought a Hits set of Taylor today because of you. 😉

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