James Taylor: One Man Band

A few nights ago I was watching PBS again (no surprise by now I expect) and I caught another interesting concert event: James Taylor: One Man Band. The show was songs taken from the CD/DVD set of the same name that was released just last year. Now, I'm not a huge James Taylor fan compared to some, but I do appreciate his music and thing many of his songs and many of he early albums are complete classics. I've seen James Taylor live before, but this particular event really caught my eye because it is just Taylor on stage with his guitar(s) and keyboardist/pianist Larry Goldings. When it comes to folk or singer/songwriter artist, aka James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Neil Young etc, I always thought the best way to see them would be when they were alone on stage where their personality and the character of the songs can truly shine through. For Taylor, this concert seemed to be just that kind of concert, with great results.

Here's the track listing from the album and DVD:

Something In the Way She Moves
Never Die Young
The Frozen Man
Mean Old Man
School Song
Country Road
Slap Leather
My Traveling Star
You've Got A Friend
Steamroller Blues
Secret O' Life
Line 'Em Up
Chili Dog
Shower the People
Sweet Baby James
Carolina In My Mind
Fire and Rain
You Can Close Your Eyes

Of course you see a number of Taylor classics as expected, but also a number of unexpected tracks, which is nice to see. I don't know about the DVD track listing as the PBS version was edited of a few songs, but I expect it's the entire concert. I don't own this CD/DVD set, but I'm considering adding it to my collection because it was such a compelling performance from what I saw.

There have been other James Taylor live albums, but I think this one will stand on it's own. These songs already have such a homey and special quality to them, but it seems to be pushed even further when in such a minimal setting. I definitely think this is the way to see an artist like James Taylor. It's not that fun band versions are worse, but the this is songwriting stripped down to it's essence and when combined with Taylor's unique personality and stage presence, it's as if something truly magical happens. Not too many people can pull off such a minimal event, but Taylor's personality and charisma really comes through. He also shares pictures, movies and stories throughout the show which really adds so much authenticity and intimacy to the music. Songs like "Sweet Baby James" and "Carolina In My Mind are pretty powerful on it's own, but when it's played almost solo by the original performer right after he shares what inspired it and what was taking place in his life at the time, it takes on so much more. This is easily one of the most intimate and personal shows I've seen in a long time. It's a feel that fits so perfectly with Taylor's songs making for quite a unique concert event that I'm glad was captured on DVD and CD, and even more glad was at least partially shown on PBS.

Even though I didn't get to see the entire show, I highly recommend that you see this concert. It's just a combination or setting, stories, personality and songwriting that really works well together. If you're a James Taylor fan, keep an eye out on your local PBS station as I'm sure they'll be showing this again.

Better yet, go ahead and pick up the CD/DVD set and see the whole concert. You can find it directly at Amazon here: One Man Band [CD + DVD]


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