Excerpts from some published favorites.
The passage of time has been kind to the original JT.
That’s James Taylor, FYI millennials, not Justin Timberlake.
Strumming an acoustic guitar and singing 24 songs alongside his self-proclaimed “best band in the known universe” on Tuesday night at the Save Mart Center, the richness of the singer-songwriter’s voice didn’t sound much different than it did in 1970, when one of his best-known hits, “Fire and Rain,” skyrocketed him to stardom.
The majority of the people who filled the arena to the top of the stairs were alive in 1970, and Taylor took notice. He teased fans before playing “Walking Man” early on, saying since the song is about autumn, he really should sing it in the fall, but that would be too late.
“We’ll be gone in the fall,” he said, met with booming laughter, “so we’re going to sing this sucker for you right now.”
But jokes aside, this is certainly not the end for Taylor. And if this is the fall of his life, it’s a lovely time when all the leaves are turning gold. The classics he sang, and a few new songs that he sprinkled in from a well-received album he released last year, “Before This World,” all sparkled with something that’s hard to put a finger on. It was a layer of emotional depth and contentment that I can only describe as peace.
Full disclosure: I really like James Taylor. I was at the concert not only as a reporter, but to celebrate my dad’s birthday on July 12. My family bought tickets for the show long before I was asked to review it. Growing up, James Taylor songs filled the house. More than any other artist, James Taylor songs make me think of my dad, family, home – comfort.
And that’s the appeal of James Taylor – he’s good at making people feel comfortable.
His show didn't just speak to children. My mother, Helen George, was so comforted by Rogers' daily presence in our home as a young mother that she wrote him a letter. She thanked him for helping her through a difficult time, the years immediately following my parents' move from San Luis Obispo to Fresno. She had just given birth to me and didn't have any family or friends in the area.
"He used to look directly into the camera," my mom said. "It felt like he was talking directly to me."
Rogers responded to my mom's note with a beautiful, one-page letter in April 1995.
"As I read your letter, I couldn't help but think that in spite of the difficult times you had when your first child was born, you evidently had a great deal of inner strength," Rogers wrote, "to be able to hear positive messages in what we offer and in the caring support you've had from others – and to be able to use those messages in such a healthy way."
He ended it by telling her she is a special person and "we will remember with pleasure that your family is a part of our Neighborhood ... and that we're a part of yours."
Like the film says, the Rogers people saw on television was the same Rogers off camera.