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Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Story

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Many musicians sing about heartache, despair, and confusion, but few have experienced those feelings more intensely than James Taylor, who rose from a childhood of privilege as the son of an affluent medical school dean to become a modern-day troubadour and pop superstar.

When he was seventeen years old, his demons led him to a Massachusetts mental institution where he confronted them the only way he knew how, by writing his first songs. ...
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Overview

Many musicians sing about heartache, despair, and confusion, but few have experienced those feelings more intensely than James Taylor, who rose from a childhood of privilege as the son of an affluent medical school dean to become a modern-day troubadour and pop superstar.

When he was seventeen years old, his demons led him to a Massachusetts mental institution where he confronted them the only way he knew how, by writing his first songs. Thirty years later, Taylor's songs are among the most popular in the annals of music, but the demons are still with him.

But unlike many of his contemporaries who faced a similar struggle, Taylor managed to emerge as an inspirational figure. Fire and Rain traces this remarkable path, including his troubled marriage to pop star Carly Simon and the premature alcoholism-related death of his brother: Taylor's ten-month stay in the exclusive private psychiatric institution where he finished high school; His self-imposed exile to England where he submitted some of his music to the Beatles' Apple Records, which signed him to his first record contract in 1968. Paul McCartney mentored Taylor's early career; The story behind his second album, Sweet Baby James, which contained the song "Fire and Rain" about the hopelessness of mental illness and suicide; As Taylor's fame increased, so did his problems with heroin, alcohol, and mental illness. In the seventies, the singer nearly fell over the edge many times.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The turbulent life, loves, and career of pop star James Taylor. With such classic hits as "You've Got a Friend," "Carolina on my Mind," "Handyman," "Mexico," and "Fire and Rain," the venerable Taylor has been one of popular music's biggest stars since the late '60s, when he went to England to begin his recording career. As Halperin shows repeatedly, Taylor, who battled an addiction to heroin and other drugs for years, has not had an easy time of it. His story, however, hardly starts out as the saga of a tortured artist. He was born to Isaac and Trudy Taylor, a happy, loving couple who lived in an upper-middle-class region of Massachusetts, waiting to occupy a great deal of the biographer's time. Halperin contends that the younger Taylor's self-destructive habits were inherited by the men in his family (James's older brother, Alex, also suffered from a heroin addiction, which eventually killed him). Halperin, glossing over James's normal teenage angst and his isolation from other young people, also makes a case, a much stronger one, that James began his descent into addiction when Isaac began to withdraw from his family. Whatever their cause, James's feelings of alienation would lead him into a mental hospital during his late teens. Even after Taylor's first taste of success, with 1970's Sweet Baby James, which landed him on the cover of Time in 1971, he would slip back into battles with drugs and alcohol. According to Halperin, those consistent transgressions into his old ways, together with their mutual jealousies, eventually destroyed his marriage to fellow pop star Carly Simon. Despite the amount of time Halperin spends on Taylor's considerable difficulties, the affection he hasfor Taylor's music, best exhibited by the interviews with fans that are scattered throughout the book, shines throughout.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559725330
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 10/1/2000
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.11 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2001

    Fascinating Story

    I read this book with great curiosity. And I wasn't dissappointed. James Taylor is truly one of my favorite artists. The author here reflects accurately and tastefully on his outstanding career. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2001

    One of the best music bios in years

    Whether or not you like JT, read this book. There's so much here to be learned about the music industry. Great stuff about his ex wife Carly Simon and his longtime mentor Paul McCartney. A must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2001

    Exceptional Effort

    Bought the book on a Sunday and finished the following Monday, Detail and information brings out a story that few knew of before A+++++

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2001

    Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Story

    Compelling, heartwarming, and incredible detail about the music industry. I strongly recommend this book to anyone intrested in or connected to the music industry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2001

    What a let down!

    I was very disapointed in this book. The author seemed to rely on very vauge sources for his writing (very little if any from James himself) and the content was weak. As a diehard Taylor fan I would not recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2001

    One of the all-time great music bios

    Whether or not you are a fan of James Taylor, this book is a must for all music fans. Well-written and researched, there's a lot to learn here about the music industry. I have followed Taylor's career for more than 20 years and I can only thank the author for providing such a candid effort about one of my all-time favorite singers. Taylor was recently inducted into the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame. It's clear from reading Fire and Rain why he continues to make such good music, many years after many of his colleagues careers have faded. I literally could not put this book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2001

    Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Story

    I literally could not put this book down. I read it from cover to cover in two straight days. It is very well-written and balanced. The info about the early parts of his career is most valuable. A great book about my favorite singer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2000

    A distant view into the life of James Taylor

    There is no doubt that time will place James Taylor into a class of poetic artists on the same place as other classics such as James Joyce, and William Wordsworth. Having been a lifelong fan of James Taylor, and forged my own musical career from a point tracing back to my first introduction to the song, 'Fire and Rain,' I have always sought more knowledge about the life of JT. Due to the respectful privacy in which JT lives his life, I am sure that author, Ian Halperin had to piece this book together from the few shreds of info on JT found here and there. Much of the book I did find enlightening and enjoyed having a little insight into the life of a musical genius of the utmost sincerity. The factual side of this book I very much enjoyed. There was one area that sorely stuck out in offense to the subject and could not have been based on any known fact, leaving it totally unnecessary in it's reference to masturbation. This statement, lowered the stature of quality in reference to the book in my eyes. For the apparent admonishment seemed to reflect a tabloid mentality of the author, or maybe just inexperience of the authur. There were also, many typographical errors reflecting a poor editing job of the transcript. I guess, all in all, I welcome any source of additional information on an artist whom has impacted our musical culture and personal lives so deeply. Therefore, I applaud Ian Halperin's efforts to provide us insight into the life and times of JT. Considering, how little direct information was probably available, Halperin probably did the best he could in his quest. I enjoyed the factual information. I very much enjoyed the insight which Halperin provided us into the life of Carly Simon, in her commitment to her family and her continual struggles, personal strength and character in her efforts to keep her family together and rescue her husband from his demons of the time. Carly Simon showed character above and beyond that which would have been expected from an entertainer of such notoriety and stature. I was left with great appreciation and respect for Carly Simon. I hope that someday, James Taylor will provide us his own story, in his own words. I believe this is the book we ultimately seek. James Taylor is an inspiration to all whom seem to come in contact with him. My most memorable moment, other than the birth of my children, was when I had the opportunity to reach up and shake James Taylor's hand during a concert in Hampton, VA. James Taylor is a legend of unmeasurable stature. I believe this stems from the man himself, whom is revealed in his songs. James Taylor is the inspiration, his songs simply serve as the sermons of his life, endearing us with each new chapter of his life.

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