Singer 67 has first hit: James Taylor

Published: June 28, 2015

Singer 67 has first hit: James Taylor, As his career nears 50 years, singer-songwriter James Taylor seems like he’s been around forever. His self-titled debut album was released in the 1960s, and it’s been 15 years since he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But over that time, Taylor has morphed several times over.

He has gone from a ragtag, road-worn folkie whose pure vocals gave voice to the disenfranchised on his early hits, “Carolina in My Mind” and “Fire and Rain,” to the gentle voice of the 1970s, who comforted us with the chart-topping “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You),” “Shower the People” and “Handy Man.”

Taylor eased us into middle age with a 1980 and ’90s comeback with the hits “Everyday” and “Copperline.” It was during this period that he recorded some of his best-selling and most-awarded work. Even the 2000s were kind to Taylor: His two discs in that decade both hit Top 5.

Now the singer has released “Before This World,” his first disc of original material in 13 years. Billboard announced Wednesday it will debut at the top of the Top 200 album chart. It is Taylor’s first No. 1 album.

“Taylor’s milestone is a win for aging musicians,” wrote Marianne Zumberge in Variety magazine. “His album debuted in the same frame as new releases from three young solo artists — Adam Lambert, Hilary Duff and Nate Ruess, who are all under the age of 35 — and left them all in the dust.”

Taylor kicks off a national tour to promote the disc with a concert Thursday July 2 at Allentown’s PPL Center.

The disc is no great departure for Taylor, who counts more than 20 gold and platinum albums among the 29 (including live discs and compilations) he has released, and 17 Top 10 songs on various charts. He also sang on three Top 10 songs by other artists.

In a recent interview with USA Today, he said he wrote, as he often does, about his father, about spirituality, about home and about the road.

The new disc shows Taylor’s songwriting and singing skills remain at age 67. He has entered yet another phase of his career — that of an elder spokesman who has not defied age, or even railed against it, but slipped rather easily and comfortably into it.

As he enters that new phase, here is a look at the James Taylors we have seen over the years.


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