ISSUE DATE: Mar. 1, 1971
The decompression of rock can be traced back to 1968 and Bob Dylan’s search for a simple way of saying simple things in John Wesley Harding. Among the groups, the gentling process was carried to mellow new highs and lows by The Band. The rise of rock’s new solo poets is a natural extension. Often they are talented offshoots from famous groups, the most notable examples being all four Beatles. Characteristically, they make the new sound but leave explanations to musicologists and sociologists. Occasionally, however, one will fall prey to the seductions of historic hindsight. “The dream is over,” John Lennon has lately observed. “I’m not just talking about the Beatles, I’m talking about the generation thing. It’s over, and we gotta—I have personally gotta—get down to so-called reality.”
Whether or not the dream is over for good, the man who best sums up the new sound of rock—as well as being its most radiantly successful practitioner—is a brooding, sensitive 22-year-old rich man’s son who sings, he says, “because I don’t know how to talk.” James Taylor’s first album came out only two years ago on the prestigious Apple label. It sold only 30,000 copies its first year. Today Taylor is one of the best and steadiest national record sellers since the loudest days of Beatlemania. Sweet Baby James, his second album, has already sold 1,600,000 copies and, along with his hit single “Fire and Rain,” has been nominated for five Grammy Awards. A third album, Mud Slide Slim, will be released next month. Last month, Taylor was included in the predominantly classical Great Performers series at New York City’s Lincoln Center. He has just finished a movie, Two-Lane Blacktop, for late spring release, and last week he began a sell-out national concert tour of 27 cities.
Read the full story here
Next John Wayne