Joey’s Top 10s: James Taylor

James Taylor, came in at the number one spot on my Top 10 Acoustic Guitar Players list and I am very excited to be able to expand on him



One of the most soft-spoken but influential musicians, James Taylor


One of the most soft-spoken but influential musicians, James Taylor, came in at the number one spot on my Top 10 Acoustic Guitar Players list and I am very excited to be able to expand on him and his music more in this list. His folksy gentle style seems to cary a lot of his music which gives the songs a welcome and calming feeling to them across albums.

  1. “You’ve Got A Friend”

This is a pretty good introductory song to the rest of Taylor’s catalog, a very gentle and sweet song that pretty much defines the “easy listening” genre.

  1. “Carolina In My Mind”

“Carolina In My Mind” is self-explanatory as a song. Most of the lyrics of the song describe that Taylor is thinking about his childhood and/or going to Carolina. 

  1. “Never Die Young”

Starting out with a great guitar riff, “Never Die Young” tells the story of how fast childhood goes and how people are often in a rush to grow up, but in reality, staying young is pretty nice. There is also a pretty rare guitar solo in this song. Taylor rarely features electric guitar, especially in a solo capacity. 

  1. “Our Town”

Yes, this song comes from the “Cars” soundtrack, but it is too good of a song to not make an appearance on the list. “Our Town” really pulls on the ol’ heartstrings, but in a way that is almost peaceful. It is a very nostalgic song that was clearly intentional by Taylor and might have been influenced by his childhood memories. 

  1. “You Can Close Your Eyes”

This is a really amazing song, the studio version is great but the duet with Carly Simon is the definitive version of this song. Both Taylor and Simon have very similar musical styles, and the way they look at each other in the video is lovely. The video is also a great lens into Taylor’s guitar style, watching his left hand play the guitar is a masterclass on folk playing.  

  1. “Shower The People”

While “Shower The People” is on the first of Taylor’s greatest hits album, I do not think that the song is as appreciated as it should be. Like most of his songs, “Shower The People” tells a sentimental, heartful love story. This song seems to be about friend/family love in addition to romantic love rather than leaning to one side or another. 

  1. “Sweet Baby James”

I used to be particularly confused by the title of this song; is he calling himself “Sweet baby James?” But I saw him in concert and he gave some context to the song, one of his siblings had a son and they named him James (after James Taylor), which makes the song really sweet and much less weird and self-indulgent.

  1. “Moon River”

This is a cover of the jazz standard, something about Taylor’s voice lends itself perfectly to the story that “Moon River” is telling. Taylor is an expert guitar player, especially when it comes to the folksy fingerpicking style, and it works very well for this song.

  1. “Fire and Rain”

“Fire and Rain” is one of the most well-known folk songs of all time.

Taylor tells a pretty sad story throughout the three verses and chorus of the song. The first verse is about a friend’s death, the second about general life troubles and the third is about his first band falling apart and the impact it had on him. I think some of the best songs are ones that have real messages and don’t beat around the bush when it comes to storytelling, and “Fire and Rain” definitely does not pull any punches. 

  1. “Copperline”

“Copperline” is one of my mom’s and my favorite songs; the guitar intro is almost angelic in tone and Taylor is telling a story and reminiscing about his childhood. I really like how Taylor was almost meant to be old, all of his songs are about his childhood. Hearing a young James Taylor sing about his childhood doesn’t feel the same as seeing him now and watching him smile while thinking about growing up in North Carolina.