Fire and Rain

The December issue of American Songwriter has the same picture of James Taylor that was on his Sweet Baby James album over thirty years ago.

James Taylor is one of the most prolific, creative, and enduring singer-songwriters of his generation. I was in love with him in high school, and “Fire and Rain” has to this day, remained one of my top five favorite songs.

The interviewer makes this poignant statement:

“Fire and Rain” is such a direct, authentic statement from your soul.

And Taylor responds:

“It is sort of almost uncomfortably close. Almost confessional. The reason I could write a song like that at that point, and probably couldn’t now, is that I didn’t have any sense that anyone would hear it…[At the time I wrote this song] I was totally unknown…So I assumed [it] would never be heard….”

This song haunted me for years. It seemed so intimate. Truly, almost confessional. As if one were peering into Taylor’s soul. Yet he denies the song was a product of any pain or hurting on his part.

Taylor also is quoted as saying:

“To practice music at all is to give human consciousness the slip. That’s why its so associated with spirituality.”

In a few of my recent posts, I have made references to chants and sacred music and their ability and power to heal. Yet popular music also had the ability to transport us – and profoundly touch and affect us on many different levels.

I cannot imagine a world without music. I am reminded of my music theory teacher in college who introduced me to liturgical music and who once told my class the story that as a child, she had asked her mother if there was any music in heaven. Because if there wasn’t – she wasn’t sure she wanted to go.

As St. Ireneaus wrote in the second century, “the one who sings, prays twice.” Music is a gift from the Divine, and one of the ways in which God connects with us.


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