Father-Son Harmony: The Taylor Legacy Continues with ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’

Everyone who’s a fan of James Taylor, raise your hands. I understand the enthusiasm from those eagerly saying “Me! Me! Me!” However, considering James Taylor’s esteemed status, it’s likely that many of our younger Music Man readers may not be familiar with him. My aim is to provide enough context to enhance your enjoyment of the videos. So, to the diehard fans, please be patient with the brief overview, and to the newcomers, please recognize that Taylor is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist held in high regard by fellow musicians.

Taylor’s accolades include being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, being named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France in 2012, and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the US, in 2015. He has won six Grammy Awards and was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year in 2006, an award presented by the Grammy organization. The array of artists who performed at his MusiCares tribute speaks volumes about Taylor’s influence. I’ll delve into that list shortly. First, take a look at this 2021 video featuring JT’s son Henry:

There’s something uniquely touching about family members making music together, especially when they possess genuine talent, as seen here. Notice the affectionate and proud exchanges between JT and Henry as they harmonize. US Citizen comments, “The indescribable magic when family sings together shines through in this performance. Absolutely affirming!” Enthusiast Huge-JT-fan remarks, “It’s news to me that his son is carving his own musical path.”

Sea Chi reflects, “‘And you can sing this song when I’m gone’… these words take on new depth at this point in our lives.” The song, “You Can Close Your Eyes,” stands out as one of Taylor’s most beloved and critically praised works, originating from his third album, “Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon,” released in 1971. It’s widely thought that Taylor wrote the song for his then-girlfriend Joni Mitchell. Now, let’s enjoy a moment from The Voice 2020, a brief respite during the pandemic era:

Moving on to the artists who covered Taylor’s songs at the 2006 MusicCares event, which was broadcast on television. The lineup included notable figures such as Bruce Springsteen, Carole King, Sting, Keith Urban, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, Alison Krauss, Jackson Browne, Sheryl Crow, David Crosby, India.Arie, The Chicks, Jerry Douglas, and Paul Simon—a truly eclectic and impressive roster.

During their virtual appearance on The Voice, showcased above, James and Henry Taylor gave a rendition of the classic “Moon River.” Reflecting on that period, Henry Taylor shares, “The pandemic lockdown in Montana turned into an extended music workshop. Dad passed down his musical wisdom, from songwriting techniques to guitar fingering and vocal exercises.”

With the reopening of venues in September 2021, Henry began touring as a backing vocalist with his father’s band. When asked about becoming a full-fledged band member, Henry expressed, “This band has been part of my life since birth. There’s a photo of Arnold (McCuller) holding me as a baby, and another with Kate (Markowitz) from around the same time, not to mention Jimmy Johnson. To me, they’re like family, always showing warmth and kindness. It’s daunting to work alongside such immensely talented individuals, especially as the ‘boss’s kid,’ but I’m thrilled to pursue my passion. I acknowledge the pressure but am hopeful the other musicians will continue to mentor me as they’ve graciously done.”

In addition, Taylor’s album “Before This World” topped the Billboard 200 in 2015, marking over 45 years since his first chart appearance. His 2020 album “American Standard” debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200, making Taylor the first artist to have #1 albums in the US across six consecutive decades. James Taylor is a father of four: Sally and Ben with Carly Simon, and twins Rufus and Henry with his third wife, Caroline ‘Kim’ Smedvig.

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