A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Welcome to our new series highlighting the music we have here at Thomas Ford Memorial Library. Each week of 2013 we will discuss one of our favorite songs from the collection. Classical or Country, Hip-Hop or Heavy Metal, we’ll be blogging for every taste.
“Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone…”
In 1968 when James Taylor returned to the United States after recording a debut album for Apple, he was depressed and addicted to heroin. Residing at the Austin Riggs Mental Institution in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, he wrote a group of songs that described his life up to that point, many of which were recorded for his Warner Brothers album Sweet Baby James. The key track was “Fire and Rain” which rose to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the album stayed on the album charts for two years.
Like many others in rural America, I first heard the song on a transistor radio tuned to a far away station late at night. I had no idea of what Taylor sang (cancer, suicide?), but I knew it was sad and moving. Little did I know that I’d still be hearing it over 40 years later. Taylor himself was surprised by its impact and in his early years of touring tired of his obligation to sing it at concerts. As he matured and finally broke his drug addiction, he discovered how important it was to his fans. He now sings it gladly.
Rolling Stone lists “Fire and Rain” as 227th in its 500 greatest songs of all time. National Public Radio included it in the NPR 100 celebrating most important songs of the 20th century. At Thomas Ford it can be found on the compact disc Sweet Baby James.
Review by Rick