“When are people going to see that nothin’ ain’t never gonna change unless somebody finally makes up his mind to stand up and fight!”
Exactly. Singer-songwriter James Taylor spoke these words over two decades ago in the intro of the song “Stand & Fight,” an inspired wake-up call featured on his album, Dad Loves His Work. Though that message was originally linked to his late ’70s political endeavors, it especially resonates now during these final three weeks of the nation’s most important election ever. Helping to spread the message of “change” that especially relates to creating jobs and helping the economy recover, Taylor will be lending his voice to Barack Obama’s campaign by performing a series of free concerts on behalf of the democratic presidential nominee in North Carolina, the artist’s home for much of his youth. “I’ve always been proud of my North Carolina roots,” says Taylor.
“As this crucial election approaches I am honored to join the efforts of the Obama Campaign here in my beloved Tar Heel home. It thrills me that North Carolina has become a ‘battleground state’ and that we might lead the nation toward the change we so urgently need. With a victory here in November, we will embody the awakening of a new American spirit of engagement and responsibility. In North Carolina, we can own that change. To me, it comes as no surprise, because I hail from the state that chose to move boldly into the future with its commitment to education and modern technology. That forward-looking spirit has paid off for us in a big way. North Carolina for Obama. It’s a good fit.”
Taylor is scheduled to perform on Sunday, October 19th in Charlotte and Asheville, Monday, October 20th in Chapel Hill, and Tuesday, October 21st in Raleigh and Wilmington. Additional concert dates will be announced soon. (Check online, local newspapers, and TV and radio news outlets for times and details.)
Born in Boston, Massachusetts but raised in North Carolina’s Chapel Hill and Morgan Creek, James Taylor–son of Gertude and UNC-Chapel Hill medical school dean, Isaac Taylor–has become one of the latter state’s favorite sons. With an ongoing exhibit in Chapel Hill’s museum based on his achievements (i.e. the Hourglass Grammy™ for Album of the Year, his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame trophy, photographs, childhood mementos and a video documentary), JT has romanticized his southern upbringing and surroundings in various original songs. Siblings Livingston, Alex, Kate and Hugh also have contributed to North Carolina lore (such as in one of Livingston’s greatest recordings, “Carolina Day”), but the state was celebrated most famously and lovingly in “Carolina In My Mind” from James’ Apple Records debut, and in “Copperline” from his album, New Moon Shine. In this song, Taylor’s quick screen grabs of “copper kettles sittin’ side by each, copper coil, cup o’ Georgia peach” and “branch water and tomato wine, creosote and turpentine” capture a Southern lifestyle that he’s better than most at detailing. And in a 2000 interview, before he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, James told local newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, “What I remember most about Chapel Hill is the landscape. I tell my kids that we were pre-TV and there was a lot of empty time there, slow weekends when you just walked into the woods and found whatever you could to kill time. There was this long, uninterrupted time to let your imagination grow. I believe that was an important part of whatever creative life I’ve had.”
But beyond trophies, Grammys™, or Taylor Family bragging rights, North Carolina’s most prized gift from James might be this legendary artist’s influence on the presidential race’s outcome. No stranger to socially-conscious topics (evidenced in his brilliant “Millworker” and the pro-union “Brother Trucker”) or profound thinking (check out “The Secret Of Life” and “That Lonesome Road”), this politically-energized Taylor actually may contribute to tipping one of the reddest states, currently flirting with shades of blue, into Obama’s electoral column. It is especially inspiring that JT has committed himself to this mission considering that other, more activist singer-songwriters from the era–Bruce Springsteen always being the exception–largely have been silent. Well, those artists still have time to take a cue from James Taylor’s patriotism and get their act on the road while they still can make a difference. Then again, maybe all of us can. Borrowing another line from “Stand & Fight,” “You ain’t doing nobody no kind of favors, lying around like a rug on their floor. Sooner or later you’ve got to stand up and say you won’t take anymore.”