James Taylor and a Bit of Heaven

© Photo by Russ Peterson. All rights reserved.

My wife and I saw James Taylor Friday night, in concert with the Utah Symphony and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was a little bit of heaven for us. Here are some reasons why.

James Taylor’s second album, Sweet Baby James, was released in 1970, the year I turned 13. I remember listening to “Fire and Rain.” A lot. My good friend Tom had the album—yes, album, as in vinyl, as in record player—and we would listen to it in his cool basement. “Fire and Rain,” which Taylor sang beautifully on Friday night, was one of my coming-of-age songs, but 43 years later, I understand these words much better than I did then.

    Won’t you look down upon me Jesus?
    You’ve gotta help me take a stand.
    You just got to see me through another day.

Those words didn’t make me cry when I was 13 like they do now. Life will do that to you.

Taylor’s last hit single as a soloist, “Up on the Roof,” came out in 1979, the year we were married, and since then it has been a favorite of ours. (The Drifters took the same song to the top of the charts in 1963.) The song evokes memories of being on the road before and after we were married. We lived 70 miles apart while engaged and moved away to college a few days after our wedding in a brown Volkswagen Rabbit pulling the smallest U-Haul trailer you have ever seen.

The last time we saw James Taylor in concert was in 1986 when he came to the Marriott Center at BYU. We had been married 7 years and had two young daughters.

Just a week ago, Cristi and I started our adventure as “empty nesters.” We are coming to terms with our new life, but we have each other. It is a wonderful thing to be married to your best friend and soul-mate. We still like to go out on dates.

On our date Friday, Cristi leaned over to me and whispered, “I never expected to be at a James Taylor concert with President Monson!” Yes, President Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was there with his daughter, only a dozen or so rows ahead of us.

As you can see, James Taylor has helped me mark some milestones in my life. His songs have helped me engrave a few memories on my heart. Thank you, James, for coming to town and bringing a bit of heaven with you.

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