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James Taylor Woos and Wows the Faithful in Music City

by Rich and Laura Lynch

For many, the music of James Taylor has served as the soundtrack to their lives comprising a canon of classic folk rock songs that have carried them through the years. His music has helped mark momentous occasions such as weddings, funerals and memories both happy and sad through the half a century plus that he has released his acoustic heavy, meaningful and moving songs. In some ways seeing him in concert could almost be a religious experience for his faithful flock. And, like many have waited on the Lord in biblical times fans had to wait and wait again for this show to finally take place on Monday, August 16, 2021 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

It was a really big show when James Taylor finally played the Bridgestone Arena again in 2021.

"It's good to be back in Woo Town," Taylor remarked at the start of his headline set in Music City. That statement immediately enlisted a few Ric Flair woo style shouts from the crowd inside the arena where these are more commonly heard during games by the hometown Nashville Predators. But, "woo" also refers to the Bachelorette ladies who descend on Mid-Tenn to ride a variety of retrofitted buses, fire trucks and tractors up and down Broadway as they celebrate their last few days of single life. James said he spent a large part of his day off on Sunday watching this unique to Nashville activity that led to the "woo" theme to repeat a few times during the concert. But, he didn't have to work too hard to woo his fans into his corner on this night.

The concert opened with a recorded segment that showed his followers testifying how much Taylor's music has meant to them over time. An impressive and compelling selection of video clips portrayed adherents putting their own spin on his songs, recalling times they have met the man, and introducing them to children who they named after the musician. As his fiddle player provided the background music the curtain fell to reveal Taylor and his acoustic guitar in all their glory. Fans rose to greet him and the evening was off and rolling with a triumphant version of "Country Road".

Next up, James Taylor offered the little played "Never Die Young" as a way of addressing the pandemic that nearly killed the idea of this magical world tour that has seen him share the stage with rock legend Jackson Browne. Since returning to the road this pairing has performed so well together that an additional fourteen nights have just been added to the trek that is now scheduled to wrap up on December 13 in Buffalo, New York.

We've all had a great friend in James Taylor through the years.

As Taylor returned to the stage for the encore he stopped for a minute with his boy and background singer, Henry Taylor, arm in arm as they took a minute to soak in the lit up arena that was glowing courtesy of uplifted cell phones creating a similar effect that an army of lighters used to provide back in the day. It felt like a pass the torch moment with the father showing the son his kingdom that could be inherited some day down the line. To punctuate that idea the two then took a seat side by side as James described how they have been working on a song that they saved in order to make a special debut in Nashville. "You Can Close Your Eyes" was a spiritual and stirring track about paying homage to special persons when they are no longer here - by just closing your eyes and remembering the songs you sang together.

Before that, James saved the real fire for the last half dozen offerings of his main set when the true giants of his catalogue rained downed upon his transfixed fans like manna from music heaven. The night concluded as opener Jackson Browne returned for a spotlight take on his breakthrough hit "Take It Easy" that sounded just as good as ever performed by Taylor's aptly named "All Star" band. Then, "You've Got a Friend" was a friendly reminder of just how important live music is to this town and the world at large as it sent the sold-out audience home feeling renewed and revived - at least for the moment.

SETLIST: Country Road | Never Die Young | Copperline | That's Why I'm Here | Mexico | You Make It Easy | Line 'Em Up | (I've Got to) Stop Thinkin' 'Bout That | Easy as Rollin' Off a Log (Johnnie 'Scat' Davis cover) | Sweet Baby James | Fire and Rain | Carolina in My Mind | Shower the People | How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) | Encore | You Can Close Your Eyes (with Henry Taylor) | Shed a Little Light | Take It Easy (with Jackson Browne) | You've Got a Friend

Henry Taylor (far left) stepped out the shadows and into the spotlight in Nashville.

Related Links: For more information on JAMES TAYLOR and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - James Taylor | Jackson Browne at the Bridgestone Arena | Bridgestone Arena


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