Sweet Baby James

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
— W. Somerset Maugham

I love music although I’m not always up to date. Sir Paul, in all his mutations? Absolutely.
Aerosmith? Yeppers. Love me some Steven Tyler….nothing is as interesting as a man who knows his classics.
James Taylor? Then and now. I’m not saying his lyrics are deep (I”VE seen fire and rain, too), but after much ado and painful practice, I managed to learn Sweet Baby James on the guitar and the piano. I’m not saying I’m good nor can I even say that I manage to keep up with anything resembling tempo and there is a lot of eye rolling, whilst I try to remember what come next. However both my guitar AND piano playing are at least in tune, which is more than I can say for my singing.
I have one of those photographic memories (the actual name of which escapes me…idetic? idiotic? but I can remember great lots of what I see and what I’ve heard),which is useful for remembering my best friends phone number from 55 years ago, routing numbers, whole pages of text in college, entire lectures and meetings at which I look as if I am not paying the least attention but can parrot back about 10 minutes of conversation (a useful trick, since most meetings could be handled by an email). I can also remember lyrics and the first bars of songs, including who is singing lead and where I was when I first heard it. I cannot however, sing on any key…or rather, I manage to sing in every key during the same song. It amusing me, however, to sing backup in my car, with the windows open.

My mother was a wonderful vocalist and musician. She just had to see an instrument played once to get the mechanics in her head and it was off to the races. She taught Marnie and I how to sing harmony (okay, it was baby harmony and I had a tendancy to either wobble or just follow whoever was louder). After Marnie’s death at five, my mother never sang again. All the music died that day. Even though she sent me to piano lessons for 16 years, she never took much pleasure in me playing (AND NEITHER DID I). Even now, I play only for myself. I don’t even play if someone else is in the house, which is a shame and a waste…or maybe I’m trying to save my family from aural assault.
So here are my two favorite versions of Sweet Baby James by James Taylor.

He’s weathered life pretty well and I guess if he can face his demons, so can I. I might play tonight….with people in the house.
Or I might figure out how to send a text message on my phone, if I can find it.


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