Sunday, March 1, 2015

James Taylor Tonight in Munich

I'm going to see James Taylor tonight in Munich. James is one of those singer/songwriters who have accompanied me through life. I've actually had a conversation with him:

"More water, sir?"

"Yes, please."

It was a wonderful conversation, full of pathos, mutual understanding and the clear expression of needs--which is so important in a relationship. I was there for him when he needed me. You might even say he had a friend.

James is also inextricably bound to a road trip I took with two very close friends in 1983 or '84. We'd planned to drive from Nashville to Clearwater, Florida and stay a week. It was probably spring break. We were in my Toyota Starlet, all three sitting sort of in the front because no one wanted to sit in the back. It was our commonly held opinion that the Road Trip was all about community and non-stop singing. The backseat didn't really have a place in this paradigm. That's how the stick shift became front seat number three.

Our one-week trip to Clearwater was not meant to happen though. A couple of days before we left, I got a singing job that required me to show up for rehearsals three days later. We decided to drive to Clearwater anyway, lie on the beach for one day and travel back to Nashville the next. Eighteen hours there, eighteen back.

And we played James Taylor's Greatest Hits for all 36 hours. Or at least I imagine that we did so. I'm sure there were interludes from other artists, but James was the headliner. "Fire and Rain," "Shower the People," "Carolina in My Mind"--we sang them all, over and over and over in three-part harmony. It is well known among my singing friends that I have to sing the highest part. 

And then one of my friends fell down on a grease spot. At a gas station. He wanted to brush his teeth, so he'd loaded his brush and was on his way to the gas station restroom. As he passed in front of the car, he slipped and fell. And this is how the following refrain became history:

When you fall down on a grease spot
And you've got toothpaste in your hair
And nothing, oh nothing is going right

Close your eyes and think of us
And soon we will be there
To laugh, laugh-haugh-haugh
In your face

You get the idea. It was funny then, and we still chuckle about it now though our friend never quite found it as funny as we did. Nevertheless, it is a song in my life's soundtrack. One of the Dixie Chicks once said that James Taylor was basically the soundtrack to her life. Well put.

I love James Taylor . . . and I also love The Dixie Chicks. The Chicks have so much to say about the importance of James Taylor. I couldn't agree more, and there's no way I could say it better.

I must be off (to see if James remembers me from the restaurant 23 years ago)--
But just one more thing. Shower the people you love with love,


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Indiana Review, Night Train, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly: the Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, [PANK] blog, Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, Bootsnall Travel, Chicken Soup for the Soul and lots of other good places. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.