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James Taylor, Carole King: They've Got a Friend

Published: 2010-07-24
James Taylor The mutual admiration and respect between James Taylor and Carole King was abundantly apparent during my conversation with them Tuesday just a few hours before the final stop on their joint tour.

So after talking to them about how overwhelmingly popular the tour has been, for a question-answer session that appears in Sunday's Arts & Books section, I couldn't resist asking them whether, given all the accolades each has received over the decades for their music, if there's anything they felt the other hasn't gotten enough credit for. Here's what they told me:

Taylor: I think people don't really understand what a great show person she is. Certainly her body of work stands on its own, but she has just an unbelievable sense of putting these things across onstage. I've seen a lot of people on tour over 40 years, and she has such amazing energy and strength. At one point she was on stage with a 102 temperature. This was a bronchial cold that she had, and that's the hardest thing to work through. Then to step up to the plate and knock it out of the park, that takes a reserve of strength that kids today don't have. Twenty-year-old kids don't have that. So I think she's under-acknowledged as a touring rock maven.

King: Thank you, James, that means so much coming from you. There are two things about James that maybe people don't know as well as I do. One is James' generosity. He's the most generous of performers, which you do see onstage. But he also has an awareness of what every person in the audience is going to be hearing and seeing. I don't have that level of awareness... He always looks for ways to improve the experience for every single member of the audience. The other thing [is] the level of professionalism James puts into everything he does.... Every single step of the way, he brings his great knowledge to bear. And if he doesn't know something, he'll go out and find the person who does. That's a great pleasure for me. I revere excellence. I can be moved to tears at a product a person makes if it's been made with excellence. And I've just been blown away by James, and by everyone at every level on this tour, down to the truck drivers and the interns.


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