You need more James Taylor in your life

James Taylor has hundreds of songs. So many of them are unknown. That’s unfortunate. After decades of dedicated fandom and dozens of live concerts, I want to help by sharing some of my favorite James Taylor songs.

Most people are familiar with the Greatest Hits album. It’s a masterpiece of music with eleven quintessential JT tunes and the lovable black sheep of the white album, Steamroller. 

I will assume that some minimum requirement of art appreciation is already in place. So with the hope sharing of new discoveries, I’ll leave these greatest hits off of my list.

While most of my list is in no particular order, let’s get right to the song that rules them all.

You Can Close Your Eyes: my favorite James Taylor song for thirty years. Perfect example of his guitar style. Perfect range of singing. He ends every concert with this song. 

And now for the rest of the songs 

Each of these songs will have an Apple Music link. I also have these songs (and more) in my shared Simple James Taylor playlist. 

Sweet Potato Pie: a happy song from Never Die Young, his most underrated album. There are a lot of metaphors in this song. Like a sponge, I soak them all in. 

First of May: We all know that Justin Timberlake tells us when it’s gonna be May. But the original JT takes over on the first of that same month. My favorite “ha ha ha ha” in any song.

On the 4th of July: Let’s stick with songs about days of the month. Come for the mellow rhythm, but stay for the fantastic whistle solo to finish the song.

Like Everyone She Knows: One of my favorite acoustic song openings from him. 

If I Keep My Heart Out of Sight: No song says “I love you” like this song says it. 

Sweet Baby James: I know I wasn’t going to include any songs from the Greatest Hits album, but James says this is his best song. It was written for a nephew. And of course my daughter, appropriately named Jane Taylor, hears this song often.

Little More Time With You: This song (and the Hourglass album) just brings me right back to high school. On the morning of the album release, I walked out of class and drove straight to Best Buy. I purchased the album, carefully inserted the disc, and soaked it in for 54 minutes of new music. 

B.S.U.R: Like the classic book “CDB“, the chorus is all letters that sound similar to words in a sentence. Be as you are.

Home by Another Way: another great song from Never Die Young. There is some religious undertone in this song. Perhaps that is why this song was stuck in my head for two years while living in San Francisco. I’d hum this song each evening while heading home on bike/bus/walking/car/cable car/BART/etc. 

Another Grey Morning: From the classic “JT” album, this song brings the more relaxed side of his singing. His voice cracks in this song. I’m pretty sure that’s the only time that happens in his whole discography. 

Stop Thinking’ ‘Bout That: This is the song that fires up at his concerts when he wants to showcase the percussion talent on stage. I hear this song and I just picture the marching he does back and forth. 

Sun On The Moon: Speaking of marching, this song brings it out of him every time.

I Think It’s Gonna Work Out Fine: Technically this is a Linda Ronstadt song, but I think their voices go so well together.

Don’t Be Sad Cause Your Sun Is Down: Encouraging and uplifting. Also, the second best use of the word “everyday” in his songs. 

Blossom: Voice so smooth it sounds like he’s just talking on rhythm. I’ve always been drawn to artists who have a speaking and singing voice in the same range. 

Daddy’s All GoneGorillaNever Die YoungAin’t No Song.

I could go all day with these lesser appreciated songs. I suppose I’ll have to draw the line somewhere so let me finish with just one more that’s so good and yet so discouraging. 

Suite for 20 G: James had a studio rented for $20,000 and he had recorded all of the songs that he had ready. Since there was more time left, he decided to record parts of three other songs that he was working. This was the result. I love it, but I wish these were three complete songs…especially that first one. 

Hopefully you found some enjoyable music from this list. Hear them all, and more, on my Simple James Taylor playlist.