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James Taylor Reflects on Carolina Years Prior to Visit

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RALEIGH — Many of you will spendNew Year's Eve with James Taylorat the Entertainment and Sports Arena. WRAL's David Crabtree caught up with him in London where he played two shows at the Royal Albert Hall, both of which sold out in a matter of hours.

The early life of the world-famous troubador was shaped in Chapel Hill where, as a teenager, he learned to be creative.

"But the main thing is that there was empty time, that's the thing that when I remember back on it is so remarkable," Taylor says. "We basically sort of lived out in the country, on the outskirts of Chapel Hill, and there were just long stretches of time with nothing in them except the landscape. So there was time to sit down for two hours and just fool around on the guitar."

Taylor soon became known for his talents as a songwriter and performer. Those talents led him to London where he wrote part of his signature song, "Carolina In My Mind."

The arrangement sounded a bit different when he first recorded it for the Beatles' Apple Records in 1968.

"There's a bridge that talks about 'the holy host of others standing around me,' and at that time that was The Beatles," he says. "I was recording in the midst of their recording. I was taking what time they weren't recording in the studio. So I was constantly there, and actually George Harrison and Paul McCartney played on that track."

Since then, Taylor has worked with other famous writers, including his dear friend Duke English professor Dr. Reynolds Price. Their most famous composition is "Copperline."

"He'd play three chords and say two words, and I'd say three more words, and we literally sat there, and over a period of about an hour and a half worked out the rest of the song," Price says.

Now they both laugh over one of "Copperline"'s lines, an idea from Price's uncle: "branch water and tomato wine."

"He drank it, and when he got home he nearly died because something had gone wrong in the making of it, so all my life I've thought 'tomato wine.' The making of it was a pretty scary idea," Price says.

"I never heard of such a thing before," Taylor says. And he never tried it. Now, he says, it is too late, having not had a drink for 15 years.

Taylor's New Year's Eve concert will be the first time many in the state will have a chance to hear him perform since Governor Hunt's last inaugural celebration almost three years ago.