Making the Grades
Carole King was an established young songwriter when she met James Taylor at the West Hollywood’s Troubadour in 1970. Taylor had just completed an album on the Beatle’s Apple label. When the duo returned to play at the club a year later, Taylor was at the top of the charts with his defining hit Fire and Rain. And King had just released Tapestry, the album that would become one of the biggest in rock history. Yet, for all their individual talent, put together their music is a perfect fit. Fortunately in 2007, the pair came back to the same little nightspot where it all began to perform the great list of hits that have become both artists’ legacy.
Bringing the tremendous reunion to the home video market, this DVD/CD release captures the two friends playing guitar (Taylor) and piano (King), accompanied during some cuts by members of their original band The Section (guitarist Danny Kortchmar, bassist Leland Sklar and drummer Russell Kunkel). The intimate setting is perfect for the many personal melodies, including So Far Away, Carolina In My Mind, Something In The Way She Moves, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Fire and Rain and Sweet Baby James. There are a couple of tunes that play with a bit more punch like Smackwater Jack, Machine Gun Kelly and a very energetic rendition of King’s classic I Feel The Earth Move.
The Carole King and James Taylor Live At The Troubadour concert sells in a two-disc package, including the performance on CD and DVD, along with a 20-page booklet. Obviously, the DVD offers the visual delight of seeing the artists. The disc also provides a 2-channel Dolby Digital option or you can select a 5.1 channel DTS track that truly leaves you imagining you are sitting just a few feet back from the stage. Thankfully, other than a bit too much handheld camera work, the video production is direct and simple—just like the music.
Family-wise, this is a chance for parents to share with their children the experience of hearing these two musical mavens. Only one very mild profanity in a song lyric is heard, and a couple of tunes (Machine Gun Kelly and Smackwater Jack) speak of criminals, kidnapping and a hanging. Compared to most of what you might hear on a current hits radio station today, this is truly benign stuff. Instead, it may be an ear-opener for young listeners who can’t imagine a time when songs were packed full of emotion, including anger, heartache and pain, and yet were devoid of profanities, racism and sexual remarks.
The evening culminates in a wonderful encore featuring two timeless hits King authored and Taylor made famous. Up On The Roof and You’ve Got A Friend create the moment that defines what these two are all about. And even with Taylor remarking that he had no idea he would be performing You’ve Got A Friend for the rest of his life, he and King sing their way through the lyrics with an emotion and freshness that feels like it’s their first time together.
At the risk of sounding just like my parents a few decades ago when they were shaking their heads at my choices, they really don’t make music like this anymore.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Carole King and James Taylor Live At The Troubadour.
Carole King and James Taylor began their careers over three decades ago. Which of today’s popular artists do you think you will still be listening to 30 years from now? Why do we become sentimentally attached to music? During what period of our lives do you think music has the most influence and creates the strongest memories?