James Taylor is an American folk rock singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is known best for his famous songs “Fire and Rain,” “Something in the Way She Moves,” “Carolina in My Mind,” and his recording of “You’ve Got a Friend.” After Taylor came out with his breakout song “Fire and Rain” in 1970, he became and has remained one of the most recognized and well-liked artists in the industry. Taylor has battled with depression and drug abuse throughout his lifetime. Taylor Swift is an American country turned pop singer-songwriter, known for her narrative songs describing personal experiences. She is one of the best-selling artists of all time and the youngest person to make it on Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” list. She is a megastar in the music industry, owns four Guinness World Records, and is the first artist since The Beatles to stay six or more weeks at #1 with three consecutive studio albums.
“I believe musicians have a duty, a responsibility to reach out, to share your love or pain with others.” -James Taylor
“I hope you know that who you are is who you choose to be, and that whispers behind your back don’t define you. You are the only one who gets to decide what you will be remembered for.” -Taylor Swift
Here are a few similarities:
Turns out, Taylor Swift was named after James Taylor. Swift’s parents were fans of James Taylor and Swift’s mother thought giving their daughter a gender neutral name would help her make a business career for herself. Swift’s parents introduced her to James Taylor’s music at a young age and he turned into one of Swift’s largest role models.
Swift and Taylor both got their start in the music business at a young age. In fact, they both noticed their talent and enjoyment of music at age 14. James Taylor wrote his first song on guitar at age 14 and started a band with his friend Danny Kortchmar who immediately recognized Taylor’s talent. When Swift was 12, she learned how to play three chords on a guitar and wrote her first song, “Lucky You.” As an eighth grader, Swift made a artist development deal and traveled to Nashville multiple times. When Swift was 14, her family moved to Nashville to help her pursue her dreams of being a country music star.
These talented people moved from their hometowns as teens to pursue a music career. James Taylor checked into McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts during his senior year of high school for his depression. Taylor was grateful for the time he spent there making strides towards being mentally healthy. Taylor finished out his schooling in the hospital and after graduating at age 18, he checked out of McLean and headed to New York City. His friend Kortchmar convinced him it was the place to form a band. They called themselves The Flying Machine and they only lasted a year before the band broke up and Taylor went solo. At age 14, Swift moved to Nashville, Tennessee to get serious about making it in the music business. Her parents were huge supporters. Swift says of her parents, “They knew nothing about the industry and had no involvement in entertainment, but I was obsessed with it and so they did their research and read up about it to help me in every way they could. They’re amazing people.” Her big move from her home in Pennsylvania to Tennessee paid off and Swift got signed to a record deal that same year.
Speaking of record deals, James Taylor and Taylor Swift both completed firsts when signing at their record companies. James Taylor, at age 19, was connected to Peter Asher, the head of The Beatles’ new record label, Apple Records. Asher showed Paul McCartney some of Taylor’s music and McCartney immediately noticed his greatness. Taylor became the first non-British act signed to Apple Records. Taylor Swift, at age 14, was signed to Sony/ATV Tree publishing house. Swift was the youngest songwriter ever signed by the company. However, Swift left the Sony/ATV Tree at age 15, unhappy with the company wanting her to only record other artist’s songs until she was 18 and would be ready to release her own album. Swift felt she was already ready to do so and a year later she signed with the new independent record label, Big Machine Records. Swift was one of the very first artists to be signed with the company. At age 16, she immediately started writing her debut album, Taylor Swift, released a year later.
These musicians might have very different styles and audiences, as well as a large age difference, but they both fought for the #1 Billboard spot in 2015. James Taylor’s Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, his 1971 album, reached No. 2 in the album charts and was his most popular album. That’s until 2015, when he released Before This World at and it skyrocketed to the top. Before This World replaced Swift’s 1989 at the #1 Billboard spot.
Talent is something neither of these artists lack. They each lay claim many grammy awards. James Taylor is a five-time Grammy winner, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 200, and was named Person of the Year by Grammy Award-sponsored MusiCares. Taylor Swift is a seven-time Grammy winner, was honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010, and is the only woman ever named twice for Billboard’s Woman of the Year.
Taylor Swift listened to James Taylor growing up admiring his music greatly and he quickly became one of her idols. With Swift’s rise in fame, she reached out to Taylor to perform with her. James Taylor and Taylor Swift have performed together on two separate occasions, once in 2011 during Swift’s Speak Now World Tour and once in 2012 when Swift appeared as Taylor’s special guest during a concert at Tanglewood. James Taylor said of Swift, “She and I worked together, and we just hit it off. I loved her songs, and her presence on stage was so great. She told me that her mom had me in mind when she named her Taylor. When she called and asked if I would join her at the end of the last tour to celebrate the end of a successful tour on her part, I jumped in.”
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By Molly Mae Force, Cool Girls Reporter. Connect with me on LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/in/mollymaeforce