“I’m ready when you are, James.”
“… I know.”
Something extremely sweet was going on between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell when they played together at London’s Paris Theatre in 1970. You can hear it in these recordings, taped by the BBC and broadcast as one of John Peel’s Sunday Shows.
Mm, just listen to Sweet Baby James’ “magic fingers boogie up and down those golden frets.” Is it any wonder he became the subject of so many songs, two of them Joni’s?
(For the record, here are critic David B. Wilson‘s Top 5 Songs About James Taylor:
- Joni Mitchell, “See You Sometime”
- Carly Simon, “We Have No Secrets”
- Joni Mitchell, “Just Like This Train”
- Carly Simon, “Jesse”
- James Taylor, “That’s Why I’m Here”)
According to Joni’s own website, James’ “You Can Close Your Eyes,” above, is about her. (That would explain the little giggle at the top.)
The general public had to wait another year to hear “See You Sometime,” David Wilson’s pick for the number one song about James Taylor, but Joni must’ve made sure that James got a preview.
As she later told Bill Flanagan of Musician Magazine, “I wrote a song for James Taylor that mentioned his suspenders. And then on his next album he went and wore his bloody suspenders on the cover! Well, then the cat was completely out of the bag!”
Oh, Joni, I’m not so sure the suspenders were the giveaway.
As for the young man she talks about after “For Free”—the guy who felt he was over the hill at the ripe old age of 21—it’s not James. It’s Neil Young, and the song his gloomy mood inspired was “Circle Game.” (Good luck finding that cut. Once a ubiquitous bootleg, with the exception of the songs posted here, the concert has all but disappeared, though those who still listen to cds can put it in their baskets on Amazon’s UK site.)