James Taylor, Carole King, and a Time Machine

Photo by Jonathan Schilling (Flickr, CC BY-SA 3.0)

As we joined thousands of other boomers walking in to the arena last Saturday night, I turned to my friend and said, “If I see one oxygen tank, I’m leaving!”

I was in denial.  The age of the crowd—all the gray hair, all the mom jeans and Dockers and Skechers and Topsiders—was jarring in its contrast to that day, back in 1971, when with my long hair and my tattered Levi’s, I attended my first rock concert.  The headliner then was none other than James Taylor—all of 23 years old and fresh off the megawatt success of his album, “Sweet Baby James,”—and  the opening act was someone few in the audience had ever heard of, but who, within weeks of that evening, would release her own instant classic of an album—a 29-year-old female singer-songwriter by the name of Carole King.

I was 14 years old back then.  Now, here I was, still 14 at heart, but being forced, by dint of the aging concert-goers surrounding me, to acknowledge that time had heaped an additional 39 years onto my middle-aged but young-at-heart frame.

“How good can this concert be,” I wondered to myself, as I found my seat among the silvery crowd.  No one was whooping.  No one was hollering.  No pungent cloud of spent marijuana smoke hung in the air.  James Taylor was now 62.  Carole King was almost 70!

Really, who were we kidding?  This era had passed—why were we all here?

And then they came to the stage—James Taylor on the rhythm guitar, Carole King on piano, Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar on lead guitar, Leland Sklar on bass, Russ Kunkel on drums.

And the lights went down.

And the music started.

And the singing began.

And all the gray hair disappeared.

And all the years fell away.

And for the next three hours it was 1971.

And I was 14 years old again.

~~Kenn Shapiro

7 Comments on James Taylor, Carole King, and a Time Machine

  1. Donna Zeller // June 15, 2010 at 8:34 pm // Reply

    Unfortunately I only was able to see this concert after recording it on TV. It was as good as it gets. I remember many good hours with the headphones on listening to Carol King/Tapestry and James Taylor/Sweet Baby James (now I now the meaning behind the song. If I just turned the TV up loud and poured a nice glass of wine and watched I could almost have been there.

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