For James Taylor, “Fire and Rain” was the song that launched his career. Yes, “Carolina in My Mind” was critically acclaimed, but lacked the commercial success seen by “Fire and Rain”; the song reached #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Rolling Stone ranks the song at #227 on their list of 500 greatest songs of all time.
Though widely popular, there are some facts about Taylor’s breakthrough hit you might be unaware of. Here are 5 Things You Didn’t Know about James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”
Taylor unknowingly wrote about his dead friend
“Just yesterday mornin’, they let me know you were gone / Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you”
The very first lines of “Fire and Rain” are about Taylor’s childhood friend, Suzanne Schnerr, who committed suicide while he was in London recording his eponymous debut album in 1968. But Taylor wasn’t aware of the tragic news while writing the song; out of concern for his work, friends never mentioned the loss to him and Taylor found out six months later.
Taylor was bummed about his band
Taylor suffered from depression and the failure of his band, The Flying Machine, greatly weighed on him during this time. He references the band in the line “Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.”
Taylor stole music from his brother!
In an interview with Keith Altham in Petticoat on October 23, 1971, Taylor mentions taking the chord sequence for “Fire and Rain” from a piece of music his musician brother, Alexander, had written.
Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend”
was a response to “Fire and Rain”
Carole King played piano on her friend Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.” She also wrote “You’ve Got a Friend” in response to the line “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend.” Taylor would cover “You’ve Got a Friend” in 1971.
“Fire and Rain and Calzones”
James Taylor appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and performed an “updated” version of “Fire and Rain” to include “those pizzas that are folded over and the edges are crimped with a fork.”
James Taylor will be performing at CBS-FM’s Holiday In Brooklyn with Jimmy Buffett and Sarah McLachlan on December 9th at the Barclays Center. Get more info HERE.