I may not have mentioned it here, but I'm a bit of a James Taylor fan (I'm understating for those who know me outside of the computer. It'll give them a chuckle). I've only seen him in concert twice (once in Salem, OR, while on vacation, and once in Sioux Falls- both truly magical evenings), but I've been there, with him, since the beginning. And more importantly, he's been there, with me- JT's sweet voice has carried me through rough and gentle times over the decades. I bought his first Greatest Hits album in vinyl, then upgraded to 8-track, then to cassette, then to CD, and finally downloaded to my Zune. I think I have every version of every CD (except the deluxe Rio one that cost a bundle but had the same songs as the regular release), and outside of October Road (which I never did warm to, for some reason), I've loved them all.
So it's not surprising that I hustled out and got JT's (that snot-nose Justin Timberlake calls himself JT? please) Covers CD as soon as I could. I listened to it today, on the way home from an emergency phone-replacement trip (damn dying phones anyway, and a life that does not allow for not having a functioning cell on one at all times), and was charmed and entertained and delighted. Besides knowing most of the songs by their original versions, I also recognized a few from concert performances. This is the kind of laid-back, music for the joy of music, that I envision him playing with his friends, when they're alone and jamming, without fools (who may or may not sound like me), shouting Fire and Rain.
My favorite on the disc is the opener, It's Growing- a pure, vintage, JT style ballad.
Wichita Lineman is infused with a melancholy that Glenn Campbell could never manage with his Gentle on my Rhinestone delivery. Some Days You Gotta Dance and Fade Away had me bopping in my seat. Seminole Wind, the only song on the disc that I didn't know, is haunting and beautiful, and Hound Dog is as un-Elvis as an Elvis song could be (and yeah, I know it was a cover when Elvis sang it as well, but this version is different from all others I've heard).
Only his nearly monotone version of Leonard Cohen's Suzanne didn't resonate, though it did remind me of a story my dear departed writer friend Carole Epstein once told me about a romantic adventure she had with Mr. Cohen, which I will not repeat here, though I will say that she spoke very highly of him. Very.
Is Covers up there with Hourglass (an underappreciated work of genius), or Gorilla (my personal favorite JT CD), or even Greatest Hits (which I believe is his all time best seller- in part because I keep buying different versions)? No. But it's good.
If it wasn't too late in the season, and raining to boot, I'd plug my earphones in and listen to it again while I mow. Instead, I'm going downstairs, to knit and sing along.