Transcript of James Taylor Workshop At A&R Studios - circa 1976 or 1977
NOTE FROM THE TRANSCRIBER: The following represents my transcription of two 60 minute cassette tapes of a music workshop that JT gave at A&R studios in New York City sometime between the years of 1976-1977. I estimated the years because he mentions his 'little girl' that would be Sally who was born in 1974, but he imitates her talking so she would probably be two years old which would make the year 1976. The Greatest Hits Album seems to be already out there and that was released in 1976. Also, the two songs that he says are 'not copyrighted yet' both appear on the JT album which bears a date of 1977 which is also the copyright date on the sheet music for those songs. The other two clues which might clear this up is the August 17th concert date in Boston. Was that in 1976 or 1977?
Ms. Cheryl Munson, a fellow forumiter of JT Online, is the individual that obtained the tape and I think we all owe her a great debt of gratitude for what I feel is a very significant piece of JT history. The tape is not really to be considered a "bootleg" as it is evident from JT's remarks that not only was he aware that the taping was taking place, but that he said it was "OK". The audio quality of the tape is pretty good, but has a low level and this plus JT's obvious nervousness make it difficult to accurately transcribe what is being said. Several of the questions are completely or partially muffled and this made it impossible to transcribe all of them.
The capital letter "L" in parentheses (L) indicates laughter. A question from the audience is labeled "Q" and if the something is not intelligible I use the notation (?). My own editorial comments are made in parentheses. I also wish to thank Sabine Nolte and Rita Lutzow as well as Joel Risberg for their review of the manuscript. I hope that you find what follows as fascinating as I do.
Michael J. Di Julio 8/3/98
HOST " I don't think we can allow any smoking. There's too many people. So what we can do is just walk out into the hall, something like that cause after a while it's going to get too smoky. Here's what what's going to go on here. James is not here yet. He'll probably be here in a few minutes. James will probably do some talking for a few minutes and then some playing and stuff and then really the bulk of the workshop and what really makes it the most interesting is the question and answer period, which is really three quarters of the workshop. So you might do some thought as to what kind of questions ... you know ... what kind of questions you might ask. Try not to ask like tourist questions (L). Try to keep a reasonably hip image here (L). You know, no questions about his success or anything like that. OK, we're swinging."
"I'd like to explain to people who've never come to a workshop before about this place. It's really a nice place. First of all that set back there is the set from my brother's concert. The Carnegie Hall Concert. That's it. I don't know why it's here, but it is. Here's basically the way this place works. This is a famous studio. All the early Dylan records were recorded here. All the Simon and Garfunkel records were recorded here. It used to be a CBS studio. You know the way that it works is kind of hard to explain. But somewheres in the middle of the room is a big junction box where these microphones plug in. There's a whole bunch of different microphones to get different sounds and stuff. But basically what happens in the studio is that the microphones plug into this junction box there and all the wires run underneath the floor and then come up on the board inside where there's really an infinite amount of things that can be done to it. And maybe if we have some time at the end, I'll show you what's going on inside there. That glass booth in back of you is a vocal booth. And the reason that they put the singer inside of a booth is if there's a band playing at the same time, the band leaks into the singer's microphone. So It becomes difficult to control the singer's voice. It's really hard to really explain everything about multi-track recording just kind of sitting here but I purposely put the workshop in this place so that we could kind of get a feel as to what a recording studio is like rather than putting it in an auditorium where everybody probably would have been more comfortable.so that's it. Just layout and we'll start in about 10 minutes."
JT Enters the Studio and there is some rustling and mumbling going on among the audience.
JT: "I would like a chair. The section of the lecture that was to be prepared by me for 15 minutes or so before the questions, we'll probably have to skip it. I thought I was on my way to see my psychiatrist.but I looked in my calendar and it said lecture at A&R. I was .my psyche ... I've got my wrong psyche. I'm glad to be here. Well, this is the guitar. (L) This was made for me by Mark Whitebrook. Who's in traction now in Los Angeles. Making guitars is bad for his lungs. When he sands them and finishes them, the fine particles make his asthma ... irritates his asthmatic condition. So ... Gee ... could I have something like a pre-frontal lobotomy? Could I have a glass of water? ... Coffee?.(something about a bicycle) I feel like Don Knotts on his first date (L) Like Linda Ronstadt on a 78. (L) (Start's picking at his guitar and is apparently nervous). Mark had to quit making guitars actually. Took a gig with Philco-Ford down in Englewood just West of LA. They had him work on this thing that sees heat. So they put him to work up on the pipeline. The Alaskan Pipeline in Anchorage and he was involved in an accident putting this thing in a helicopter. (JT is still nervous) Look at this hand shake. Glass of water, not a drop spilled. System to hands.(someone in the audience says "relax") Relax? you're making me terribly uncomfortable. Let's see ... anyway Mark had to quit the guitar making business. He crashed from about 150 feet and he's been in a back brace ever since. Unable to feel anything with his hands. It's really a sad story. It will probably turn out well. Hopefully it will. I guess he's made about 70 of them. They are all Martin rip-offs, but they're real good. His work is exceptionally good. Pass it around if you'd like. I have two. I don't actually have two. This is mine and the other one belongs to my wife, but she's got the better one. I didn't know it was going to work out that way when I asked him to make guitars. So I've used hers a lot more than this. It has a cedar top. The reason it has paper on the front is because Carole King marred up the finish. I won't hold it against her (L). I just wished someone had stopped her. She was very enthusiastic about it. Songs she had known on the guitar."
(JT starts to play something) "My style of playing is evolved around hymns ... mostly I think hymns and Woody Guthrie. A few Christmas carols. But it's the thumb. I use the thumb (emphasizes the word 'thumb') (L) and the hands that are attached to my arms ... the thumb and these three fingers. For a while there I was breaking fingernails regularly and I had these artificial nails put on. But some of you may do that I don't know. Do any of you use those nails? Well, they're interesting. It's hard to get them to believe you. You say what you want just play the guitar (L). But there's something inherently evil about them. It is epoxying something to your fingertips. You have power."
JT starts to play something again. "I play a scale (plays a scale) (L). I guess I have a number of modes. I wrote a lot of things in D and a lot of things in a sort of a pseudo bassanova over A major 7 feeling. I use a capo a lot (starts to play). It always bears in mind a bass line. Lee Sklar, who always plays bass for me has a difficult time because I don't give him much room to mess around. I pretty much dictate where he's got to go and where he can't be cause my bass lines are so specific."
(JT starts to play something once again) "I went to a high school in North Carolina ... for a while ... where I played in a Rock and Roll band and I also went to a boarding school called Milton Academy up near Boston for a while. A miserable experience for me and probably for everyone who knew me there. But at any rate, up there they played a lot of hymns. It was all C of E (not sure what he is saying here) and.uh.I learned a lot of hymns and I think they pretty much set me up for my style which is very much ... it sets itself up musically very simply. It's all 5-2-1 ... . they're all logical steps. (plays 'A Mighty Fortress is Our God'). I have an actual stutter in one of my fingers (appears that he's still nervous). So, that's one thing and its usually in like G fingering or D. I wrote a couple of songs where I tuned the D down and that's another aspect. I have a couple of tunes in G tuning. You know, that's where you drop the E string down to a D and the A down to a G and you build the chord on up from there. (plays intro to 'Secret of Life') Since I've been talking to Paul Simon a little bit, I've picked up on some diminished chords that I wasn't using before. I'll play you a new song. I'll play you a couple of new songs to try to loosen up a little bit. I know it's uncomfortable to watch someone be nervous. I didn't mean to do that to you. So actually what I'm going to attempt to do is to go through (emphasizes this word) nervousness onto something" (L) (Plays Secret of Life and Sings) (When he gets to the line 'opening up your heart' he says "A real James Taylor song" (L)) (Applause at end of song).
"That's pretty much ... you know ... used the set ... that same A major 7 pattern I've used it a lot. I should probably make condensed versions of all of my work and have ... today put out three albums and then I'd probably be, you know, in better shape. They like lots of them. (starts playing different riffs and intros) See, it's a relative thing I suppose because if you have to sit on that hard floor with your ass on the hard floor, there's no back support, it looks like a lot of time has past by. (L). It's one of the tricks of the trade I think. I've got a lot of other songs in that major 7 thing. I've got another one that I wrote last night that I'll.I'll.(sort of stutters and whistles to break the stutter) whew !.that I'll play for you at this point. Let's see ... (starts to play and sing 'If I Keep my Heart out of Sight'). (His voice is stretching out too high) ... I'll have to remove the capo.it's obvious right now (L) That should be of some relief to some of you, especially those of you in the audience with perfect pitch. If its going to be another one of those tunes. (plays and sings it again) (Whistles an outro) at which point it'll conveniently fade .it's good to be here." (applause)
"OK ... um ... (plays various intros and riffs). My favorite guitarists are Daniel Kortchmar, Ry Cooder is also a terrific player. George Benson plays nice. Wes Stewart did play good too. And anyway, Ry Kuder's style is something I wish I could emulate. Do you know of a fellow named Joseph Spence? And a folk record called 'Music of the Palmas'? That's that trip he really can't get decided either where he comes from either. He's a bricklayer down there who was brought up here. He was recorded down there, on location, a couple of times. I'm not going to play any of his stuff, but he plays like a ragtime style" (plays)
HOST " Hey James ... Can I stop you for a minute? (JT says 'Sure') We got a slight problem. This is obviously a really special night. There's really a lot of people here. There's about ten more people outside. I'd really feel a lot more comfortable if we could get them in. Is there any more room back there you think? Where we could just move back a little bit? I'd appreciate it. Could you all move back?"
JT: "I'm going to do it all again anyway (L) ( At this point it appears that JT realizes that the person who made this tape is taping him and is having some trouble flipping the tape over to record on the other side." (JT says something a like 'It's really OK')
JT: "The strings I'm using are made by this guy Phil Petillo who lives out in Ocean, NJ. (he still lives there and is listed in the phone book as a 'Luthier') He makes a nice string but I think he's presently involved in litigation with the people who were going to take it to the people. Anyway, I've got a whole mess of free ones from him. I'm setup (L). They're made out of copper and the Guild makes a nice one too. That's a good string. (Plays) I like lights but these Petillo's are between light and extra lights. I used to play with extra lights. I used one of those wrist exercisers to get my grip up."
"I could play you another song or you could ask me some questions. (There is some banter that I can't hear and someone says 'Relax' and JT says 'Is that an order? I like relaxing.') I just had a tuba lesson. My teacher, a guy named Toby Hanks, who plays with the.the uh ... well he plays around. He plays a lot of ... When you're a tuba player I don't think you can get any one straight gig. (L) He teaches a little bit up in Boston. He teaches down here and he plays with the New York City Ballet. They've been on strike so ... we bust his chops we're going to move down there again. (not sure about this last part) I just had a tuba lesson and it hyperventilates me so much. It's exciting though it makes you think in bass lines. You can't ... it's difficult to sing and play at the same time and I like it for that. (L) I'm not tempted to ruin my melodies. You can fall back on the changes so much. I use the guitar just as accompaniment and uh ... so occasionally the whole things down in the corner (Plays) and with ... stuff ... a little piece of the watermelon. (not sure what is being said here) (Plays) Here's a simple tune (plays and sings 'Captain Jim's Drunken Dream') (applause) (the tape is flipped over to side two during this song). That's a real simple thing. It just sets up. I'll show you the notes."
"OK, so please ask me some questions and I'll answer them." Q "I have a question" JT "OK ... please ask it". Q "Have you ever invalidated your creativity." (the rest is unintelligible) (L) JT "I don't know, usually taking it.The first question is going to be a difficult one. Yeah,.you know kind of. (L) and I do feel as though they've gone to hell. But that last one is a perfectly good song. A lot of the songs maybe aren't so great, but sometimes the performance of it doesn't really do the writing of it justice. I mean, my major regrets have to do with my letting it go out on record in a form that doesn't represent it right. Cause, I mean, I may have gone to hell personally, but I can't finish a song if it doesn't delight me in some way you know. So they don't usually get off the pen unless they seem like a good idea at the time. And your other question about what I can do to make myself feel more comfortable. Is that usually I arrive at.when I'm doing a gig ... there's ... it's much more ... you know ... often it's just like this. That's what this is just like. This is just a piss ... but.or the other thing (L). But ... I've used drugs and they work great! (L) But they dull you know. You really don't. At any rate when I go to a gig I arrive there at about five o'clock or so. I do a sound check. I see what the hall looks like. I see it before the audience is there. We go through our sound check and usually, this won't be opening night.
For instance, tonight is opening night. I haven't done a show since ... um ... I don't know ... I guess around the 17th in Boston. (this is a clue as to what year it is) So, Usually it rolls along and I'll had used up my opening night nerves already. And also, Eric Barnett, my road manager, will come by and say 'we'll be letting the people in now' and 'OK you've got an hour to go now, you've got 25 minutes. Can I take the guitars and put them on stage now'. Yes they can, and there's a sort of.my nerves build to the right thing and then I start off with something that soothes me a little bit and then we do something funny hopefully. You know.a funny number and that loosens it a little more. We just sort of work the night in and hope to get through it as best as possible. It's best with about 3,000 people. I mean maximum and anything down to about just this size. I hope that answers your question and all the rest of your questions (L). I'm sorry, that was a damn good answer if I may say so" (L) (Applause).
JT: "This is great."
Q: "I think you said that you take some of your style from Woody Guthrie. Did you say that?"
JT: "Yes I did"
Q: "OK, your accompaniment (JT interrupts 'And I was the only one who said it') doesn't sound like the stuff that I've heard on the folkways (not sure of word here) albums. Woody Guthrie seems to have a driving almost monotonous kind of guitar playing. Is it your singing or your songs that you take or ...?" (not sure of words here)
JT: "I used to listen to the children's record of Woody Guthrie a lot and I suppose he's.a little bit of his phrasing is what I meant, vocal phrasing. I was listening to Woody Guthrie just today. That driving thing you know. He might be more.I mean he didn't have an amplifier or anything. His strings stand three quarters of an inch off the fret board and he uses ... you know a doubled over Shell credit card as a pick. (L) It just gets out there. Big cables and his bridge is bulging up like that. The guitar is ah ... ! And that's fine. I think that's part of the reason he played that way (plays some Woody Guthrie tune) But I listen to a lot of things."
JT: " You had a question too."
Q: "Yes, I was gonna say do you ever get tired of playing certain songs such as Fire and Rain?"
JT: "I haven't gotten really tired. I'm usually relieved by the time I'm singing that."
Q: "Happy to play it?"
JT: "Yes, I'm happy to play it. I've no regrets. I haven't yet but I think I've probably sung it half the times I shall have sung it in my life now. And by the time I'm finished I'll bet I'm sick of it. I haven't. Something that happens, that you may or may not find amusing. Something that has happened to me. Sometimes in between the two.the first verse and the second verse I'll forget whether I'm between the first and the second or the second and the third. The chorus ends the same way both times. At that point I count on my band to come in with that pedal point to not to. The third verse all has a low, has a pedal point under there. (plays to demonstrate this point) Yes, I could sing it." (L)
Q: "You play every day?"
JT: "Something ... Yeah. I don't have anything else to do you know so it's all right (L). This is the way I feel about the guitar is that it did itself. I saw some guy playing it when I was in sixth grade I think. At the time, my parents were encouraging me to play the cello in North Carolina, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and a marvelous woman would come over to our house once a week and threaten my life for having gone through the drudgery in front of me. So, uh.when I saw him playing.(JT starts to play and do a yodeling type of song), I said hey that's great, you know. (L) That's much better than sawing away at that thing (L). Now I'm trying to play the bugle, but the guitar did itself you know, so I didn't have to pick it up and try to do it all the time. It's just like um.I wanted to pick it up. It grew by itself and I think that anything that happens like that to a person, you know if it be art or music is a thing then you never have to work. No, you do sooner or later have to pay the fiddler, but you have to show up somewhere, you know, and do something that you don't want to do and worry about who you are and all the rest of the bullshit comes into it. But you know on balance it's worth it, business?(L). I've.you know, people buy what they want to buy so if I keep a low profile and different periodicals sell me as something I'm not or other people buy me for something other than I am, I don't give a damn. I don't expect them to be personally communicated into my music. If I write in a melancholy mood or in a corny mood, it's not me, you know, it's a place I write from. But I very seldom write from what I would like to be considered, you know, that represents me."
"That's ... Yes, please (someone wants to ask a question).
Q: "You ever go through a period where you are writing songs that are like the same ... " (hard to hear what is being asked).
JT: "I don't know. If anyone else answers that question drop me a line immediately. I do.I do that.I fall in this major 7 fag you know, because it suits me. So I like to hear it so my fingers play it. I think an interesting thing about learning to do anything. I was taking flying lessons before, mostly in the key of E flat (L) and now I'm taking tuba lessons. You'll notice that most small aircraft that do go over are doing about an E flat or maybe an F. It's around here. (Hums and plays a note). 1700 is usually the cruising.but the way that all instructors that I've ever had, at least since I was in school, and I think school was less of a way of learning material and more a way of dealing with young people with time on their hands who weren't ready to join the labor force yet or whatever.you know ... whatever school was. It wasn't the same as flying lessons or tuba lessons. They forced it at you. They kept it coming at you always constantly as fast as you could handle it. They try to keep a good pressure in the hopper. In other words, the guy who just.you're flying along like this and OK he'll say, make a spiraling turn out to so many thousand feet, bank to so many degrees and keep your air speed at a certain amount and watch your throttle and you'll always be.you know piling this stuff on just as fast as you can so you'll always be operating at peak capacity. But once you get to the point, you know, where you just play that major seventh chord (L) they begin to sound the same.all the records (plays) just like that. So I write a lot of songs like that.(plays). This is a nice one, I'll teach you this before we go home. You just play the major seventh and then it takes these three fingers and then you just slide the middle one up and just set that one over there like that and ... kind of like Stephen Foster's"
Q: "I'm sure everyone is wondering who has like influenced your music through the years?"
JT: "I had a friend, he's still my friend but I haven't seen him in years, his name is Joel O'Brian. He used to play with the Flying Machine, this rock and roll group we had. He's a drummer and he and my brother Alex are pretty much responsible for my jazz and popular musical education to the point where I released the album Sweet Baby James and start to influence my surroundings more than they influenced me unfortunately, so I would say. They played me Ray Charles, they played me all of the Atlantic stuff and ATCO stuff and I listened to a lot of. I loved Bill Evans."
Q: "But (some words unintelligible) ... like the content when you start to write a song is it just a thought, that comes into your mind then or is it something that you've been thinking of?"
JT: "Yeah, I don't know how that started. I started to write.I wrote my first song when I was 13 and I was in love with this girl."
Q: "Did you use someone else's lyrics?"
JT: "Not intentionally. (L) I think I collaborated with a lyricist. Kate Brackman and I wrote a tune together once. I wrote ... I've written the lyrics for other people. My badge." (I'm not sure of this word and then the tape is changed). "I wrote a tune called 'The Man in Between' which is a little lyrically same sort of place as 'Nowhere Man', the Beatles's tune. How long are those cassettes? How long have we been going? Is this wearing on?" (someone says 'Twenty Minutes' to which JT responds 'Twenty Minutes !')
Q: "How much control do you have over what goes on your records?"
JT: "I don't know. It's not really.It has more to do with how much control I have over my life and how I just personally feel. That's the thing. You see ... it's across the board. If I could come here and be in tune and control I could also go into the studio and count on that. But I feel as though its just happenstantial what ends up on there you know."
Q: "What comes first the lyrics or the music?"
JT: "A central idea comes at the same time initially and then the rest of it either comes or doesn't you know. It usually follows the path of least resistance and goes through all the changes."
Q: "You played a song for us and you said you just wrote it last night. I was wondering how many times do you think you'll change that, if at all, before you record it and in general how does that usually work? How many times do you get to change a song before you usually get to put it on an album?"
JT: "It depends on how close to recording time. The main change happens if you take the thing on stage in front of an audience with a band. Then it really solidifies and pretty much ends up good.the arrangement ... at least with me. That will change. That tune that I played will have a saxophone solo where I end it and then it will reprise.the reprieve? reprise? (plays ending of "If I Keep my Heart out of Sight') I don't know ... it's just a lyric ... it's a little love tune but its got some cute lines."
Q: "Do you have that song that you sang for that 13 year old lady friend?" (L)
JT: "She wasn't 13. I was 13. Yes, I do a little bit remember it but I'm not going to play it. (L) No, it's about a girl named Susan, not Suzanne but Susan. I beg your pardon?"
JT: (plays 'Oh Susanna') "I like Stephen Foster, he's OK."
JT: "If you just noodle on the guitar you end up with things like that. You know, you just mess around and try to change the chords to do it. It's changed some since then too."
JT: "In half the time. They're lying all over the place. But sometimes you get lucky and you can just glom a couple of them together like that. Stuff them at the end of an album. (L) The critics tell you that it's great. They're idiots."
Q: "In one of your songs, 'Something in the way She Moves' on the recording I notice almost a clicking sound of your nails on the string ... I was wondering if that was intentional or it just came out of the record?"
JT: "I don't know, was it the Apple recording?"
Q: "No, the Greatest Hits.
JT: The Greatest Hits. Gee, I couldn't say. I think the way we miked that was to put a Neecim 50 (not sure this is correct) ... a little dangling tie microphone that you see, that I see on all the game shows. I sit there and play the guitar and watch the game shows. (L) Sit and play the major seventh and a few suspended chords and watch the game shows. Yeah ... take a couple of Percodans. Huh ... it's great! What was the question? What was the answer?"
Q: "The clicking of the nails."
JT: "There was also a microphone close by and I think Peter Asher kind of ... I was using those padding nails, they call them, and they were like a sixteenth of an inch thick. They make a sound."
Q: "It's hard to figure out how it came out."
JT: "Did it bother you?"
Q: "Yes, it was bothering me ... how it happened." (L)
JT: "Sorry ... it didn't sell too well.
Q: (unintelligible something about 'Do you use those fake nails now?')
JT: "No, what I do now is I take crazy glue (L) No I do, crazy glue. I put a little ... watch out for that stuff! Whew! I take a little crazy glue and I put a little bead right on the edge of the fingernail like that (blows like he's drying it) and I (blows and whistles) and I sit there and wait and hope that it doesn't freeze up inside the little neck of the little spout there so that ... I have to force a pin down there and do the second nail like that too. You can repair splits with that stuff too but I wouldn't put it all over your nails because it's got to be able to get into your system. If you have any respect for your liver at all. (L) Actually, its my brother Alexander who says ... you see he like ... he has this automobile and he looks at his body the same way. He would hate to have the clutch give out and the car be useless because of the clutch and have a perfectly good engine. So, he thinks the same way of his body ... you know. If his heart's going to give out at 70, he wants his liver to give out at 70, too. He wants the whole thing just to ... (unintelligible). So, I'll probably die of eating Big Macs before the crazy glue gets my liver.
Q: "In a lot of your songs your words are representative of yourself.I'm curious what you thought of representing yourself." (not sure I have all this correct) JT "Yeah, it was a curious thing to have said. I don't think we can hope to represent ourselves. I know that I'm an autobiographer. That's my job and I don't always expect it to be that interesting. You know ... I'm not going to sit here and apologize for it but I do for a living just sit and navigate my own way through out loud and sell it. And ... ah. I think that self examination is the thing these days, that's all. It's just a logical step from mechanical revolution."
Q: "What song ... (missing some words here) ... represents the way you feel about yourself or a song that you think that typifies what you'd like to say."
JT: "That I have written?"
Q: "That you have written."
JT: " Different things for different ... I'll mull it over a little. I should have thought about it before I came. Did you think of it? OK, I'll try to think of it."
JT: "Building melodies on chords? Do I have any tips on building melodies? I don't know ... you know, as I've said, I go in very logical and traditional directions. At right angles to myself. I think they just tell you in simple theory class that a seventh leads up four. If you play a seventh ... this is just the kind of hard information ... that's a great question. That's just the kind of thing I should be able to ... (plays). I use a lot of five of five to five to one. There was one in that tune I was just playing (plays and whistles 'If I keep my Heart out of 'Looks like another fall, your friends they don't seem to help at all.'). What I like to do is pick up a chord and move the bass line around it or else set up a single melody line and change the chords underneath. Stuff like that. It doesn't make for very good MUSAK arrangements."
Q: "James, you said you are really very autobiographical.?"
JT: "Seem to be."
Q: (Something about Areka and Kate Brackman)
JT: "It really seems likely that I would have gotten into one of them because Carly's done both S and TM and Kate Brackman writes with Carly's and we've known an awful lot of people who've done Areka and he'll regularly say to me there's going to be a training this weekend and are you coming for 24 hours to hear Oscar speak or something like that. But I've never done any of it. But I think I get a lot of the lingo and some contact time from people who've done that."
Q: (probably something about 'how long have you been playing')
JT: "Since I was 12 ... for a living."
Q: "You've got a friend. Carol King wrote the song but the song sounds like your song ... did you arrange it?" (not sure this is what is said)
JT: "She ... it was a guitar arrangement so. It was you know just me and Daniel Kortchmar basically and Lee Sklar played on it too. (starts to play it) Carol did the tune in the Troubadour when we were doing the gig there and I was just crazy about it and so I played it. She recorded it first and then I ... "
Q: (something about 'songs that you have written that are mellow')
JT: "It's all usually this. I very seldom strum (does some finger licks) that's all just thumb and pinching (I'm not sure of this word). I guess it depends on the drummer and stuff like that."
(End of second side of tape one).
JT: "I think it's a beat that I really like is that New Orleans thing. You know, that New Orleans March. I've got a new song I'll play you. (plays 'I Ought to be On my Way by Now') (applause). The drum will go .. taka, tum, taka tum ... it will sound real thumpy in between there ... bum, bum, bum. The tuba player, boom, boom ... (Tape cuts off for a while) Play it myself I will (tape cuts off again) Uh ... I did a long strong folky binge and I got happy and I got all the dose that ... I cried explosion and ... Gary Wright and Elizabeth Cotton. She has a tune called ... (sings and plays 'I will wear a crown when I get home ... ') It's a lot like ... "(plays and sings 'I Ought to be on my Way by Now')
Q: "Do you play jazz?"
JT: "I don't know what you mean. I think that the term maybe should be outlawed. It's a difficult one. If its ... I guess ... what does jazz mean to you? I think it's just a threshold over which you've gone, you know. I think it almost means it's not popular. You know and for that reason it's an unfortunate term. I think you see a lot of jazz now, whereas you didn't see ... Maybe jazz was a viable term in the early 60's and 50's and stuff when you didn't hear any unpopular music, but there is some great popular music that all the kids are listening to. You know and I think that the musical awareness and taste of the public has been elevated as a byproduct of the greed of the people in the record industry, like myself, and uh ... that has a real effect. I think there's more and more jazz all over the place and I think people like Matt Weiss, who is my lawyer and who engineered a lot of the beginning of my career, handles a number of jazz artists. I don't mean physically (L) and he can sell them now more and more and more which is an amazing thing. John McLaughlin is very ... I think its very sophisticated stuff. It's not just pyrotechnics, it's beautiful music and for that to have a public audience.you know.that's great. And also, Chick Corea, you know I think he did some work with Fraternity (not sure of word) Forever. So there ... you know.that stuff can sell too and it creeps out more and more. So I try to get into it. My favorite singer in the world is Sam Cooke, although he's no longer with us.he's always with us (JT sounds choked up) ... and he's just.just terrific."
Q: "James, do you know anything about Kenny Rankin?"
JT: "No, Kenny Rankin is terrific. I've never even seen him live I've just heard his records and stuff."
Q: (Unintelligible) (L)
JT "I don't know. (plays) I work at it yes."
Q: (asks about the names of the two new songs that JT just played)
JT: "Um, the last one was called 'I Ought to be on my Way by Now' (ultimately became known as 'Terra Nova'). I guess and the one before was 'If I Keep My Heart" or 'Keep my Heart Out of Sight' or something. If you've got any better ideas ... these are up for grabs.(L) They're also not copyrighted ... they're very competitive at this point. Just made it a date (not sure this is the word) at this point" (L)
Q: "Is any of this music going to be on paper?"
JT: "Oh yeah ... I ought to do that ... Um ... Happy and Artie Traum I guess were the last people ... are either Happy or Artie here tonight? Is Artie here tonight? Arties's here? Where? Anyway ... I guess ... Artie was it you who was responsible for the ... I don't know. Anyway, some of those capo positions were wrong. I mean it's OK cause they ... however they come out is fine. I really meant to do one myself and check the lead sheets very carefully but it's just laziness that's kept me from doing it. And I will ... I promise I will come out with one. What would you rather have like a conclusive thing or like a greatest hits thing or ... (this probably puts this workshop at some time prior to 1978, the copyright date of his Greatest Hits Songbook) (mumbling and laughter). OK. I'm going. How's that?" (someone says 'everything!')
Q: "Did you bring your tuba?"
JT: "No I didn't. It's ... boy ... big!. I haven't got a bag for it yet either. (L) Some instrument! Is there a plumber in the house? You should see this thing. What a fucker! It's really ... It's got all kinds of beautiful valves."
Q: "Any favorites in terms of tuba music?"
JT: "Howard Johnson has always been a favorite of mine and you know that thing Taj Majal did with the eight tubas? Did you ever ... did any of you ever ... boy I hope he does that again. And then ... it's just a real good instrument. It's a valve instrument and it gets you into the overtone series. Very good for your breathing. I think and it will start you thinking in bass lines."
Q: "Right now, do you need to work on that?"
JT: "I just think its a good place to start. It's not where I'm weak specifically but what is true is that my writing has been totally dictated to by my style. My guitar style. So that I've .my songs are beginning to feel a little inbred to me now. So I want to get out of that. I write a couple of things on the piano now and then."
JT: "Yeah, I've written a couple of instrumental things. I wrote ..."
JT: "I made a movie once. It was 'Two Lane Blacktop'. I never saw it. I saw about five seconds of it once when they asked me to over dub something in it and that's it. It was in black and white ... the five seconds that I saw ... so ... (someone from audience says 'I saw it!') Well that's what I was afraid of. (L) I passed on it. It was a frightening experience actually. I had never made a movie before and ... that I know about. Actually, I did make a movie once before ... then ... but ... wait 'til that devil shows up! (L) I was really, you know, very intimidated. This is a big film you know. A big deal. Marty Hellman, who made the film, would not allow myself, Laurie Berg or Dennis Wilson to see the script or to know what the plot was. And we were given a page of script at a time. This may help to enlighten the person who asked about how much control I have. I really had no idea what the fuck I was doing. And I would just ... you know ... instead of saying it's not working because of this so here's what we are trying to do in this scene. Hellman's idea really was rather to film us pretty much going through what the movie was supposed to be about, which was drag racing this car across the country. We put in fifteen hours days and (not sure of word here) this car all the time and he'd give us our lines sort of piece meal and he prepare us with something like sensitivity exercises and then put us in front of the camera. And I really resented not being included in the cerebral process of making a film. I really felt I had been cheated out of what could have been a valuable experience. So to a certain extent I boycotted it and have never seen it. But if you got any scripts just send them right in. (L) I'm listed in the radio (not sure of word) registry and um.
Q: "James, do you write your ... (not intelligible)"
JT: "No, I can't write the music on paper (not sure of these last four words), although I have written proper charts before by just writing the names of the notes you know, but it's really hectic.it's not."
Q: (something about when you're in a studio with other musicians how do you ... )
JT: (interrupts) "Header"
JT: "Head arrangements, pretty much they're ... head arrangements pretty much. People who play are ... it's the way most rock and roll ... well ... maybe it's not. You go in with a basic idea and I just write out the bass line and the chords ... um ... with letters and bible belt symbols and then we just work through it. The drummer listens to it ... Russel Kunkel listens to it and he gets the feeling for it and then later if we're gonna sweeten it ... well, it's either us who already know the thing or I'm telling someone specifically what to put down. Or else it would be ... I'd get a bonafide can write notes arranger and makes a spring (not sure of word) chart or something."
Q: "Where did you learn to ... (rest unintelligible)"
JT: "I picked it up from listening to him (maybe 'hymns") and uh ... I don't know ... I just uh. My father is a doctor and my mother was a housewife and uh ... I don't know how my family got into this. I actually intended to bail out, you know. My father is a ... my father's work is very academic and was at that time and he was very successful academically and was dean of a medical school in North Carolina. And I suppose it was expected of me as well to do that. At one point I bailed out but it's ... instead of being the one to bail out ... it looks like ... I didn't want to be responsible anymore you know for what happened to those who followed. It didn't really work out that way. You can tell we're going to take a break now by the way I'm about to walk offstage.(L) (applause). I'll come back and say goodbye and if there are any more questions and stuff. Get up and stretch your legs a little or something, I know the floor is really terrible."
(Starts to play) JT: "It depends on whether or not it's an A. Is it an A? If it's ... (plays Oh Susannah, the Dixieland then sings it) ... Someone was asking a little earlier about stacking up chords. I like to play often instead of a major seventh something I know as a major ninth. (plays one) ... Which is just to take a chord and then play in the bass a fourth of it, in other words play an E like that (plays one) and then in the bass of it (plays it) ... this is just another variation on ... (plays the A major thing) (L) I guess another thing I'm relatively well known for is this hammering on trip you know. (demonstrates by playing the intro and some lines from Carolina, then singing it) (does the riff in Carolina with the D chord ) See, that goes like that (does the D thing again) that's got it. I'm going to Carolina in my mind. That five of five thing. (Does rest of song emphasizing the D and A riff) Set up a walking bass line like that if you want (does the D, A/C#, Bm7, A sequence over and over from the ending of Carolina then breaks into another song that uses the same walking bass line) You make me feel like dancing.(L) ... dance the night away. (Then plays some more Carolina and does part of 'Smiling Face' using same walking bass line. At part of the song where he does the first capo change he says ... ) Gonna have to move the capo. (continues the song) Anyway, (applause) you can get a lot of mileage out of those little wheels. (applause) But you know, I don't know what I'm going to do with that song ... cause a ... first of all it just keeps going on and on ... baby quick! before it ... just ... you know it's up there I guess at a certain point you just drop it right back down ... keep on going. But it's also, you know, another one of those (plays a walking bass line and does some more of Carolina) I'm gone, I'm gone, I'm gone .
(End of side one of tape two).
Person from audience says "Jesus!"
JT: "It's very difficult now without ... I have done it occasionally but just for the guitar. But it's very embarrassing. (L) And ..."
People from audience "We're not very good. We're not all that good either"
(JT plays something) JT: "Well it's in the key ... again D ... (plays 'You Can Close Your Eyes') You can play an A too. I can. (L) I do actually ... sometimes Carly and I will sing this and I'll do the first verse and she'll take the second. We'll modulate to the E to the A (demonstrates) and then she'll take the melody over when we go into the (I can't understand the word) ... A ... then I'll do the harmony. (plays and sings the song) (applause) Does anyone here have wine or anything like that? So I can. Anyone have wine? ... And ... "
Someone from audience says 'Thunderbird. I don't want to be lonely tonight' (L) Someone else says 'Jacobacci. I don't want to be lonely tonight'
JT: (says something I can't make out) (L) (clapping) "I'm terribly sorry ... I've done that so many times. (something I can't understand) (L) Gotta get there ... (plays and whistles to Don't Let me Be Lonely Tonight) Anyway that's a tune like I was talking about, where the melody stays the same and the changes change. (sings it) Must have edited that out. There was a beautiful solo by Mike Brecker (plays and whistles) Didn't sound anything like that. (L) (Then goes Da ... da ... da ... da ... trying to imitate a horn sound) It's lovely. Can't do it on the human voice. I wrote a tune called 'Bartender's Blues'. I'll play you just a couple of verses of it. This is a rip-off of so many country tunes that I don't know if they'll be standing in line to sue me. (sings and plays entire song) (plays around with ending) (L) (applause) A little slower. We'll do it slower, we'll do it even more agonizing later on. The bass player can go to sleep (L) and the drummer can just do (makes slow popping noise) (L) I'll try to cop my agonizing George Jones licks even worse. (L) So ... uh ... you'll have that to look forward to if you buy records. (L) I personally won't allow one of my albums in the house. (L) Caution contains the words mother fucker. (L) Clearly stated within. (this means that it must be at least 1976 as this is when the Greatest Hits album was released) Let's see ... that's my George Jones imitation but ... uh ... (plays some scales and a sequence that sounds like chimes) Anyway, we can call the answering service or ... I'm just going to play a little bit of this (I can't make out words) 'Love has Brought Me Around' which is in this amazing tuning. (probably open D) I showed this to my little girl, she said 'I can play this' (indicates that Sally was old enough to talk so 1976 sounds like a good lower limit on the date) (Plays 'Love has Brought me Around") (applause) Thank You very much" (Several Thank You's from audience)
Some woman says "Anyone going to Brooklyn" (pronounces it like 'Brookland' ... That's how we know they are in New York City).