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FIRE AND RAIN by Ian Halperin

FIRE AND RAIN

The James Taylor Story

By Ian Halperin

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-55972-533-8

The turbulent life, loves, and career of pop star James Taylor. With such classic hits as “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Carolina on my Mind,” “Handyman,” “Mexico,” and “Fire and Rain,” the venerable Taylor has been one of popular music’s biggest stars since the late ’60s, when he went to England to begin his recording career. As Halperin shows repeatedly, Taylor, who battled an addiction to heroin and other drugs for years, has not had an easy time of it. His story, however, hardly starts out as the saga of a tortured artist. He was born to Isaac and Trudy Taylor, a happy, loving couple who lived in an upper-middle-class region of Massachusetts, waiting to occupy a great deal of the biographer’s time. Halperin contends that the younger Taylor’s self-destructive habits were inherited by the men in his family (James’s older brother, Alex, also suffered from a heroin addiction, which eventually killed him). Halperin, glossing over James’s normal teenage angst and his isolation from other young people, also makes a case, a much stronger one, that James began his descent into addiction when Isaac began to withdraw from his family. Whatever their cause, James’s feelings of alienation would lead him into a mental hospital during his late teens. Even after Taylor’s first taste of success, with 1970’s Sweet Baby James, which landed him on the cover of Time in 1971, he would slip back into battles with drugs and alcohol. According to Halperin, those consistent transgressions into his old ways, together with their mutual jealousies, eventually destroyed his marriage to fellow pop star Carly Simon. Despite the amount of time Halperin spends on Taylor’s considerable difficulties, the affection he has for Taylor’s music, best exhibited by the interviews with fans that are scattered throughout the book, shines throughout.