My first memories of listening to music on my own involved carrying around my Bicentennial ’76 transistor radio. There were no headphones. I just walked around the yard holding this little treasure up to my ear. I’m certain I heard James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and “How Sweet it is” many times on that tiny device.
My first memories of actually playing James Taylor songs came from a pink songbook entitled, “Contemporary Sounds of Music of Today.” “Fire and Rain” & “Country Road” graced this collection, and quickly became two of my favorites. I would play them on piano and quite often an aunt or cousin would be standing behind me singing along.
Fast forward through high school. Although I heard some of JT’s new releases, I was busy working on my bachelor and master’s degrees in music. Much of my time was spent in a practice room or rehearsing with other musicians. Very little time was left to simply listen to music for pleasure.
But there were moments…a concert in Fayetteville, AR during grad school comes to mind. Here I heard “Your Smiling Face” live for the first time. This was like a second beginning of my love for James Taylor’s music, and the first of many concerts I would attend.
Though it feels like a lifetime ago, there is one song, one small moment in time, which stands out above the rest. Grad school again, my future husband, Gart, and I had just met. My life was kind of a mess.
He introduced me to the song “Like Everyone She Knows” (by James Taylor, of course.) I listened to it on repeat one entire weekend while visiting my family. The more I listened, the more it seemed to be talking about me.
The more I listened, the more I realized Gart was someone special.
I often tell people Gart rescued me. He would say I’m being overly dramatic, but I would have to disagree. Somehow, he was able to see through the mess and here we are twenty-six years, three kids, and six cities later.
I’m thankful for the way he encourages me while challenging me to stretch myself. He likes to say things like, “Life is hard, life is messy, but it is also awesome and beautiful.” And if feelings of doubt or guilt creep in, he reminds me that the difficult times helped make me who I am today.
I’m thankful for the beauty of poetry and music, creating a song with the power to touch my heart. A song which somehow felt like it was written just for me. A song written by my favorite singer, James Taylor (in case you haven’t already figured that out), and introduced to me by a cute guy wearing a Calvin-n-Hobbes t-shirt who was willing to take a chance.
Merry Christmas, Gart. Thank you for continuing to rescue me. I love you!