I've been driving this afternoon and this evening, listening to James Taylor. The two CD set is simply called James Taylor (Live), a performance from, unbelievably, 1993, though I think, maybe, we bought it later than that. Old favorites include Sweet Baby James, Millworker, Country Road, Fire and Rain, Walking Man, Riding on a Railroad, Something in the Way She Moves, Up on the Roof, Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, Carolina in My Mind, and You've Got a Friend. The titles alone evoke emotions in me, since I hear the melodies and hear James Taylor's voice, as I say them or read them. The songs are playing in my mind right now.
The first time I heard it, Something in the Way She Moves was new to me. I was riveted and delighted, and it became an instant favorite, because it is beautiful, and because it reminded me of a book I'd substantially written, yes, yet another novel-in-progress, (and this one does not involve Billie Joe in any way). There is a wild man, traumatized, and by choice and circumstance shunned and alone, and a young woman who brings him back to himself, first, through the sound of her voice. The story is set in the nebulous middle ages, a setting which would "firm up" in revision. She is in flight from an onerous situation, with a companion who is killed by an enemy. The "wild man" is charged to bring her back to her home, but she is the one who metaphorically rescues him. They grow to depend upon one another, and she becomes enamored.
Yes, it is partly a romance, but only in that, I realize, among other themes, my stories always involve connection and the redeeming power of relationships. But I don't write to theme, and I don't plan. I start with a first sentence and I see where it carries me. Sometimes it's a short story, and sometimes a novel. The story shapes itself. Poetry is a different mind set. It begins with introspection, and I sometimes succeed at defining my emotions with imagery, and when I don't, it's a melody of words. A few of these poems I've posted on my blog are exercise, like my attempt at a villanelle, or my random observations, but others are expressions of who I am.
When I drive in a car on a long trip alone, I sing with the singer of the songs. I can't sing with James Taylor! I don't know what it is. I sing with Billie Joe Armstrong. I sing with the lead singer for Three Days Grace, whatever his name is. I sing with The Beatles, or the Shins, or John Denver, or Bob Dylan, and even with John Ondrasik's Five for Fighting, who sings in a very high pitch. I can't sing with James, not very well. His voice is not high, but the key he sings in, requires me to sing in too high a register, except, when I am singing Fire and Rain, or You've Got a Friend (doing Carole King's higher pitched part, where it seems natural), or Something in the Way She Moves. That's okay. I'm good to listen, the guitar work alone, and the songs that are poetry.