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David Noel Edwards
James Taylor performing at Tanglewood July 4, 2016.

PREVIEW: Berkshires fixture and icon James Taylor to perform at Tanglewood in July

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By Monday, Jan 28, 2019 Arts & Entertainment

Lenox — On July 3, 2019, James Taylor will step onto Tanglewood’s Shed stage for the 26th time. The next night will mark his 27th appearance at the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Fireworks over Stockbridge Bowl will follow his July 4 show.

James Taylor and his band performing at Tanglewood July 4, 2016. Photo: David Noel Edwards

In case you hadn’t noticed, James Taylor has become a fixture at Tanglewood. He has appeared there so many times since his first Shed performance in 1974 that he must be eligible for his own parking spot.

More than a decade ago, the orchestra’s CEO Mark Volpe observed that James Taylor was becoming “one of the icons of Tanglewood.’’ And so he was. This is unusual for a popular artist. Most of Tanglewood’s great icons have come from the classical music world. Conductors. Composers. People like Serge Koussevitsky and Aaron Copland. And, rarely, a composer of film or Broadway music joins the ranks of Tanglewood’s most enduring legends. There’s no better example than Leonard Bernstein (Broadway) or John Corigliano (film).

But how many denim-clad inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have become full-fledged Tanglewood icons? We can count him on one finger. And how many popular artists donate even a fraction of the money Taylor and his wife, Kim (a long-time BSO trustee), give to the orchestra year after year? Fewer than two.

James Taylor performing at Tanglewood July 4, 2016. Photo: David Noel Edwards

Taylor knows as well as anyone that his musical capabilities are rare and valuable. He knows when he has written a great song (if only years after the fact). He knows when he has made a great recording. But he also knows how to manage his ego. He says it was sheer luck that got him an audition with Paul McCartney and George Harrison in 1968 (an encounter that famously led to a contract with Apple Records). All singer/songwriters need luck, usually a lot more than they will ever get. James Taylor needs less.

James Taylor’s concert performances live up to all expectations. He loves what he does for a living, and he wants to make sure you get your money’s worth. He wants you to be happy, and he doesn’t mind getting you there with his old songs. Sure, he wants you to hear his latest songs, but he jokes about it: “I know! You’re all saying, ‘No goddamn new music!’ But,” he explains, “it’s kind of like removing a Band-Aid: We’ve got to do, but it’ll be over before you know it.”

Tickets for James Taylor’s July 2019 Tanglewood appearances went on sale Monday, January 28 at 10 a.m. Warning: In past years, tickets to Taylor’s shows have sold out within a few hours.


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