♫ Fire and Rain ♫

I love James Taylor’s voice … it is sensual, somehow.  It is … as if he is singing to me and only me.  I did not know, until doing a brief bit of research for this music post, that he had been heavily into drugs.  Silly me, eh … what else should I have expected?  Sigh.

Taylor wrote this in 1968 at three different times. He started it in London, where he auditioned for The Beatles’ Apple Records. He later worked on it in a Manhattan Hospital, and finished it while in drug rehab at The Austin Riggs Center in Massachusetts. In a 1972 Rolling Stone interview, Taylor explained: “The first verse is about my reactions to the death of a friend (that would be Suzanne – explained below). The second verse is about my arrival in this country with a monkey on my back, and there Jesus is an expression of my desperation in trying to get through the time when my body was aching and the time was at hand when I had to do it. And the third verse of that song refers to my recuperation in Austin Riggs which lasted about five months.”

“It concerned a girl called Susanne I knew who they put into an isolation cell and she couldn’t take it and committed suicide.”  Her name was Susie Schnerr, and Taylor also explained that it was months before he found out about her death, as his friends withheld the news so it wouldn’t distract Taylor from his burgeoning music career.

In a 1972 Rolling Stone interview, Taylor added: “I always felt rather bad about the line, ‘The plans they made put an end to you,’ because ‘they’ only meant ‘ye gods,’ or basically ‘the Fates.’ I never knew her folks but I always wondered whether her folks would hear that and wonder whether it was about them.”

When Taylor performed this in 2015 on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he and Colbert had some fun, with Taylor explaining that he was still working on it. “I wrote that song in 1970, and I just hadn’t seen that much back then – mostly fire and rain, so that’s why I keep saying it over and over again in the song,” he said.

Taylor then explained that he had never seen a calzone at the time, but if he had, he would have definitely added it to the lyric. Taylor and Colbert then performed an updated version of the song with new lyrics. A sample:

“I’ve seen man buns, Myspace and the Baha Men, but I never thought I’d see a new Star Wars again”

“I’ve seen grandmas reading 50 Shades of Grey”

“Quidditch teams and skinny jeans cutting blood off from my thighs”

Oh my!

Fire And Rain
James Taylor

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Won’t you look down upon me, jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things
To come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you, baby, one more time again, now

Thought I’d see you one more time again
There’s just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I’d see you, thought I’d see you fire and rain, now

Songwriters: James Taylor / James V Taylor
Fire And Rain lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

23 thoughts on “♫ Fire and Rain ♫

  1. I like this song. I was never part of the 70’s scene as I was older than most of those people. It’s sad to see so many now in their 60’s or even younger dying because they ruined their bodies with the drugs. It seems to definitely shorten your life. Thanks for sharing this piece. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cool! I am finding that you, your wife and I seem to share similar tastes in music. My friend Herb is into stuff like Nine Inch Nails, and I just simply cannot listen to it … it is too dark for my tastes. As far as Taylor, I think I liked him more in his later years than his earlier, but either way, he has, for me, a magnetic voice.

      Like

    • Awesome! I don’t remember even knowing who he was in high school, which probably speaks volumes about my age. In high school it was the Stones, the Beatles, and social reform musicians, like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, PP&M, etc. I’m glad you liked this one!

      Liked by 1 person

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