James Taylor is one of America’s most beloved singer-songwriters, and he has released an extensive discography over the years. In this post, we’ll be exploring three of JT’s best albums of all time. These albums are noted for their lyrical beauty while also showcasing Taylor’s compositional abilities as a musician.
Let’s get started and jump right into James Taylor’s 3 Best Albums of All Time:
JT is James Taylor’s eighth studio album, and was released on June 22, 1977 by Columbia Records, making it his first album released for the label.
Your Smiling Face” is my favorite track from this one, and was quite a big hit, peaking at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
The JT album also contains other Taylor classics like “Secret O’ Life” and “Terra Nova” (which featured James Taylor’s then-wife Carly Simon).
Sweet Baby James
This is my favorite James Taylor album. It’s one of those rare albums where every song is a real winner. Even the underrated gems like “Blossom” or “Anywhere Like Heaven” are incredible.
And of course there’s “Sweet Baby James” itself – the title track of the album. In classic James Taylor fashion, the song is simultaneously melancholic and upbeat.
The song celebrates solitude and beautiful landscapes, though it is touched with a hint of loneliness:
There is a young cowboy, he lives on the rangeJames Taylor, Sweet Baby James
His horse and his cattle are his only companions
He works in the saddle and he sleeps in the canyons
Waiting for summer, his pastures to change
The album showcases nearly all of James Taylor’s lyrical themes that would later define his work, one of which is travel – hitting the road:
Take to the highway, won’t you tell me your name?
Your way and my way seem to be one and the same.James Taylor, Country Road
This theme is on full display in Country Road, another classic song off the Sweet Baby James album.
Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon
Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon was James Taylor’s third studio album, recorded and released in 1971.
The album is most well known for containing James Taylor’s biggest hit single in the US, a cover version of Carole King’s classic “You’ve Got a Friend.”
Taylor’s version hit #1 on the Billboard charts on July 31, 1971, and it was his only song to do so.
Rolling Stone noted that the album made for “pleasant, absorbing listening, [though] there is a terrible weariness to it which is part of its artistic statement.”
This contrast between simultaneous weariness/melancholy and pleasantness is part of the beauty of JT’s music, and my favorite thing about his work.
Discover James Taylor’s Best Songs
James has made so many great songs on the acoustic guitar over the years that he deserves a full post where we take a closer look at his best acoustic music. That’s why I’ve decided to break down James Taylor’s best songs for the acoustic guitar in the post below:
(If you’re a guitarist, you’ll appreciate that I’ve also included chords and tabs for every song)