I inwardly chattered all Tuesday night, worried I’d been mean to James Taylor in my review of his dreary Christmas album. I’m just not a natural-born critic, I guess. How do professional reviewers subdue their smug feelings of superiority? Many don’t, I guess. Plus, there’s a yearning for bitchiness in our culture. But when writers descend into bitchiness, they are less honest; their reviews become schtick.
So, allow me to send you to a marvelous, and little-known song James Taylor recorded about six years ago (which I happened to recall at the peak of my worry): a Stephen Foster ballad called “Hard Times (Come Again No More)” on the album “Appalachian Journey” which includes the stellar back-up of Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O’Connor. Part folk, part classical, it’s heart-opening and haunting, a nice thing to listen to as the autumn leaves fall.