Idol Chatter

Blender magazine has named James Taylor the #1 “wuss” ever. According to the magazine, J.T. is accused of initiating “an era of confessional, listen-to-my-troubles singer/songwriters” and turning “self-examination into a hallmark of the baby-boom generation.”

J.T.? A “wuss”? You’ve got to be kidding me!

James Taylor is about the least wussiest guitar master and stud singer ever. At a time when real wusses followed the crowd and protested, J.T. was original, authentic, and refreshing (“Sweet Baby James,” “Fire and Rain”) even when covering someone else’s tunes (“Up on a Roof,” “You’ve Got a Friend”). While the pop culture honored everyone and everything it could blame for issues and guilt, J.T. wrote and sang with personal responsibility (“I Will Not Life For You,” “Millworker”). When cheesy singers sang cheesier fake love songs, James wrote steamrollin’ lyrics like “I’d like to roll all over you.” When lead singers had to lose their sound in studio effects and headbanging bands, J.T. opened concerts solo with his ax and a plain spotlight; while others donned costumes, J.T. sang in a t-shirt, jeans, and the occasional collared shirt.

In other words, he brought the music–the words and the passion–and not much else. And years later, while the cheesier guys have faded, J.T. is still a musical force and his lyrics have transcended a generation.

I would hope a spiritual person is clear on the difference between a “wuss” and, well, whatever the opposite of a “wuss” is. My #1 vote for the #1 Wuss is the Blender editor who gave J.T. the title. His career, I suspect, will land somewhere between chopped and puree, while J.T. continues to entertain audiences full of non-wusses who gladly pay for the privilege.

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