James Taylor performed to an ecstatic crowd for his first-ever taping of Austin City Limits (ACL) Thursday, a night of celebration after the summer release of Taylor’s #1 album Before This World, his first collection of new material in 10 years. “We’re about to make history here, folks,” said ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona, introducing the beloved musician.
The studio was packed with life-long fans and younger admirers, who loudly expressed their appreciation for the mix of iconic favorites, such as “Georgia on My Mind” and “Sweet Baby James” with new ones like “Today Today Today” and “You and I Again”, both from Before This World. Taylor has been making music for five decades, writing of love, family, recovery, and everyday passions—like baseball. He introduced “Angels of Fenway”, a song he wrote about the “neurosis in Boston” after the Red Sox won the world series, breaking the “curse of the Bambino.”
At 67, Taylor is still strong as a songwriter and a performer, his vocal quality undeniable and sense of humor intact. Taylor performed Carole King’s lovely “You’ve Got a Friend” and the crowd sang along softly, a strong sense of nostalgia taking over the studio, then rejoiced with “How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved By You)”. Taylor then introduced singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin for a three-song encore, including a duet of “You Can Close Your Eyes”, “Mexico” and “Your Smiling Face”, closing the set beautifully. It was a joyous night, and James Taylor looked happy onstage, tipping his signature cap as he walked out amidst powerful applause.
The 18-song set is set to air on PBS Nov. 14.