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An acoustic guitar lesson on how to play “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor from the album “Sweet Baby James” released in 1970.
This is one of the greatest folk/pop songs of all time IMHO. I’ve always loved this tune. I found out a bunch of things that I never knew when I was researching it.
This is from Wikipedia:
“On the VH1 series Story Tellers, Taylor said the song was actually about several incidents during his early recording career. The second line “Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you” refers to Suzanne Schnerr, a childhood friend of his who committed suicide while he was in London, England, recording his first album. In that same account, Taylor said he had been in a deep depression after the failure of his new band The Flying Machine to coalesce (the lyric “Sweet dreams and Flying Machines in pieces on the ground”; the reference is to the name of the band rather than a fatal plane crash, as was long rumored).”
James Taylor is a great finger picker and a big part of his sound is that he has fake nails glued on to his existing nails on his picking hand. This allows him to get that really strong attack on the strings and also for a very bright and even tone between his thumb and fingers. He has a video on his youtube channel where he shows how he constructs the nails. He’s very serious about it!
Anyways, it’s a very beautiful song and is a lot of fun to play. I tried to stay true to the original recording except in the chorus which I embellished a bit to get the full descending bass lines that the strings play on the record. It will take some work to get it sounding good and a fair bit patience as well, especially the intro which is so iconic. You’ll want to make sure you get it right.
I hope you enjoy the video and enjoy playing this great old classic.
I get a lot of questions about my sound so here’s what I’m using:
The acoustic guitar I’m playing here is a Taylor 214ce koa deluxe. I really like this guitar, it intonates amazingly well and its tone is very balanced. It’s also very easy to play.
I’ve recently changed my strings from Elixir phosphor bronze 12-53 with nanoweb coating, to Elixir HD lights. The HD lights make my guitar sound better, with an even more balanced sound. The slightly heavier top strings really make the high end come out more. I really love them! These strings are a little bit more expensive, but for me they easily last 4-5 times longer than non-coated strings.
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