This set of 5 James Taylor lessons includes 3 from his album Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon, along with a couple later masterpieces. Songs included are You've Got A Friend, You Can Close Your Eyes, Soldiers, Copperline and Mexico.
Lesson 1: You’ve Got A Friend - James Taylor - Guitar Lesson
Carole King’s song, You’ve Got A Friend has been the most requested lesson here at TG for a long time. Of course, we are talking about James Taylor’s definitive version as heard on his album Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon. Like most of James’ arrangements, this showcases his beautiful fingerpicking style at its best.
The lesson goes over the chord progression and the specific way to play many of his embellishments but, as with most of his songs, the variations are endless and really need to be created or recreated every time the song is played. The student must already be comfortable with standard patterns and random altering of them, as well as random arpeggio patterns to get the most out of this lesson.
Lesson 2: You Can Close Your Eyes - Guitar Lesson
You Can Close Your Eyes is an early James Taylor song, released in 1971 on his album Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon. James’ picking style is fairly free form and this lesson goes over some of his standard techniques and licks, including transitioning from Travis picking into finger-strumming styles. The point is to change it a bit every time but play the fills and bass lines accurately.
Lesson 3: Soldiers by James Taylor - Guitar Lesson
Soldiers is a very short song from James Taylor’s 1971 album Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon, which also included You’ve Got A Friend.
The tune is in 3/4 time and is mostly strummed in a basic style similar to what he does in Sweet Baby James, but includes a couple of the classic fills he uses on A chords in particular. This is a great starting point for his songs.
Lesson 4: Mexico
Mexico was the lead track on James Taylor's 1975 album Gorilla. It has a happy-go-lucky feel extolling the praises of the country as if he were reliving great memories of times spent there. By the end we realize he is just wishing he could visit sometime in the future. Like many of his tunes, it features a distinctive and catchy intro, which is heavily syncopated and will be a challenge for most guitar students to master. His accompaniment techniques also use some of his signature fingerpicking patterns and percussive playing.
The song is played with a capo at the second fret and has sections in three different keys. The lesson is very detailed and shows many of the types of variations Taylor plays, particularly in live performances, but the student is encouraged to start with specific examples, experiment with their own variations, and play it freely and slightly different every time.
Lesson 5: Copperline
James Taylor's 1991 album New Moon Shine opened up with another one of his songs based on childhood memories in North Carolina. Copperline conjures up images similar to Carolina In My Mind and Sweet Baby James, to name just two. The song includes one of his signature accompaniment styles that we might even consider frailing, to borrow a term from the banjo world. James uses the thumb for bass notes and brushes lightly with the fingers on the middle and higher strings.
The lesson includes all the parts and goes over some of the unorthodox left hand fingers that he uses commonly. One of these is important to getting the right sound with a hammer-on into the D chord when coming from a Bm7. Otherwise, we find a lot of typical James Taylor moves and chords, as well as a capo at the second fret.