Carole King, James Taylor: Together, 40 Years Later The two legendary songwriters recently reunited for the Troubadour Tour, named for the club in Los Angeles where they first performed together in 1970. They've also released a live album recorded at the Troubadour's 50th anniversary show, in 2007.
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Carole King, James Taylor: Together, 40 Years Later

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Carole King, James Taylor: Together, 40 Years Later

Carole King, James Taylor: Together, 40 Years Later

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.



Thinking back almost 40 years, to a needle dropping onto vinyl and this voice.

BLOCK: (Singing) I feel the earth move under my feet. I feel the sky tumbling down...

BLOCK: For me, it was Carole King first. James Taylor got me later.


BLOCK: (Singing) Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone. Susanne, the plans they made put an end to you...

BLOCK: Carole King and James Taylor were playing together on those albums from the early '70s - King on piano, Taylor on guitar. And now, they've reunited.

U: I love you guys.


BLOCK: We love you, too.

BLOCK: We do. We love you.

BLOCK: Honest to goodness.


BLOCK: They're near the end of a concert tour, filling arenas around the country. Carole King is 68 now. James Taylor is 62.


BLOCK: (Singing) He said good night you moonlight ladies. Rockabye sweet baby, James.

BLOCK: It's called "The Troubadour Tour," for the club in Los Angeles where Carole King and James Taylor first played together in 1970, and where they discovered just how well they blended.

BLOCK: It was an amazingly good fit. It just felt very familiar and as if we were twins separated at birth or something.

BLOCK: And I have to share with you. When James said that about, you know, separated twins, I just looked at him because I had just had that exact thought.


BLOCK: Because it is like when, you know, the blend that the Everly Brothers have, or family members who sing and play together. That's in their DNA. To our knowledge, we don't share DNA.


BLOCK: But it feels as if we do.

BLOCK: But we really do share very much a sort of musical vocabulary. Our tastes and tendencies, musically, are very parallel.

BLOCK: What is that vocabulary, do you think?

BLOCK: There's some things about it that you could you mention. We like the same kind of suspended chords. We have a similar way of sort of voice- leading. Given a melody line, we tend to harmonize in a similar way. We tend to, you know, there are a lot of suspended fourths that we like to use. It's just remarkable how in step we are.


BLOCK: Very much.


BLOCK: (Singing) Tonight, the light of love is in your eyes, but will you love me tomorrow?


BLOCK: Well, take me back 40 years to those first shows at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. You've talked before, James, about first hearing a song at the Troubadour that would become a huge hit for you - a Carole King song.

BLOCK: And as soon as I heard the tune - and I heard it the first time, I think, it was played in public - to me, it was so compelling musically I just - I had to play it. I had to get to a guitar. I was desperate to get to my guitar and just wander through those changes and sing that song.


BLOCK: (Singing) You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I'll come running to see you again...

BLOCK: And I wonder if you're thinking about the people in the audience, thinking back to the moments of their life where these songs were everything, where they really were the fabric of a certain point in their lives?

BLOCK: Ms. KING (Singing) And call my name out loud. Soon, you'll hear me knocking upon your door, your door, your door. You just call out my name and you know...

BLOCK: James, do you think about - sort of that shared experience, what people are thinking as they're listening to these songs again?

BLOCK: But when you go to a concert, that's time that you have put aside and focused on the music. And it really is a, you know, we joke and say, you know, to the audience, we're glad you came; it's not the same without you. But really, you know, it's like going to church for Carole and me. I mean, a lot of it is celebratory and some of it is, you know, irreverent and irrelevant. But it's very uplifting. And it's the thing that keeps you coming back, that keeps you, you know, on the road and touring.

BLOCK: And you have, playing behind you, three musicians who you call the original cast: Danny Kortchmar on guitar, Leland Sklar on bass, Russ Kunkel on drums; guys you were playing with back in 1970-'71. It must feel, I would think, like a backbone, knowing they're there after all this time, backing you up.

BLOCK: It's true. We worked for a decade, pretty much, with those guys. And, you know, Kooch(ph) and I got together - Danny Kortchmar and I got together. We met on the Massachusetts shore in, you know, 1962 or something, and were in our first bands together. So, for me to look over and see Kooch there is really just - it's a real parallax view, you know.

BLOCK: The rhythm section, too, I would think would be, just knowing that they're - that you know everything, I think, about what they can do, what they can do for you.

BLOCK: I'll tell you what Russ said to us one night. You know, he said listen, Lee and I are here. We're going to give you this rock-solid foundation. You just go do what you need to do, and we'll be there.

BLOCK: You know, it's true. It's a real reunion of Carole and me, and these three guys. It's so cool.


BLOCK: It's great. Anyway...


BLOCK: The night that I saw the show here in Washington, the song that you closed the set with, the final encore - you're sitting side-by-side. You were sorting of leaning against each other doing this just lovely duet of James Taylor, your song, "You Can Close Your Eyes."



BLOCK: And it's a magical moment.

BLOCK: It is for us, too, every single time.


BLOCK: (Singing) Well, the sun is surely sinking down, but the moon is slowly rising. So this old world must still be spinning around...

BLOCK: It's down in volume but so intense in emotion for me. But most, most of all, the people in the very highest-up, farthest-away seats, I can feel the energy with us right on stage. It is the most amazing phenomenon I've ever experienced.


BLOCK: It won't be long before another day, 'til we go and have a good time. No one's gonna take that time away. You can stay as long as you like.


BLOCK: (Singing) Close your eyes, you can close your eyes.

BLOCK: How did that song come about, James?

BLOCK: I wrote it in a hotel room somewhere outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was filming "Two-Lane Blacktop." Joni Mitchell was out, traveling with me. It just, it's one of those things that came really fast. The song showed up and just came through the guitar, out of my mouth really quick. It just was a gift. I love it when that happens. Carole's nodding at me.

BLOCK: I'm nodding because "You've got a Friend" was - came to me the same way, but I'm also - I actually am learning for the first time the genesis of that song, if you can believe that. As long as we know each other, I didn't know that. And to hear you say that, it's like knowing where your brain must have been when you were out there, you know, sort of alone. You were trying to put yourself to sleep.

BLOCK: Does it feel - you've done a number of these shows now, not just this year, but going back - I guess this started in 2007 at the Troubadour, for the reunion. Do you get a sense of an end point - that, okay, we've done this and it was wonderful, and now we're done, and it's time to move on?

BLOCK: Well, there is an end point. Our last show scheduled is July 20th in Anaheim and yeah, I mean, we knew that it had to be finite. I think a special thing stops being special when you go on doing it and doing it and doing it. It is going to be over.

BLOCK: You know, Carole and I talked about it a few times, and Carole said to me something I'll never forget. She said, you know, not only do you not want to stay too long at the ball for the audience, but you want - not only do you want to leave the audience wanting more, you want to leave yourself wanting more.

BLOCK: Well, Carole King and James Taylor, it's wonderful to talk to you, thanks.

BLOCK: You bet, thank you.

BLOCK: It's really, really been a pleasure.


BLOCK: (Singing) And if this old word starts getting you down, there's room enough for two up on my roof.

BLOCK: Carole King and James Taylor on tour, and with a new CD and DVD titled "Live at the Troubadour."

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