James Taylor spoke with Andy Welch of the Flintshire Chronicle recently about the UK release of Covers. Nothing really new but it’s a good article. At one point refers to his cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River” and his collaboration with Carly Simon on the cover of “Mockingbird”.
“We recorded 20 songs for the sessions, which we did live,” he begins.
“It’s relatively rare to do things like that these days, you get used to over-dubbing, but for Covers we had 12 musicians into a room and just recorded it.
“We went at it hammer and tong and just cut as many songs as we could in 10 days.”
“Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd’s Knock On Wood and Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran are all songs that have a life on the road, but we’ve never recorded,” he explains.
“They’re the kind of things we play for encores in order to keep people on their feet at the end of a show.
“We went in knowing we had these arrangements and burned through that group of 10 or so songs relatively quickly. Then someone would say ‘Let’s try this, let’s try that’ or ‘I’ve always liked this tune’, and that’s basically it.”
“First of all you’re usually choosing songs that you love or were really well recorded,” James says.
“If the original was great, you’re not trying to improve on it, just approach it from a different angle and make the song your own.
“I’ve always cut covers and basically the process has been the same. I’ll live with the song for a while and work up an arrangement on the guitar, add changes and make a lot of substitutions.
“Often I’ll change the whole shape of it, too. When I did Joni Mitchell’s song Wish I Had A River I changed the whole shape of it, and when I re-cut Mockingbird for an album of Carly’s, whenever that was, in 1903 or something, I wrote an extra verse,” he says, referring to ex-wife and Bond-theme singer Carly Simon.