James Taylor Talks About How Ethical Neil Young Is In The Music Business

James Taylor Talks About How Ethical Neil Young Is In The Music Business | I Love Classic Rock Videos

James Taylor live in 2020 - Kyle Davis / Youtube

They’ve graced stages together, their voices intertwining in timeless melodies. But beyond the shared musical journey, James Taylor and Neil Young share a deep respect, particularly for the latter’s unwavering integrity.

In a recent BBC documentary, Taylor offers a glimpse into why he considers Young “the ethical one”. Young, he explains, stands resolute against the allure of corporate influence. Unlike many artists who bend to the pressures of sponsorships and commercialization, Young remains fiercely independent, refusing to compromise his artistic vision for financial gain.

This unwavering stance, Taylor emphasizes, sets Young apart as a beacon of artistic integrity in a world often swayed by the bottom line. But Young’s ethical compass extends beyond his music. He champions various causes, lending his voice to environmental and social issues. This commitment to fighting for what he believes in further solidifies his reputation as a man who marches to the beat of his own drum, undeterred by external pressures.

“Neil will not have it”

Beyond their shared history as celebrated singer-songwriters, James Taylor and Neil Young possess a mutual respect rooted in a deep understanding of their respective artistic journeys. While their musical contributions are undeniable, Taylor holds Young in high regard for something even more fundamental: his unwavering artistic integrity.

In the said BBC documentary, Taylor shed light on Young’s uncompromising nature. “Neil will not have it. He simply won’t have it,” Taylor emphasized, referring to Young’s rejection of corporate sponsorships. Taylor contrasts this with the fate of other artists like Elvis Presley, “shellac-ed” and molded by commercial interests.

This unwavering stance against undue influence earns Young a powerful label in Taylor’s eyes: “the ethical one”. It’s a title that speaks volumes about Young’s dedication to his craft, prioritizing artistic autonomy over the allure of easy profit.

Taylor’s admiration underscores Young’s unique position in the music industry, standing as a beacon of unwavering commitment to his artistic vision.

Taylor contributed to Neil’s Harvest alongside Linda Ronstadt

The iconic 1972 album, Harvest, by Neil Young, boasts not only his own songwriting brilliance but also features the talents of two music legends: James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. Fate brought them together in Nashville, where they were recording for Johnny Cash’s TV show. This chance encounter marked a turning point, as Young enlisted many involved in Harvest, including producer Elliot Mazer.

Mazer, known for his collaborations with Bob Dylan and others, orchestrated the inclusion of Taylor and Ronstadt on two of the album’s most cherished tracks: “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man”.

While Harvest shines with numerous gems, including the introspective “The Needle and the Damage Done”, these two songs, enhanced by Taylor and Ronstadt’s vocals, arguably hold the most significant cultural impact.

Their contributions didn’t stop there. Young hired many of the Harvest crew members based on their work with Taylor and Ronstadt, demonstrating the profound influence this unexpected meeting had on the album’s creation.

“Both of these songs were beautiful”

Taylor’s presence on Neil Young’s “Old Man” extends far beyond backing vocals. His melancholic banjo adds a distinct layer to the song, echoing the spirit of the caretaker Young encountered while buying Broken Arrow Ranch.

Interestingly, Taylor later confessed that his “banjo” was actually a six-string guitar tuned like a banjo. He jokingly admitted it was “kind of cheating”, but the effect is undeniable.

The familiar instrument weaves a wistful tapestry, perfectly capturing the song’s contemplative mood. Beyond the technical details, Taylor recognized the song’s depth

In a 2018 interview on The Howard Stern Show, he reflected: “You know, ‘hit’, that’s very difficult to tell. Whether or not the record company will get behind it and release it as a single or… but I knew it was a great song, that both of these songs were beautiful.”