The Story Behind James Taylor’s Song For Joni Mitchell
James Taylor performing Fire and Rain in 1970 - DavidFarAndWide / Youtube
Joni Mitchell started dating James Taylor in 1970, before breaking up a year later. In terms of creativity and worldview, they were in the same air, which made these like-minded souls develop a relationship much deeper than the surface level.
After more than half a century, Taylor and Mitchell are still best buddies. Mitchell utilized Taylor as creative inspiration for her song “See You Sometime,” from the album For the Roses (1972). In the meanwhile, the song “You Can Close Your Eyes” is often considered to be Taylor’s finest creation, and was also written during their brief time together.
Taylor played guitar on the Blue songs “California,” “All I Want,” “Carey,” and “A Case of You.” Meanwhile, he kept his creative juices flowing by working on his third studio album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, in addition to arranging and performing Mitchell’s songs. Inside one of its album tracks “You Can Close Your Eyes,” Taylor reassures his girlfriend while she’s feeling down.
Although Taylor never elaborately confirmed that the song was about Mitchell, it’s quite obvious that the song was about hers. Written around the time when the couple went to New Mexico for Taylor’s acting debut, this tranquil song came one night in his mind while he was staying in his Albuquerque hotel room.
“It’s a very unconscious process – writing songs, to me,” Taylor said via Top 2000 A Gogo in 2007. “They happen. I’m grateful when they do, they come through me, but I have no real direction of it. I just make songs that I want to hear, I make music that I want to hear.”