STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
It’s been decades since American music legend Livingston Taylor first stepped into the spotlight. His 1970 self-titled debut featured the song “Carolina Day” and set the stage for one of music’s most engaging singer songwriters, poets and educators.
Excelling at a variety of musical genres, including folk, pop, gospel and jazz, Taylor has captured the hearts of a global audience with the top-40 hits “I Will Be in Love with You,” “I’ll Come Running,” “I Can Dream of You” and “Boatman.”
As a follow-up to last year’s “Blue Sky” album, Taylor is planning his next release.
“I’m out to make a record with a dear friend of mine, a guy by the name of Shelly Berg, who is the Dean of the Frost School of Music down in Miami, Florida,” says Taylor, while on tour in Baltimore, Maryland. “Shelly and I are working on a record that I’m calling “Songs That Our Parents Sang Too Loud.” It’s all that great pre-1960 work, “Never-Never Land,” “Where Is Love,” “Rainbow Connection,” “Penny Lane,” “It Might As well Be Spring,” “On The Street Where You Live,” “Put on a Happy Face” and “All The Things You Are.” I hope to record in late summer and release it in the fall. We’ll see what happens.”
The consummate live performer, Taylor, who remains a steady concert draw, has shared the stage with music luminaries Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Buffett and Jethro Tull. His engaging presence, showmanship and musically creative execution still resonates with his fans, both young and old.
“I think people are relaxed in my presence,” says Taylor. “I think they’re glad to see me again. I was never so good looking that I had a lot of real good looks to lose. So my getting older means less. The loss of youth for me is less acute because I didn’t have that much youth to lose. People enjoy the fact that I enjoy them so much. If I look in the mirror, it’s clear to me that glitz is not going to be a viable option.”
“For me, live performing has always been heaven,” adds Taylor. “I love playing live. I’ve done it forever. I love the adventure of being on the road, going to new places. I enjoy performing far more than when I was younger. I love the colors that I have on a palette now after a lifetime of studying music. I can go in all imaginable directions. I have a wonderful thing to show an audience, having studying the craft for a lifetime. It is a great honor to be on stage.”
Taylor, a full professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston since the late 80’s, has been responsible for touching the lives of numerous aspiring young artists with his popular “Stage Performance” class. His book, by the same name and released in 2011, has expanded his audience.
Taylor is quick to recognize the harsh realities of technological advances and the impact on the art of making music. The paltry revenue streams from recorded music now find artists taking to the road in order to survive.
“We’ve come to a time where the Internet transfer of digital creativity is unlimited,” says Taylor. “This requires an adjustment in thinking. With digital creativity, it’s absolutely impossible to control distribution. I’m more than happy to get my music out there in whatever capacity I can, but you’re selling thousands of copies doing that, and that’s nice, but you’re not selling hundreds of thousands of copies. As a result, you’re always competing with music that was made during the era of controllable distribution, and you can’t compete with that. You can’t compete with Steely Dan, The Eagles, Yes or all of the artists that came out in the last 50 years.”
“You have to have a mind set that you’re on the drift,” adds Taylor. “That you’re out there to see your audience. That you need your audience. Your audience does not need you. To find them means that you’ve found the salvation that an audience delivers. That certainly makes the travel for me all worthwhile. It’s been a wonderful career and a wonderfully adventurous life. I’m very blessed by all of that I’ve been able to do and very enthusiastic about it.”
IF YOU GO: Livingston Taylor performs at the Colonial Theater, located at 227 Bridge St. in Phoenixville, Saturday May 30 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the Colonial Theatre Box Office by calling 610-917-1228 or online at www.thecolonialtheatre.com. All ages are welcome at the Colonial.
To stay up to date with Livingston Taylor, visit www.livtaylor.com.