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Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Story Paperback – August 9, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (August 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840187905
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840187908
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,372,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Considering the drama in folksinger Taylor's life, this biography is curiously dull. Taylor was born into an affluent but dysfunctional family and spent his teen years on drugs, suicidal, and in and out of psychiatric hospitals. The only connection he could seem to make was with his music. But he made it big at the age of 22Awhen he was on the cover of TimeAand went on to become the hottest singer-songwriter of the 1970s. After falling into and out of love with Joni Mitchell, he married Carly Simon (also a complex and driven personality). The marriage was marred by Taylor's drug use and the infidelities of both spouses, and they eventually divorced. Though there are some interesting revelations here, Halperin's (Who Killed Kurt Cobain?) writing style is not engaging; the book reads like a compilation of old magazine articles. Interviews and quotes are used too liberally, giving the text a tabloid quality. Buy where demand warrants.ARosellen Brewer, Monterey Bay Area Cooperative Lib. Syst., Pacific Grove, CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

The turbulent life, loves, and career of pop star James Taylor. With such classic hits as ``You've Got a Friend,'' ``Carolina on my Mind,'' ``Handyman,'' ``Mexico,'' and ``Fire and Rain,'' the venerable Taylor has been one of popular music's biggest stars since the late '60s, when he went to England to begin his recording career. As Halperin shows repeatedly, Taylor, who battled an addiction to heroin and other drugs for years, has not had an easy time of it. His story, however, hardly starts out as the saga of a tortured artist. He was born to Isaac and Trudy Taylor, a happy, loving couple who lived in an upper-middle-class region of Massachusetts, waiting to occupy a great deal of the biographers time. Halperin contends that the younger Taylor's self-destructive habits were inherited by the men in his family (James's older brother, Alex, also suffered from a heroin addiction, which eventually killed him). Halperin, glossing over Jamess normal teenage angst and his isolation from other young people, also makes a case, a much stronger one, that James began his descent into addiction when Isaac began to withdraw from his family. Whatever their cause, Jamess feelings of alienation would lead him into a mental hospital during his late teens. Even after Taylor's first taste of success, with 1970's Sweet Baby James, which landed him on the cover of Time in 1971, he would slip back into battles with drugs and alcohol. According to Halperin, those consistent transgressions into his old ways, together with their mutual jealousies, eventually destroyed his marriage to fellow pop star Carly Simon. Despite the amount of time Halperin spends on Taylor's considerable difficulties, the affection he has for Taylor's music, best exhibited by the interviews with fans that are scattered throughout the book, shines throughout. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ian Halperin is also a former winner of the Rolling Stone magazine Award for Investigative Journalism. He is the author or coauthor of five books, including the bestsellers Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Story, and Celine Dion: Behind the Fairytale, as well as a number of exposes on the modeling industry. He coauthored Who Killed Kurt Cobain? with Max Wallace. Ian is a regular correspondent for Court TV and has contributed to 60 Minutes 2.

Customer Reviews

If you're a JT fan or a music fan, this book is definitely for you.
Carl Parks
The whole thing was so bad, that I finally just skimmed through the last chapters because I was so incredibly distracted by the poor writing and ridiculous quotes.
Diane C. Dierks
I became annoyed at the lack of proofreading by the publishers (all kinds of grammatical errors and typos) and the inconsistant research.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The artist is richly deserving, but the book falls woefully short, to the point of irritation. It's filled with so many inexplicable flubs I found it insulting to someone of James Taylor's stature.
The first meeting between 13-year-old Taylor and long-time musical collaborator Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar describes Kootch as a "peace-loving hippie-type teenager." In 1961? Hello?
On a single page describing the failure of Apple records to adequately promote "James Taylor," JT's first album, the author writes "..."if Apple had been on more solid financial footing, Taylor's album would have received much more attention than it did." Two paragraphs later we read, "Taylor's album was destined for failure from the start because of Apple's financial troubles." One paragraph later we are informed that the album "was a disaster only because Apple Records did not spend enough money promoting it." Can you say redundant? Did anyone proof this puppy?
The first paragraph of Chapter 7 says Taylor's London phase began when he arrived in Great Britian "in March, 1968." The first paragraph of Chapter 9 says Taylor "returned to the United States in October 1968, after being in Europe for more than a year." Was there an editor involved here or what?
For so many of us, JT's music has been a touchstone in our lives...evocative, honest, evolving, poignant. His voice is richer than ever. His live concerts are legendary to this day. Perhaps at some point Taylor will make himself available for an authorized biography, absent the predictable focus on his love life, drug use and early episodes in mental institutions. I hope so. There's a story to be told here, but this attempt is sophomoric; simply not commensurate with one of the most thoughtful artists of our lifetime.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Daniel M Chadwick on July 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was drawn to this book entirely because of its subject matter. I have been a JT fan for well over twenty years and know his music extremely well. I approached this book with positive enthusiasm.
The whole book spends more time talking about the drug problems and sex parties than the music. Throughout the book, Halperin rightly stresses the importance of music in Taylor's life. However he spends virtually no time discussing the music or the lyrics, none of which are printed anywhere in the book. There's no discussion or analysis of the art that made the man. Halperin brushes over the releases of albums and sums them up in little paragraphs, sandwiched between cheesy gossip-column-like accounts of conversations to which he could never have been privy.
Halperin talks about a whole array of people in Taylor's life--parents, siblings, fellow artists, managers, wives, children--it makes the reader want to see pictures of them. The most important ones, save for Carly, aren't here. No childhood photos, no pics of old homes, no copies of scrawled lyrics. Rank amateur.
The book is generally favorable toward Taylor. If Halperin really wanted to show us James Taylor, he should have done his homework and immersed himself in the music. He even quotes James saying that if you want to understand him, all you had to do is listen to his music. It's all there.
Halperin is a hack. He's selling this schlock to buy a new Mercedes. I don't know of a good biography of James Taylor to recommend, but this, I can promise you, is not one of them.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James A. Barisano on January 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I got Fire and Rain as a Christmas present and immediately began to read it. From the start it was apparent that Ian Halperin had probably knocked this book off while on a weekend getaway...not to Martha's Vineyard. It is so poorly written that as much as I love JT's music and know a bit about him, I am having a hard time just reading the book. Throughout the book, Halperin infers motives and thoughts to JT's parents, friends, teachers and JT with little or no supporting information. He says that because JT's father, Isaac, took a job in the mid-sixties that kept him away for two years, Isaac and his wife got divorced in the late 70's...12 years later! (again, with no supporting information) One minute James is suicidal and so he checks into the hospital in Belmont, the next, he checked-in to avoid the draft. He refers to comments made by James' "burly attendant, Carl" with no last name. He jumps around chronologically constantly, causing confusion. He refers to JT's Silvertone guitar as a "Silverstone", mentions that James lived "IN Martha's Vineyard" not ON MV. How this guy got the contract to write this book I will never know! If his editor had just done some editing, the book had potential, but this book is not worth the star I had to give it to write this review. Somebody call Kensington Publishing and give them the bloody bad news! Everyone else...Save your money!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Dawson on December 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Despite a predisposition to enjoy Mr. Halperin's book (after all, I've been a fan of Mr. Taylor's for 20 years), I cannot escape the conclusion that the writing, research and organization of Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Story are undoubtedly the worst I have ever encountered. It is regrettable that the first biography of Mr. Taylor is such a hackneyed one.
To list all of the shortcomings of this biography would take far too long and be counterproductive. However, among the more significant errors in this book is the author's complete failure to actually research his subject in any detail using authoritative sources and then to cite those sources. For instance, in a contemptible effort to interpret the lyrics to the song Fire and Rain, Mr. Halperin points to the interpretation posed by several persons whose qualifications appear to be only that they are "big fans" of Mr. Taylor. In addition, Mr. Halperin never cites any of his sources, which precludes the reader from determining how the quote used falls in the context of time and place.
I will not recount the numerous typographical and factual errors contained in this volume, as other posters have already mentioned many of them.
In short, I do not recommend this book either to fans of good prose or of Mr. Taylor. Unfortunately, this book is equally embarrassing both to its author and to his subject.
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