The Words and Music of James Taylor

by James E. Perone


American musical icon James Taylor overcame initial failure and drug addiction to become one of the most recognizable and beloved musicians of the past 50 years.

Print Flyer
Cover image for The Words and Music of James Taylor

November 2017


Pages 150
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts
  Popular Culture/Icons and Celebrities

A valuable resource for James Taylor fans and a fascinating read for anyone interested in autobiographical popular music of the past 50 years.

What kinds of unusual musical forms and lyrical structures did American singer-songwriter James Taylor incorporate into his songs? What role did Taylor play in the introspective singer-songwriter movement of the 1970s? How did Taylor write and record songs that were inspired from his own experiences in life that touched so many other people?

The Words and Music of James Taylor explores these specific topics and provides detailed critical analysis of the songs and recordings of this well-known musical icon, examining his melodic writing, his use of harmony, and his often-unappreciated tailoring of musical form to enhance his lyrical messages. The book is organized chronologically, primarily around Taylor's studio albums from 1968 to 2015, and offers an introduction, a summary of Taylor's career and importance, as well as an annotated bibliography and discography.

The final section of the book presents an overview of Taylor's importance and lasting impact, an analysis of themes that run through his songs, and an explanation of how Taylor's treatment of these themes changed over the years as he matured and as the world around him changed.


  • Pairs critical analysis of every significant composition and recording by James Taylor with historical perspective on the events of his 50-year life journey
  • Ties Taylor's highly publicized struggles with drugs and in relationships to his songs
  • Delves into the not-frequently discussed musical aspects of Taylor's writing, including his use of unusual musical forms
  • Examines Taylor's arrangements and recordings of cover songs as essentially examples of re-writing the songs
Author Info

James E. Perone, PhD, is associate dean of the faculty and the Margaret Morgan Ramsey Professor in Music at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, OH. He holds degrees in music education, clarinet performance, and music theory from Capital University and the State University of New York at Buffalo. Perone is also active as a clarinetist, saxophonist, and bass guitarist, and he is the author of numerous articles, reference books, and critical analyses of popular music and musicians. Among his previous Greenwood and Praeger books are Songs of the Vietnam Conflict, Music of the Counterculture Era, The Words and Music of Melissa Etheridge, The Words and Music of Elvis Costello, and Smash Hits: The 100 Songs That Defined America. Perone serves as series editor of The Praeger Singer-Songwriter Collection.



"Perone is familiar with the numerous studies of Taylor's recordings and musical life, and with this volume and others in the series, he adds significantly to the literature on popular musicians since the late 1960s. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers."Choice

Recommended for Community College, 2018Choice

Look Inside

Other Titles of Interest

The Words and Music of Van Morrison cover imageThe Words and Music of Joni Mitchell cover imageThe Words and Music of Paul Simon cover image
The Words and Music of Melissa Etheridge cover imageThe Words and Music of Alanis Morissette cover image

Product Search

Product Search

Publication Year



Need Help? Try our Search Tips