Country Road (song)
|Single by James Taylor|
|from the album Sweet Baby James|
|Genre||Folk rock, country rock|
|James Taylor singles chronology|
"Country Road" is a song written and performed by James Taylor. It appears on his 1970 second album, Sweet Baby James. The song references Somerset Street in Belmont, Massachusetts, a wooded road running adjacent to the land owned by McLean Hospital, where Taylor had committed himself in 1965 to receive treatment for depression. "Country Road" reached number 37 on the Billboard pop singles chart in early 1971. It is also featured on James Taylor's 1976 Greatest Hits record. The song has been played at most of his concerts since 1970. Randy Meisner, later of The Eagles, played bass on the album version.
According to Taylor's friend Danny Kortchmar, "Country Road"
captures the restless, anticipatory, vaguely hopeful feeling that playes a large part on James' character and appears in "Carolina in My Mind," "Blossom" and "Sweet Baby James." The road leads away from his ensnaring family: "Mama don't understand it/She wants to know where I've been/I'd have to be some kind of natural-born fool to want to pass that way again." It also takes him away from shattered affairs, prep schools, mental institutions — all manner of traps and bummers. At the end of the road lie freedom and ideal life in Carolina, and "a heavenly band of angels.
Author James Perrone describes the theme of "Country Road" to be the happiness and freedom of being alone. He further notes that the theme of solitude appears on other songs on Sweet Baby James, including the title track and "Sunny Skies." "Sunny Skies was also released as the b-side of the "Country Road" single. According to Allmusic critic Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., "Country Road" "perfectly marked the transition between the '60s and the '70s." This is because the lyrics suggest that it's time for those tired of trying to solve all the world's problems to leave them to Jesus and go away on their own. Lankford finds the song's "simple arrangement," with acoustic guitar and "laid back" vocals, well matched to the lyrics. Music author Barney Hoskyns called "Country Road" "a perfect distillation of the new rural mood" that had become popular at the time.
- Al Kooper on his 1970 album Easy Does It
- Maynard Ferguson on his 1972 album M.F. Horn Two.
- Alex De Grassi (instrumental) on his 1998 Alex de Grassi's Interpretation of James Taylor
- Crouse, T. (February 18, 1971). "The First Family of the New Rock". Rolling Stone Magazine. p. 34.
- Perrone, J.E. (2012). Perrone, J.E., ed. The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations. ABC-CLIO. p. 71. ISBN 9780313379062.
- Lankford, Jr., R.D. "Country Road". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-11.
- Hoskyns, B. (2010). Hotel California: The True-Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends. John Wiley & Sons. p. 109. ISBN 9781118040508.
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