Taylor at the Broward Performing Arts Center, November 2006
November 21, 1950 |
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
|Origin||Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.|
|Genres||Folk, pop, gospel|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, Singer-songwriter, Performer, Professor|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, piano|
|Labels||Capricorn, Epic, Chesky|
|Associated acts||James Taylor, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Karla Bonoff, Jonathan Edwards, Tom Rush|
Livingston Taylor (born November 21, 1950) is an American singer-songwriter and folk musician. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, he is the brother of singer-songwriter James Taylor, singer-songwriter Kate Taylor, musician and older brother Alex (d. 1993), and innkeeper and singer Hugh Taylor. With a career reaching the fifty year mark in 2017, Taylor is most notable for his Billboard hits “I Will Be In Love With You”, “First Time Love”, and “I’ll Come Running”.
He continues to perform over 75 shows a year, nationally and internationally, having shared the stage with performers such as Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Buffett, and Jethro Tull. In addition, he has been a faculty member at Berklee College of Music since 1989.
Early Life and Education
Taylor was born to parents Isaac M. Taylor and Gertrude "Trudy" Taylor in Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up in North Carolina when his father, a physician, accepted a position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was the fourth of five children, his siblings being Alex (1947–1993), James (born 1948), Kate (born 1949), and Hugh (born 1952).
Taylor credits his eldest brother, Alex, for inspiring him, at age 13, to be a musician after Alex returned home one evening having earned $20 performing at a fraternity party. Livingston picked up the guitar and became quite accomplished by age 17.
The Taylor family started vacationing on Martha's Vineyard in the early 1950s and Livingston has spent every summer there. His parents bought a home there in 1963 and in 1977, Livingston purchased his own 300-square foot home on the Vineyard for $111,000. He refers to the small home - that sits near a freshwater pond - as "The Camp".
Taylor was one of the first artists to sign with Capricorn Records in 1970. His debut album, Livingston Taylor, was produced by Jon Landau (who would later produce Bruce Springsteen) and included the song "Carolina Day". "Carolina Day" - which includes references to his sister, Kate, and brother, James - peaked at #93 on the Billboard Top-100 chart. The debut album included ten originals written by Taylor and one cover: "Six Days on the Road" penned by Earl Greene and Carl Montgomery. In his review for AllMusic, Joe Viglione wrote: "The seeds of future work are here, and Livingston Taylor is a nice start to the singer's interesting career".
The following year, Taylor's second album, Liv, also on Capricorn Records and produced by Landau, was released. It included the song "Get Out of Bed" which peaked at #97 on Billboard. Once again, Joe Viglione penned the AllMusic review, stating that "Get Out of Bed" "is a brilliant and exciting slice of pop music" and that "with the understated production of Jon Landau, Livingston's beautiful heartfelt vocals make this an extraordinary work of art." 
Taylor's third and final album on Capricorn, Over the Rainbow was released in 1973 and features guest vocalists James Taylor and Carly Simon on his original "Be My New Horizon". In her album review, Denise Sullivan wrote that the title track was "an inspired vocal version" of a song that has been interpreted by many others.
Sample of Livingston Taylor's "I Will Be in Love with You", originally recorded for Three Way Mirror. The song peaked at #30 on the Billboard charts on January 6, 1979.
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Taylor left Capricorn Records and released the first of two albums on Epic Records, Three Way Mirror, in 1978. The album featured "I Will Be In Love With You" and "Going Round One More Time," a song that was later recorded by his brother James Taylor in 1985. Taylor promoted the album when he toured with Linda Ronstadt as her opening act.
In 1980 Taylor released his second album on the Epic label, Man's Best Friend, which was produced by John Boylan and Jeff Baxter. The album contained the songs: "First Time Love," and "Pajamas" (sometimes known as "I've Got My Pajamas On"), which was later adapted into a book for children written by Taylor and his wife, Maggie. In his album review, Joe Viglione wrote that "Man's Best Friend boasts superb musicianship, high production values, good song selection, beautiful vocal performances from Livingston Taylor, and an impressive cast of guest stars who do not get in the way of the singer/songwriter". Guest vocalists included Carla Thomas and Don Henley.
In 1984, Taylor hosted a nationally syndicated television show, similar to American Bandstand called This Week's Music. In some markets the show aired 5 days weekly. Musical guests included Paul McCartney and Jon Bon Jovi.
Taylor's one album on the Sony Records label, Life Is Good, was produced by Artie Traum and Scott Petito and released in 1988. "The tribute to Louis Armstrong is an essential element of Taylor's ability to put together albums that are extraordinary in their perfection."
In 1988, Taylor's first of two children's books, Pajamas, co-written with his wife, Maggie Taylor was published by Harcourt (publisher). In her review for School Library Journal, Patricia Dooley wrote "If we knew the tune we could hum along: the lyrics of a children's song make up the text of this bedtime book. She goes on to say that the illustrator "Bowers has provided cuddly-looking acrylics, a smug little kid, and a passle of appealing stuffed animals."
Taylor worked with Traum and Petito again on the 1991 release Our Turn to Dance. In his album review, Jim Worbois wrote: "A talented songwriter in his own right (and most of the album is written or co-written by him) he's a good judge of other people's songs. Two fine examples are "No Easy Way to Break Somebody's Heart" by Barry Mann (Yup, the "Who Put the Bomp" guy) and the Jerome Kern classic "The Way You Look Tonight."
The second of Taylor's children's books, Can I Be Good? was published by Harcourt (publisher) in 1993. In her review for School Library Journal, Kate McClelland wrote that the book is "a rhyming story about a fully grown, high-spirited golden retriever who has trouble behaving." She goes on to say that illustrator Ted Rand "has caught this fractious dog's every mood-playfulness, boredom, shame, and remorse" and that the book is "unlikely to be a shelf-sitter."  Publishers Weekly also reviewed Can I Be Good?. Diane Roback and Elizabeth Devereaux wrote: "Children will see themselves in the gleeful activities of a golden retriever who finds that it's awfully hard to be good." They go on to say that "Taylor's rhyming prose snaps along merrily, upbeat in tempo yet tinged with wry melancholy that reflects the naughty dog's exasperation."
An album of live concert recordings, Unsolicited Material, again on the Chesky label, was released in 1994. The album "captured the warm-hearted fun of Taylor's concerts and ranged from humorous tunes including Andy Breckman's "Railroad Bill" and "The Dollar Bill Song," a medley of "Songs That Should Never Be Played on the Banjo," and the originals "Jacques Cousteau" and "I Hate Country Music" to heartfelt renditions of Hoagy Carmichael's "Heart and Soul" and Earl Scruggs' "Earl's Breakdown."
For his 1996 Chesky label release Bicycle, Taylor "assembled a diverse backing group (which features his brother James) and dug into a set of songs that were rootiser and more eclectic than much of his previous work". "Boatman" a song on the Bicycle album was later recorded by his brother James in 1997.
Ink, a collection of R&B cover songs, was released on the Chesky label in 1997. "Songs made famous by Ray Charles, The Jackson Five, and Stevie Wonder are re-imagined via the gentle, genial imagination of Livingston Taylor."
In 1998, an eighteen track retrospective of the first decade of Taylor's career, Carolina Day: The Livingston Taylor Collection was released. In 1999 a second live album Snapshot: Live at the Iron Horse was released.
After eleven years teaching at Berklee, Livingston wrote a textbook Stage Performance which was published by Pocket Books in 2000. "We acquired this book because we didn't feel the marketplace had a strong enough book on creating and maintaining a significant stage presence," says Tracy Sherrod, senior editor at Pocket Books. "Livingston Taylor is a true professional in this area, and we believe he has a lot to offer beginning performers and others in the business who want to take their careers to the next level." Stage Performance was Taylor's first book written for adults, having published two books for children earlier in his career. "Stage Performance is packed with information, ranging from practical discussion of contracts, production, and booking to such subjects as handling hecklers, performing under the influence, and dealing with bad reviews." A revised edition of the book was published in 2011.
From 2000 through September 2006, Taylor was artist-in-residence at Harvard University's Lowell House, "participating in House life and meeting with music students to listen, teach, and advise them on what it is to be involved in the creative arts."
A second retrospective was released in 2005 with 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Livingston Taylor.
In 2006 Taylor released his first studio album in nine years, There You Are Again. In his review, Hal Horowitz wrote: "The extended wait between albums has paid off in the immaculate production devoted to each song." Musicians include drummer Steve Gadd, keyboardist Matt Rollings, saxist David Sanborn, and bass player Leland Sklar. Taylor's brother, James, and sister, Kate, provide backup vocals on "There I'll Be". Additional backup vocals are provided by Vince Gill and Pam Tillis while former sister-in-law Carly Simon sings a duet with Taylor on "Best of Friends". Spiritual overtones are evident on two tracks: Andraé Crouch conducts the New Day Jubilee Gospel Choir on "Step by Step" and the a cappela choir Take 6 helps out on "Tell Jesus (To Come to My House)." In an interview with Christianity Today, Taylor was asked what his inspiration was for the song "Step by Step". Taylor responded: "I was lecturing high school students, which couldn't have been further away from the world where I came from. I was racking my brain as to how to get through to them and looked throughout the room to find a group of white students and then a core of African-American students all sitting together. I started talking about music as if they were ready to be in the music business. I told them before they got rich and famous, they'd have to be creative and take one step at a time towards it. I asked them, "Are you ready to take it step by step?" So with that desire to find a way to communicate across the broad gulf of age and culture, I created the song's main character - someone who loved getting in and out of trouble."
"Bouncy, bubbly, sometimes whimsical, but never pretentious, the album finds an established yet often overlooked veteran comfortable with his life and his art." 
In 2010 Taylor released Last Alaska Moon, produced by Glenn Rosenstein. Musicians include bassist Leland Sklar; drummer Steve Gadd; guitarists Vince Gill, Chris Rodriguez, and J.T. Corenflos; keyboardist Shane Keister, and vocalist Andrea Zonn. The album consists of ten originals plus two covers: “Answer My Prayer” with Carole Bayer Sager and Michael Jackson's “The Girl Is Mine” - a duet with nephew Ben Taylor. In his review, Thom Jurek wrote: " Zonn’s vocal contributions to these tracks -- she is on the vast majority of them -- cannot be understated." He went on to say: "Fans of Taylor will no doubt deeply enjoy this carefully crafted and artistically wrought collection." 
Four years later, Taylor released Blue Sky, a collection of both original songs and covers of some pop classics. One reviewer wrote: "He's had several moments of his brilliance over the years but the new album Blue Sky is really the standard bearer, the benchmark for his career" and "Track after track amazes". In particular, the reviewer commented on Taylor's cover of Laura Nyro's "Sweet Blindness" saying: "He does the song in a way I wouldn't expect and I'm not sure another voice could pull it off. But what's already a classic of American song becomes a definitive Livingston Taylor song in the process." Other cover songs include Steven Bishop's "On and On", and John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "Paperback Writer". In regards to the latter, the reviewer wrote: "Livingston makes the words and the story come alive in a way they haven't for me in years."
Career: 2017 (the 50th anniversary year)
The year 2017 marks Taylor's 50th year in the music business. To commemorate this milestone, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared January 18, 2017 to be Livingston Taylor Day in Boston. Taylor was recognized for his 50-year music career, as well as being a long-time professor at Berklee College of Music. That evening a party held at the Vorb Hotel in Boston was attended by friends and family including Taylor's sister, Kate, niece Sally Taylor, along with Sally's mother, long-time friend, Carly Simon, Don Law, and Norman Chesky.
Sample of Livingston Taylor's "I Must Be Doing Something Right", originally released on Our Turn to Dance in 1991 and re-recorded in 2017 for Safe Home.
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Two days later, Taylor announced the forthcoming release of Safe Home which was officially released on March 3, 2017. The album was recorded in an abandoned church in Brooklyn, New York with musicians Shelly Berg on piano, David Finck on bass, Bashiri Johnson on percussion and Chelsea Berry providing vocals. Like Taylor's previous album Blue Sky, Safe Home includes original songs as well as show tunes by Rodgers and Hammerstein and others. In his review of the album, Jason Warburg wrote: "That’s what the aptly-named Safe Home feels like: an impromptu after-dinner living room concert with Livingston Taylor and friends. Taylor’s voice has that rich, unique timbre of New England-by-way-of-North-Carolina that he and his brother James have made famous, lending both his vocals and his superb acoustic guitar picking a sense of instant familiarity and comfort." Cover songs include Paul McCartney's "Penny Lane", Irving Berlin's "Anything You Can Do" and the Everly Brothers "Bye Bye Love". Warburg wrote that the opening song, “I Must Be Doing Something Right”, a Taylor original, "has the timeless feel of a Cole Porter tune". In his review, Harris Fogel wrote:"this is a lovely collection of tunes, smooth, gentle, and relaxing. This is quiet, confident yet not showy musicianship. The guitar solos, the bass lines, vocals and percussion all work together to create a quiet intimate experience. Highly recommended for the Gentle and Loving People in Your Life."
Berklee College of Music
In 1989, Livingston received a call from Berklee Vice President Rob Rose, inviting him to teach a course focusing on stage performance. According to Berklee's online course description, Stage Performance Techniques 1 is "A lecture/demonstration course designed to provide knowledge and skills necessary for effective performance presentation: movement, microphone technique, stage dress, in-depth examination of causes and controls of stage fright, rhythm development and internalization, and professional attitude and development. Recommended for instrumentalists and vocalists interested in developing on-stage performance presentation skills."
Typically once a semester, Taylor invites a surprise guest lecturer for his students. Over the years, guest lecturers have included John Mayer, Jimmy Buffett, his brother James Taylor, and Steven Tyler. Students who have gone on to achieve some notoriety include Gavin DeGraw, John Mayer, and blues singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi. Charlie Puth is also a former student.
In 2003 Taylor ended a 25-year marriage to Maggie Taylor, with whom he had co-authored the 1988 children's book Pajamas. He has been a pilot for over 20 years, often making a 40-minute commute from Boston to Martha's Vineyard in his 1964 Cessna 205. He has maintained a close friendship with his former sister-in-law Carly Simon and the two have collaborated several times.
Year Title Record Label 2017 Safe Home Chesky 2014 Blue Sky 2010 Last Alaska Moon Chesky 2005 There You Are Again Chesky 2005 The Best of Livingston Taylor 2000 Live Wires (with Deborah Henson-Conant) Bose 1999 Snapshot: Live at the Iron Horse 1998 Carolina Day: The Livingston Taylor Collection 1997 Ink Chesky 1996 Bicycle Chesky 1994 Unsolicited Material 1993 Good Friends Chesky 1991 Our Turn to Dance Vanguard 1988 Life is Good Sony 1980 Man's Best Friend Epic 1979 Echoes Capricorn 1978 Three Way Mirror Epic 1973 Over the Rainbow Capricorn 1971 Liv Capricorn 1970 Livingston Taylor Capricorn
|2000||Stage Performance||Pocket Books (revised edition 2011)|
|1993||Can I Be Good? (illustrated by Ted Rand)||Gulliver: Harcourt Children's Books|
|1988||Pajamas (with Maggie Livingston; illustrated by Tim Bowers)||Gulliver: Harcourt Children's Books|
Awards and recognition
|2017||City of Boston||Livingston Taylor Day (1-18-17)|
|1989||Boston Music Awards||Outstanding Folk Album for Life is Good|
|1980||Billboard Top 40||"First Time Love" peaked at #38 (9-20-80)|
|1979||Billboard Top 100||"I'll Come Running" peaked at #82 (4-14-79)|
|1979||Billboard Top 40||"I Will Be in Love With You" peaked at #30 (1-6-79)|
|1972||Billboard Top 100||"Get Out of Bed" peaked at #97 (2-12-72)|
|1971||Billboard Top 100||"Carolina Day" peaked at #93 (2-13-71)|
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- McClelland K. Book review: Preschool & primary grades. School Library Journal [serial online]. October 1993;39(10):112. Available from: MasterFILE Main Edition, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 21, 2017.
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- Batdorf, Rodney. Livingston Taylor: Album Review. AllMusic.com. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
- AllMusicReview.Livingston Taylor: Album Review. AllMusic.com. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
- Waddell R. Livingston Taylor Shares Performance Insights In New Book. Billboard [serial online]. April 22, 2000;112(17):11. Available from: MasterFILE Main Edition, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 19, 2017.
- Barnes and Noble. Stage Performance by Livingston Taylor. Barnes and Noble.com. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
- Boyne, Dan. A Lesson with Liv. Harvard Magazine, November–December, 2006. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
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- Mayer T. Livingston Taylor to observe in Oriental. Sun Journal (New Bern, NC) [serial online]. March 2, 2006;Available from: Newspaper Source Plus, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 23, 2017.
- Argyrakis, Andy.Going Live with Liv.Christianity Today, February 13, 2006. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
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- Kat's Korner. Livingston Taylor brings the songs to life. Kat's Korner (Blog). May 11, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
- Globe Staff. Massachusetts honors Livingston Taylor with special day. Boston Globe, January 16, 2017. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- Pollack, Kevin. BWW Interview: Singer/Songwriter Livingston Taylor Chats New Album, Teaching & More. Broadway World, March 13, 2017. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
- Forsythe, Dana. Watertown resident Livingston Taylor reflects on 50 years in the music business. Watertown Wicked Local, January 11, 2017. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
- Warburg, Jason. Safe Home: Livingston Taylor. The Daily Vault, February 15, 2017. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
- Fogel, Harris. Review – Livingston Taylor “Safe Home” on Chesky Records. MAC Edition Radio, March 1, 2017. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
- Berklee College of Music.Stage Performance Techniques 1. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- Saldana, Hector. Intimate setting ideal for singer-songwriter Livingston Taylor. San Antonio Express News, August 9, 2017. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
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