Fire and Rain: The Back Story

24 07 2013

James+TaylorBack in the late 1960′s a talented singer-songwriter from the East Coast was struggling to find his place in the world as well as the entertainment business.  He had a band named The Flying Machine.  He moved to New York City.

Like so many young and successful musicians, he was surrounded by the trappings of “the life.”  Frenetic existence, pushing and clawing to make make a name and a statement with his art, and drugs.  The latter, coupled with depression, snared him in a bad way.  He said, “I learned a lot about music and too much about drugs.”

He sought help at a drug rehabilitation center in Massachusetts for his heroin dependance and depression.  While there he befriended a girl named Suzanne.  The friendship was, alas, short-lived as Suzanne committed suicide.  This marked him deeply and he wrote a moving chronicle of the period, “Fire and Rain.”

James Taylor eventually got free of drugs and his art is better than ever.  Sometimes it helps to know the background of a song, the circumstances that give it birth.  Context is all.  It is a remarkably frank plea of someone looking for help when life and dreams have been shattered.  Here it is:

                            Fire and Rain

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you, baby, one more time again, now

Thought I’d see you one more time again
There’s just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I’d see you, thought I’d see you fire and rain, now.

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