James Taylor Network
Fan community dedicated to singer/songwriter James Taylor.
James Taylor Network
Fan community dedicated to singer/songwriter James Taylor.
Charity / Variety Club benefit / Videos

Touring artists performing benefit concerts can do their standard gig, raise some money and blow right back out of town. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Or they can dig a little deeper and do what James Taylor did at the Peabody Opera House on Saturday night as the headliner for the Variety Club’s annual Dinner with the Stars benefit.

Taylor stopped twice during the show to speak movingly of the charity and its work. “It’s so inspiring to meet all the people involved and to see such an earnest and real outpouring of concern,” he said. “The parents here are the real heroes.”

Later, he went even further, bringing the Variety Children’s Chorus out for the show’s finale, which included a singalong of his hit “Shower the People.”

The rest of Taylor’s performance was special in that it featured the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer singing with a new mostly acoustic configuration of his band, which featured luminaries Dean Parks on guitar and Russ Kunkel on percussion. “This is like a chamber orchestra phase,” he joked at one point.

Of course, hushed, laid-back arrangements are the perfect setting for many of Taylor’s classic songs, and, after opening with the folk song standard “The Water Is Wide,” he delivered one after another, including “Secret o’ Life,” “Carolina in My Mind” and “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.”

The intimate mood of the show led Taylor to tell a few stories. He recounted playing “Something in the Way She Moves,” to audition for Paul McCartney and George Harrison,” which made him “nervous as a Chihuahua on methamphetamine,” he said.

McCartney liked the song so much that he signed him to the Beatles’ Apple Records, Taylor said. “George liked it so much, he went home and wrote it himself,” he cracked, referring to the first line of Harrison’s “Something.”

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