James Taylor was trending on Yahoo, and I clicked because I thought he’d died. Not that I want him to die, but famous musicians are dying fast this year (Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie) and I couldn’t think of another reason why James Taylor would be trending. Never did find out why he was trending — I got distracted by a link. I clicked the link, came back to Yahoo, and James Taylor wasn’t trending anymore. Below is the link that distracted me. Don’t feel like you need to click it right now. Do whatever it is you were doing, and just give it a good watch at some point. Here it is:
What struck me was not the song — which has caused me to grit my teeth or change the channel or fill my ears with sand for several decades now (because I can’t stand James Taylor). What struck me was the hair, the facial scruff, the sweater, and to a certain degree the collar. It all reminded me of someone else who’s music strikes me in the right place, who I almost never change the channel on. Someone I’ve written about before, here. This guy:
Cobain would have been just a little older in that picture from the early 1990s than James Taylor was in that video from 1970, when Taylor was 22. That’s what I found remarkable. The similarity of their appearance in youth, though separated in their youth by 20+ years. When you get to the Cobain video below, and you watch it (which I know you will do, because I know you so well), take a look at his eyes at around the 5:07 mark. Then go back to the James Taylor clip above and look at J-Tay’s eyes at around the 2:53 mark. Go ahead, do that now. I’ll wait.
*sips coffee, waits*
What do you make of that? Isn’t it fascinating?
I can’t imagine today’s 22-year-old writing or singing a song like the one James Taylor did. You might ague that the 22-year-old James Taylor was pretentious and didn’t really have it in him to write the song he wrote to begin with. You could argue that, but you’d be wrong, because he did. Today’s 22-year-old isn’t doing much of that kind of writing, pretentious or otherwise. The closest thing today’s 22-year-old’s have might be Lukas Graham, who’s 27, and who I don’t think comes very close, but you can decide for yourself right here:
Lukas Graham is a little older than Cobain was in the above, and Cobain was a little older than James Taylor was in the above-the-above. Plus, Lukas Graham is from Denmark, which makes him way older than today’s 22-year-old American, which is the 22-year-old I’m talking about, being an American myself.
The vibe of the songs is also worth a speak or two. The James Taylor vibe is a sort of laid-back but sad peace. The Cobain vibe is one of angst and tension, and kind of explodes into a raging pain at the end. Which is funny (not literally funny, but strange funny) because the James Taylor song makes me depressed, whereas the Cobain song liberates me, fills me with a sense of companionship, like someone gets me, like my feelings are felt by an ‘another’ who can bottle them, shake them, let them explode and be free and done. I’ve always related to Cobain. But I’ve always been put off by James Taylor. I find him depressing, and I don’t find Cobain depressing. I have no real opinion on Lukas Graham, I think I’m too old to care. That might make no sense, but it’s true for me. Others may find it crazy. Or me crazy. Maybe I am crazy. But for a moment tonight, while clicking on these silly links that distract us from real life, from love, from problems, and from having real thoughts, for a moment I was struck by James Taylor, and I almost came around.
But isn’t it fascinating, the differences? And the not-so-differences?
Check out the Cobain video below. Compare and contrast it with the James Taylor video above. What are the similarities? The differences? Is Taylor self-absorbed? Is Cobain pretentious and depressing? What is wrong with the world we live in, with the youth of today, if anything? What about the youth of yesterday? Is Lukas Graham older, wiser than Cobain? Than Taylor? Are today’s kids too young or too old? Feeling stupid, contagious? Have they seen fire, rain? Explain in the comments below.
Recommended reading: acousticguitar.com — what would kurt cobain be today