Carolina in My Mind
"Carolina in My Mind" James Taylor • "Carolina in My Mind" is a song written and performed by singer-songwriter James Taylor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which first appeared on his debut album. Living chaotically in various places, Taylor wrote "Carolina in My Mind" while overseas recording for The Beatles label Apple Records. The song references Taylor’s years growing up in North Carolina and the song’s themes reflect his homesickness at the time."
Taylor recorded from July to October 1968 at Trident Studios, at the same time The Beatles were recording The White Album. Paul McCartney and an uncredited George Harrison guested on the first version of "Carolina in My Mind" released as a single. The song earned critical praise but not commercial success. It was re-recorded for Taylor’s 1976 Greatest Hits album in the version that is most familiar to listeners.
"He started writing the song at producer Peter Asher’s London flat on Marylebone High Street, resumed work on it while on holiday on the Mediterranean island of Formentera, and then completed it while stranded on the nearby island of Ibiza with a Swedish girl Karin he had just met. The song reflects Taylor’s melancholy over missing his family and his state"
"In 1951, when James was three, the family moved to what was then the countryside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, when his father Isaac took a job as Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. They built a house in the Morgan Creek area off of what is now Morgan Creek Road, which was sparsely populated. James would later say, "Chapel Hill, the Piedmont, the outlying hills, were tranquil, rural, beautiful, but quiet. Thinking of the red soil, the seasons, the way things smelled down there, I feel as though my experience of coming of age there was more a matter of landscape and climate than people." James attended public primary school in Chapel Hill. Isaac Taylor later rose to become Dean of the UNC School of Medicine from 1964 to 1971. Taylor first learned to play the cello as a child in North Carolina, and switched to the guitar in 1960."
"Carolina in My Mind" is strongly associated with its geographical place and has been called an unofficial state anthem of North Carolina. More broadly, the song has been associated with The South.
Author James L. Peacock sees it akin to Stephen Foster’s "My Old Kentucky Home" and other songs and works of literature in establishing "the South’s sense of place". Recognizing the association with the state, the Chapel Hill Museum opened an ongoing exhibit "Carolina in My Mind: The James Taylor Story" in 2003 that includes memorabilia from Taylor’s years in the area and a video documentary."
"Carolina in My Mind" is also an unofficial song of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is played at athletic events and pep rallies, and is sung by the graduating class at every university graduation.
In October 2006, Taylor returned to the campus to receive the school’s Carolina Performing Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. Taylor said, "It’s strange but somehow compelling to come home and sing it. It draws a line through my own personal history and connects me again to a place that I go to in my dreams, a landscape that will forever be a part of me."
James Taylor’s music embodies the art of songwriting in its most personal and universal forms. He is a master at describing specific, even autobiographical situations in a way that resonates with people everywhere. For more than forty years Taylor has been a compass for his fans, articulating moments of pain and joy, and letting his listeners know that they are not alone.
In a career marked by artistic triumphs, the past few years for Taylor have been notable for both creative virtuosity and recognition of exceptional achievement. In 2012, Taylor was awarded the distinguished Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government and in 2011, was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House. Both medals are their nation’s highest honors for artistic excellence recognizing "outstanding achievements and support of the arts." In 2011, Taylor was also honored with a Carnegie Hall Perspectives series, which consisted of four concert evenings presented by Carnegie Hall and featuring Taylor and personally selected musical guests.
He has sold over 100 million albums throughout his career, beginning in 1968 when he was signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records. In 1971, Taylor was featured on the cover of Time magazine, heralded as the harbinger of the singer-songwriter era. Forty years later, his voice has been a constant in a changing world for his first generation of fans and their children. His songs have had a profound influence on songwriters and music lovers from all walks of life: "Fire and Rain," "Country Road," "Something in the Way She Moves," "Mexico," "Shower the People," "Your Smiling Face," "Carolina In My Mind," "Sweet Baby James," "Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," "You Can Close Your Eyes," "Walking Man," "Never Die Young," "Shed a Little Light," "Copperline," "Enough to be On Your Way," "Caroline I See You," and many more.
Taylor released his breakthrough album Sweet Baby James in 1970. It went triple-platinum and spawned his first top 10 hit, the intensely personal "Fire and Rain." The following year saw the release of another million-seller, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, with the No. 1 single "You’ve Got a Friend," written by his longtime friend Carole King. The recording won a Grammy Award in 1971 for Best Pop Male Vocal. The year 2000 saw Taylor’s induction into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences selected him as its MusiCares Person of the Year in 2006, and his One Man Band was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special.
James Taylor has received honorary doctorates of music from Williams College and the Berklee School of Music. Raised in North Carolina, he lives in western Massachusetts with his wife Caroline and their sons Henry and Rufus.
Over the course of his career, James Taylor has sold more than 40 million albums, and won more than 40 gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards as well as five GRAMMY® Awards. Taylor’s first Greatest Hits album earned him the RIAA’s elite Diamond Award, given for sales in excess of 10 million units in the United States. In 2000, Taylor was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In February 2006, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences named Taylor its MUSICARES Person of the Year. Taylor’s CD/DVD One Man Band (2007) was nominated for an Emmy and his 2008 album, Covers, was nominated for two GRAMMY® Awards.
Most recently, James Taylor has collaborated with Carole King on the CD/DVD package Live at the Troubadour which features 15 songs and 75 minutes of pristine video and audio, including stunning performances of the pair’s most beloved hits such as Carole King’s "So Far Away," "It’s Too Late," and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" as well as James Taylor’s "Fire and Rain," "Sweet Baby James," and "Carolina in My Mind"
"More than a song and more than a state of mind, James Taylor’s classic speaks to where we’ve been, where we are, and where we always want to be. North Carolina’s official state song, the five-verse power-rouser “The Old North State,” was adopted as such by the General Assembly of 1927. I’m sure “The Old North State” is a fine song. I’ve perused the lyrics: They defend the state against defamers, celebrate the inner beauty of Carolina girls, and employ the word “Hurrah!” 20 times, all things I am proud to put my support behind. So I mean no disrespect when I say this, but I have never in my life heard “The Old North State.” James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind,” on the other hand, has snuck into my ears at least a thousand times. It has followed me across the country for years like some nostalgic albatross, appearing when least expected. On car radios. At weddings. In grocery stores. On television shows. The thing is everywhere. And it’s beautiful, memorable, and finely wrought; and wistful, sweet, and haunting; and even a little dark at times. Just like our state. And, if it were up to me, it would be our official state song. Because when I hear “Carolina in My Mind,” Carolina actually is in my mind." • Nic Brown, Our State Magazine, "Carolina in My Mind"
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