Kirkus Reviews
(October 7, 1999)
Fire and Rain:  The James Taylor Story
by Ian Halperin

The turbulent life, loves, and career of pop star
James Taylor. With such classic hits as ``You've Got
a Friend,'' ``Carolina on my Mind,'' ``Handyman,''
``Mexico,'' and ``Fire and Rain,'' the venerable
Taylor has been one of popular music's biggest
stars since the late '60s, when he went to England to
begin his recording career. As Halperin shows
repeatedly, Taylor, who battled an addiction to
heroin and other drugs for years, has not had an
easy time of it. His story, however, hardly starts out
as the saga of a tortured artist. He was born to
Isaac and Trudy Taylor, a happy, loving couple who
lived in an upper-middle-class region of
Massachusetts, waiting to occupy a great deal of the
biographers time. Halperin contends that the
younger Taylor's self-destructive habits were inherited
by the men in his family (James's older brother,
Alex, also suffered from a heroin addiction, which
eventually killed him). Halperin, glossing over
Jamess normal teenage angst and his isolation from
other young people, also makes a case, a much
stronger one, that James began his descent into
addiction when Isaac began to withdraw from his
family. Whatever their cause, Jamess feelings of
alienation would lead him into a mental hospital
during his late teens. Even after Taylor's first taste of
success, with 1970's Sweet Baby James, which landed
him on the cover of Time in 1971, he would
slip back into battles with drugs and alcohol.
According to Halperin, those consistent transgressions
into his old ways, together with their mutual
jealousies, eventually destroyed his marriage to fellow
pop star Carly Simon. Despite the amount of time
Halperin spends on Taylor's considerable
difficulties, the affection he has for Taylor's
music, best exhibited by the interviews with fans that are
scattered throughout the book, shines throughout.

-- Copyright 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP.
All rights reserved.

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