So Warm and Engaging
While folk icon James Taylor and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir may initially have seemed like an unlikely pair, as we rehearsed and then performed with Mr. Taylor, what we truly had in common became apparent to me—we both sing music that speaks to the heart and real human experience. One could not listen to him without relating to his material and being moved by it, as I hope people are similarly moved when they hear the Choir sing.
People who love Taylor’s music come from all walks of life and from many backgrounds. Sitting in the lobby during our break before Friday night’s concert, I saw all kinds of people, some of whom one could safely bet had never been to the LDS Conference Center before, all brimming with excitement to see and hear James Taylor. On the other end of the spectrum, I will never forget the sight of a sixty-something usher, a rather Wasatch Front White Bread guest service sister missionary, who during the closed rehearsal beforehand could not restrain herself. When James Taylor began to sing, with obvious delight she unabashedly began to snap her fingers and dance.
Two of my friends' wives who came to the concert the first night both commented on the way home that they had never heard the Choir sound so light and young, and they remarked that we seemed to be having so much fun even though we studiously followed direction and did not move or dance in a way that might have been a distraction. But the impression that meant the most to me was the one that we obviously made on Taylor’s band, particularly his pianist. He was obviously moved the first time he heard the Choir’s acapella accompaniment of “Lonesome Road.” He beamed, smiled, clasped his hands in our direction, bounced his hat up and down on his head, and finally cried. I think that he was no doubt moved by the choir’ sound, but I suspect that he also felt something else, the spirit. As Mr. Taylor himself said, “That song died and went to heaven.”
We will all remember the rapturous way that Mr. Taylor was received each time he walked on stage or began to strum his guitar. I do not think that the Conference Center has ever heard such deafening ovations. But the image that will last the longest for me was one of the last from Saturday night’s concert: the sight of dozens, almost a hundred, cell lit cell phones being waved like lighters as Jim Taylor sang “Shower the People” and then “You’ve Got a Friend.”
Indeed, we have a new friend in Mr. Taylor, and I hope he knows that he has many new ones here in Utah.