Fire & Rain

“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain 
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end 
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend 
But I always thought that I’d see you again…..”

This Saturday evening, at Leeds’ First Direct Arena, those chorus lyrics from the refrain Fire & Rain were delivered to around 13,000 discerning punters by legendary US singer/songwriter James Taylor.

His re-assuring baritone voice whisking me, my brother Ian and son Jonny, who’d joined me in an enthusiastic Yorkshire crowd, back to countless evenings in the company of our dad (well, grandad in Jonny’s case). The patriarch who at various junctures introduced us to the wonders of JT’s music.

On my favourite day rhyming with Hatterday (but only cos there’s not a day called Fatterday), yours truly was serendipitous enough to witness live performances of this refrain, along with a host of other favourite anthems from the Bostonian’s burgeoning musical back catalogue.

The Fire & Rain chorus above resonating with me as a fairly accurate way of describing my existential plot line over the last decade. Times exposing me to both ends of the brio spectrum; although it’s fair to say the miserable episodes seemed to predominantly outweigh the good. Amongst those challenges losing both parents, suffering a heart attack, along with the collapse of a 30 year marriage.

However, yours truly every faith I’d emerge from under that s**t shroud. Recent months going a long way to indicate life’s on the up now I’m able to move on without the shackles which’ve hung millstone like for large swathes of my adulthood. As Taylor sings to his beau in ‘Fire & Rains’ chorus, it appears a faith I’d alway thought I’d see good times again are maybe at last bearing fruit.

Only time will tell if this fruit resembles the sweetest of Granny Smith apple juice; or that of a rancid bruised yield bearing the tartness of battery acid. That being said, my taste buds aren’t as sharp as they were prior to contracting Covid-19, so who knows I maybe able to tolerate the latter anyhow….. Oh, and I’m a lot stronger from living with enduring detritus, which also helps coping mechanisms.

I’m unsure where I’m going with this off-beat reverential critique of last Saturday’s top 3-4 hour entertainment in my home city. I certainly didn’t intend to start waffling on about apple metaphors when I parked my ever burgeoning butt onto this writing perch this morning.

Penning reviews of any entertainment genre is a rarity for GJ Strachan; but when I do proceed down this prose path I endeavour to avoid reverting to cliche. For instance, seeking adequately fitting words to describe JT’s guitar’s jocund sound – Aural bequeathals making maximum use of the arena’s excellent acoustics.

As I wandered out onto Claypit Lane at the gigs denouement, I suggested to my sibling and son that the buildings duomo can’t have heard a better sounding string instrument in its nine year history.

Between these glorious songs came James Taylor’s warm, whimsical, softly spoken verbal jousting with the audience. His refrain insights sporadically interspersed with the caterwauling of those feeling moved to tell their American idol how much they loved him.

Deference which was far more appreciated by JT than my inter-song cry of “Any chance you can pay my burgeoning electricity and gas bill, buddy!”…. That being said, I’d like to think he just didn’t hear me; and if had he’d be straight on the phone to British Gas with debit card in hand…… Probably not until the gig had finished though.

I’d strongly suspect James Taylor will sit with a long line of artists who’ll avoid paying utility bills mid-performance…… That being said, a scene of him performing refrains while on hold to utility companies (speakerphone turned on) does paint a wonderfully jocular vision in my mind….. Sadly, though, it’ll never catch on.

Yes, in last decade I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,  but through positivity, no longer mixing with toxic people and multiple nights like last Saturdays shin dig at the fd arena, I’m seeing good times again.

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