James Taylor Songs Ranked

James Vernon Taylor (born March 12, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Taylor achieved his breakthrough in 1970 with the No. 3 single “Fire and Rain” and had his first No. 1 hit in 1971 with his recording of “You’ve Got a Friend”, written by Carole King in the same year. His 1976 Greatest Hits album was certified Diamond and has sold 12 million US copies. Following his 1977 album, JT, he has retained a large audience over the decades. Every album that he released from 1977 to 2007 sold over 1 million copies. He enjoyed a resurgence in chart performance during the late 1990s and 2000s when he recorded some of his most-awarded work (including Hourglass, October Road, and Covers). He achieved his first number-one album in the US in 2015 with his recording Before This World. He is known for his covers, such as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” and “Handy Man”, as well as originals such as “Sweet Baby James”. Here are all James Taylor songs ranked.

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20. Her Town Too (Dad Loves His Work, 1981)

“Divorce L.A. style with a lyric laudably sympathetic to the female point of view, in this duet written and sung by Taylor and sometimes Eagles collaborator J.D. Souther, indeed I think I can hear a touch of “New Kid In Town” which Souther also co-wrote, in the melody here. Recorded in typical Taylor fashion which means glossy acoustic guitars, twinkling electric piano and smooth harmonies, I’m just wondering what happened to the obligatory sax solo.”

19. Suite for 20 G (Sweet Baby James, 1970)

“Suite for 20 G is more like sunshine pop and even Psychedelic Pop, the Beatles, etc. at their softest, nice too. It has even this fierce funky rocky latter part.”

18. Copperline (New Moon Shine, 1991)

“In a very straightforward way the lyrics get to you and after few listens you may think these are actually “your stories and you life’s experiences”. Obvious highlight of the album is autobiographical “Copperline”

17. Steamroller Blues (Sweet Baby James, 1970)

“Taylor’s greatest album. An absolute masterpiece. If you ever want to learn how to waltz, do so listening to “Sweet Baby James”.

See more: James Taylor Albums Ranked

16. Caroline I See You (October Road, 2002)

“Of the more recent James Taylor albums – that’s including those since the late seventies 😉 this album is the most satisfying to me. The aura is that of reminiscence. JT had a lucky hand with the choice of songs and with the production (Russ Titelman). To check out what this means, check out the song Caroline I See You.”

15. Walking Man (Walking Man, 1974)

“Plenty of pleasing stuff here. It’s not great, but it’s better than this website would have you believe. Especially if you appreciate subtle harmonic and melodic touches, of which there are many, even if this record doesn’t represent the very best the artist has to offer in that regard.”

14. You Can Close Your Eyes (Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, 1971)

“You can close your eyes in itself is a sweet song love song but there is a sense innit of a waning love . All of these themes in James’ songs on here are accompanied by his calm vocals and beautiful guitar fingerpicking.”

13. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight (One Man Dog, 1972)

“This song is the kind of song that makes you want to lay on a hammock and forget about the world. James Taylor is so good at releasing great music, and this is him at his best”

12. How Sweet It is (To Be Loved by You) (Gorilla, 1975)

“When people remake other people’s songs, I can only hope that they either do it justice or do it so well they make it their own. When James released this song, he did it great justice. With this particular version, he made it his own!!!!

11. Handy Man (JT, 1977)

“Handy Man” is the epitome of bland, lifeless soft rock, released at a time when bland, lifeless soft rock was competing with processed disco cheese. In a pinch, I would take the processed disco cheese every time. Of all the soft rock progenitors, Taylor was the most consistently dire, owing to the adenoidal mewl he called a voice and his tendency to record pallid imitations of previous pop hits.”

10. Country Road (Sweet Baby James, 1970)

“This is a really good country pop sans singer songwriter track in fact maybe it is one of his best songs of all time. This is better then You’ve got a friend and Fire and Rain which I must say kind of sucks sometimes. This one does not suck to me, in fact it may be one of the best damn singles of 1970’s.”

9. Mexico (Gorilla, 1975)

“In hindsight, “Mexico” has a cheesy sound, especially with all of the marimbas coloring it, and I can see why people might find it to be an uninteresting song, considering that James Taylor’s vocals really aren’t that great. But I have always found this song so soothing, mostly because of him and his lazily relaxed, easy-listening voice.”

8. Secret O’Life (JT, 1977)

“This is the only James Taylor album that I own and it will most probably remain so in my record collection as its overall blandness and utter insignificance in my life preclude any attempt to further explore the artist’s discography.”

7. Your Smiling Face (JT, 1977)

“Actually quite hard to keep a smile from my own face whenever I hear this cheery, inoffensive love song which gallops out of the stalls with something approaching an electric guitar riff and settles down to a good-humoured canter from there on.”

See more: Carly Simon Albums Ranked

6. Shower the People (In the Pocket, 1976)

“Taylor and the whole laid-back LA scene aren’t really my thing but even I can’t deny this is a nice tune. Sure the lyric is pretty sappy but with new wife Carly Simon prominent on backing vocals and a typically pristine Waronker/Titelman production, it pours down like honey.”

5. You’ve Got a Friend (Tapestry, 1971)

“”You’ve Got a Friend” was about finding solace in one’s friends when one has no one left to turn to. The bridge was the real core of the song. James Taylor’s version shifts the weight to the chorus, adding in backing harmonies in order to create a more inviting spirit and a more sociable number. The backing choir is delicate and James Taylor’s voice is perfectly tender, but I do prefer the stronger pathos at the heart of Carole King’s version”

4. Something in the Way She Moves (James Taylor, 1968)

“The recording sessions were typical of the time and Taylor quickly fell back into his heroin habit. McCartney and George Harrison both guested on the album and music folklore suggests that ‘Something In the Way She Moves’ gave Harrison the starting point for his own similarly titled classic.”

3. Carolina in My Mind (James Taylor, 1968)

“This is the simplest most beautiful song he has sung in my opinion. My apologies to Sweet Baby James and Fire and Rain. Those are certainly deserving of #1 as well.”

2. Sweet Baby James (Sweet Baby James, 1970)

“A new decade, a new label and a new recording locale seemed to work wonders for James Taylor. This, the first single and title track from his debut Warner Bros album, sees him and producer settle into that easy-going west coast groove which to be honest he’s never really got out of ever since. At least it all sounds fresh here, halfway between a country ballad and a lullaby for his newborn nephew named after him.”

1. Fire and Rain (Sweet Baby James, 1970)

“This is one of the gems of soft rock. Feel the puny inspiration and get in touch with your inner mom. I mean that sincerely though. Sometimes you need to listen to hard heavy thick skinned music to give yourself strength, but sometimes it’s the tender songs like this that do the trick. Dig that bowed double bass line. I get a little bounce in my step when I hear that second verse come in with the line about Jesus because of the way he says it.”