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Film Sings About America's Troubadours

Documentary offers a fresh, personal look at James Taylor, Carole King, other singer-songwriters

Even Steve Martin readily agreed to participate. "Steve doesn't do a whole lot of things like this," says Neville — yet he said 'yes' right away. "People forget that he, too, came out of the Troubadour scene of that time as both a musician who played the banjo and a comedian. As someone who was accustomed to performing solo, he said it was the only time in his life when he really felt part of a scene. It was at the Troubadour that his multitalented career really took off."

The clip of James Taylor playing "Fire and Rain" at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1969 is seen here for the first time. "Even James hadn't seen the clip before. Finding this video deep in the music archives was like finding a gold nugget. James had written the song only two weeks before. He hadn't even recorded it yet; the song wasn't recorded until December of 1969, for his album Sweet Baby James. 'Fire and Rain' at Newport is the moment where you see his songwriting and musicianship take a quantum leap. I let it play in its entirety because editing it would have felt like cheating."

Carole King wrote "So Far Away" for her own reasons — but everyone identified with it, including her daughter. "One of my favorite scenes is when Carole's daughter, Sheryl [one of Carole's four children], talks about what that song meant to her, and how much she missed her mother when she was on the road touring. I have my own interpretation of what that song's about, and everybody else has theirs. In making this film, I felt like I'd already finished half the race before I'd even begun: The music just takes you so far."

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100 Must-See Movies for Grownups

100 Must-See Movies for Grownups

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January 2015


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