When I was a moody teenager I used to weepalonga James Taylor. It helped that I thought he was rather nice looking; yes, I felt his pain, although some of what he sang sounded a mite alien.
Spurred by a photo in Daniel Coston's book about North Carolina musicians, I have revisited his music in my mind and reassessed what I thought.
North Carolina is a huge state of great extremes. There is poverty here, and a recognisable working class, as well as a comfortable middle class that sometimes teeters on the edge; and of course, like just about everywhere, there are the mega rich who are completely oblivious to everybody else.
Here, there are huge skies that speak with charged emotions; daytime pale blue and endless, throbbing red and deep yellow and streaked with cloud in the humid evenings, hosting murmurations of starlings that paint shifting pointillist shadows across its canvas, and strings of traffic lights suspended across the highway. There are miles of lush, green woodlands, often draped with spooky, drooping vines that make monstrous shapes out of hidden trees. Mysterious webs hold dark, scary cargo (Giant spiders? Bats? Moths?).
Through all this, thick stripes of roads and railroads carry mega-trucks and pickups, and Harleys roar past ridden by tattooed bikers with mean faces.
Music is in the air here, and you can imagine the young James Taylor, hemmed in by the rules of religion and perhaps a love/hate relationship with his family, articulating his depression through the power of song and learning to play by developing the old timey guitar pickin' music of the Deep South. He sang about Carolina and there is something magic in the air here. It's not a tourist destination; it's a Real Place, and all the better for it.