Re: Interpretation zu Fire and Rain

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Abgeschickt von Rob B. am 23 Juni, 2005 um 10:49:39:

Antwort auf: Interpretation zu Fire and Rain von Holger am 10 Mai, 2005 um 18:28:54:

Hier einige Hintergrundinformationen:

The real story behind 'Fire and Rain' is that some friends of James were going to surprise James by bringing his girlfriend, Suzanne, to one of his concerts unbeknownst to James. According to the story, Suzanne's plane crashed ('sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground') on her way to see the concert and Suzanne dies ('Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you').

Origins: Gentle,
plaintive, and compelling, "Fire and Rain" was the hit that launched the career of James Taylor, one of the 1970's premier singer-songwriters. The song's mournful lyrics of loss and redemption were enigmatic, and many listeners tried to make sense of the words by reading literal meaning into them.

Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone.
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you.
I walked out this mornin', and I wrote down this song;
I just can't remember who to send it to.
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.

Won't you look down upon me Jesus?
You gotta help me make a stand.
You just got to see me through another day.
My body's achin', and my time is at hand.
I won't make it any other way.

[repeat chorus]

Been walkin' my mind to an easy time,
My back turned towards the sun.
Lord knows when the cold wind blows,
it'll turn your head around.

Well there's hours of time on the telephone line
to talk about things to come:
Sweet dreams and flying machines
in pieces on the ground.

[repeat chorus]

Taylor's audience collectively developed an autobiographical story line for his "Fire and Rain" lyrics: Suzanne, the girl who was now "gone," had been Taylor's girlfriend. They were frequently separated as he travelled on tour, but they kept in close touch, spending "hours of time on the telephone line" and talking about the good "things to come" when Taylor finally established himself as a musician. Seeing how disconsolate Taylor was at being away from his love, his friends arranged for Suzanne to fly out to meet him at his next tour stop. Suzanne joyfully accepted, but the flight carrying her to a reunion with her beloved crashed, and she was killed. Both the "flying machine" and Taylor's "sweet dreams" were now "in pieces on the ground," and he had lost the woman he "always thought" he'd "see again."

Although James Taylor's song is indeed autobiographical, it doesn't match the heart-wrenching story line of popular legend. By the time "Fire and Rain" established Taylor as an international pop star at the tender age of twenty-two, he'd experienced plenty of psychological and physical pain upon which he could draw in crafting his lyrics. He already had a long history of depression and substance abuse for which he'd been hospitalized twice (his first hospital experience was the basis of the song 'Knockin' Around the Zoo' on his Apple debut album), and he'd also spent several months recuperating from a near-fatal motorcycle accident. All of this was fodder for his songwriting, as he explained in a 1972 interview with Rolling Stone:

"Fire and Rain" has three verses. The first verse is about my reactions to the death of a friend. The second verse is about my arrival in this country with a monkey on my back, and there Jesus is an expression of my desperation in trying to get through the time when my body was aching and the time was at hand when I had to do it . . . And the third verse of that song refers to my recuperation in Austin Riggs which lasted about five months.
Taylor hasn't spoken publicly about the identity of or the nature of his relationship with the 'Suzanne' referred to in the first verse of the song. In his recent James Taylor biography, Ian Halperin writes:

Privately, however, Taylor has admitted to friends that Suzanne was a girl he met when he was in the Austin Riggs mental hospital. They became close friends because they shared many interests and goals . . . He was deeply saddened when he found out Suzanne committed suicide several months after he left the hospital. At first, Taylor didn't find out about Suzanne's death for several weeks, because his friends were afraid that that if they told him he might do a lot of drugs or something drastic to escape the reality of his friend's death. So they waited until he was finished recording before to break the news to him.
Even if Taylor's friends are right about how Taylor met 'Suzanne,' they're still wrong about when he met her. Taylor entered Austin Riggs psychiatric hospital in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, a few months after his October 1968 return to the United States from England, where he had recorded his debut album for the Beatles' Apple label. Yet the liner notes from the CD re-issue of that album indicate that among the unreleased tracks recorded by Taylor was an early version of "Fire and Rain," which means the song clearly antedates his stay at Austin Riggs. If 'Suzanne' was an acquaintance from one of Taylor's hospital stays, it had to have been from his 1965 stay at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, when he was seventeen.

The mention of the "flying machines in pieces on the ground" is not about an airplane crash; it's an allusion to a group called The Flying Machine that Taylor had formed with his friend Danny Kortchmar. The group disbanded in 1967 when Taylor's drug problems led him to leave New York and return to his parents' home in North Carolina.


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