Chip Taylor


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Chip Taylor Biography

The New York Times says it best about Chip Taylor. “If you only know him as the as the guy who wrote ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Angel of the Morning” — you don’t know him! Chip Taylor is making some of the most distinctive acoustic music around today."

Creating distinctive music that is also enduring and influential has been Chip Taylor's métier over the course of what is closing in on five decades as "one of America's finest songwriters as well as a masterful singer and performer," says Rolling Stone. His two best-known songs are only some of the many pop, rock, country and R&B chart hits he wrote in the 1960s. Taylor was then one of the pioneers of the pivotal country-rock movement as a recording artist in the 1970s. And since returning to music in 1995 from a hiatus as a professional gambler, he has enjoyed elder statesman stature within the Americana, contemporary folk and singer-songwriter scenes as an artist in his own right as well as in collaboration on albums and in performance with Carrie Rodriguez, Kendel Carson and John Platania.

But rather than rest on an impressive legacy rich with musical landmarks, Chip Taylor continues to build upon and expand his creative accomplishments with stunning creativity and prolificacy. And his latest release on his Train Wreck Records label, New Songs Of Freedom, arrives right on time in this highly political season to revivify the grand tradition of topical songwriting.

The soul stirring and thought provoking seven-song mini-album surveys the landscape of the world in which we live with a keen eye, sly wit and humane spirit, urging listeners to “Dance With a Hole in Your Shoe” amidst the travails of life to the beat poet wordplay and sweetly comforting groove of the opening track. Similarly, "Sunshine’s A Waterfall" offers such words of wisdom on the human condition as "little people climb big mountains/little minds can't reach the water fountains" and "rebuild it, don't bomb it/drop your weapons in the name of Muhammad!" On the title track, Taylor makes wry observations on everything from the current situation in Tibet to the state of the music business, while “Former American Soldier” uncovers one of the little-known repercussions of the Vietnam War on the indigenous people of Southeast Asia.

The disc also culls three tracks from Taylor's 2001 two CD political, historical and cultural opus Black & Blue America, which was largely overlooked in America when its release was overshadowed by the events of 9/11 and their aftermath. The album nonetheless sparked a sensation in Europe — where it was hailed by critics as “a modern classic” and “nothing less than a masterpiece” — and its songs have only gained greater resonance over the intervening seven years. Interstitial introductions and sound bites weave the material into a seamless whole that is capped by "The Making of Dance With a Hole in Your Shoe," a revelatory near 25-minute track on which Taylor grants listeners a unique glimpse into the workings of a musical artisan and his talented accompanists.

As Amazon.com notes, “Taylor is both a legend and a vital, contemporary voice.” When his dying mother asked him in 1995 to get his guitar back out and sing and play for her as she lay in her hospital bed, it elicited a spark that reignited his creative fire, which only grows stronger with each musical project he undertakes. New Songs Of Freedom is his seventh release since his return to music, which was greeted with a chorus of critical hosannas that continued over his four duet albums with fiddler, singer and songwriter Carrie Rodriguez, now a solo major label artist. Other recent projects include writing and producing an album with Canadian singer and fiddler Kendel Carson, Rearview Mirror Tears, and producing and co-writing a unique guitar and instrumental disc, Blues Waltzes and the Badland Borders, with his longtime guitarist and musical cohort John Platania (also known for his work over the years with Van Morrison).

As England’s The Guardian notes, "Chip Taylor, like Johnny Cash, is well worth rediscovering by a new generation." And the near future will see the release of more projects to be discovered that Taylor has already written and recorded. New Songs Of Freedom presages both The Rhinebeck Sessions, a set of new songs he cut with some of his favorite musicians at a studio in New York’s Hudson River Valley, and Songs From A Dutch Tour, an upcoming book with CD that chronicles Taylor’s final tour with Rodriguez and his love for the people of Holland, whose devoted appreciation of his music since the 1970s has provided him artistic sustenance over the years.

Also in the offing is Rock & Roll Joe, an album on which Taylor, Platania, Carson, drummer Bryan Owings and bassist Ron Eoff pay tribute to the often unsung and little known players and musicians whose work and spirit was essential to making the music that has touched and moved generations, and which will be followed by a tour of theatrical Rock & Roll Joe concerts. Taylor has also created an album with his three granddaughters, Kids 2 Save The Planet, three songs from which are already available on iTunes. (As well, Black & Blue America, which is currently out of print and highly sought by collectors, is slated for re-release soon.)

And within the spirit of all of his recent creative ventures, Taylor is also gathering fans and followers at The Church of the Train Wreck, a regular podcast on his website where he shares his philosophies of life and self fulfillment and shares stories about the wonderful and positive things that people can do for each other in day to day life. (www.trainwreckrecords.com/churchstories.html)

As Taylor's muse continues to fire on all pistons, musical tastemakers agree that fans and listeners should tune their ears into the continuing creativity of a true musical master. “If names like Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt mean anything to you, you should make a point of discovering Chip Taylor,” urges noted critic Anthony DeCurtis in CD Now. "Whether you know it or not, he’s earned his way into that exalted company."

But for Taylor, the most important discoveries are the further songs to be written and new recordings, projects and collaborations all to be pursued and enjoyed. “Every morning I pick up the guitar and it’s such a joy for me, either playing a song I wrote yesterday, or if something comes up, all of a sudden I am drifting off someplace and getting that spirit,” he says. “My spirit is more fully attached to music than it’s ever been, way more than when I was writing the hits. What a joy it is to be on this ride, writing these songs.”