100 Greatest Singers
March 12th, 1948
Key Tracks "Five and Rain," "Sweet Baby James," "You've Got a Friend"
Influenced Jack Johnson, Garth Brooks
"I want to be in tune," James Taylor told Rolling Stone in 2008. "I want to sing pretty, I want to sing sweet." Taylor boasts a classic American voice — a clear, vibrato-less instrument as reassuring as a warm fireplace. "Don't get fooled by James' understatement," says David Crosby. "As beautiful as his voice is, there's nothing mellow about a performance like 'Fire and Rain' — it's about a man who's experienced highs and lows." Taylor's steadiness as a singer has allowed him to handle coffeehouse folk, rock & roll, country music and R&B with equal ease. "Ultimately, I think James' voice reflects the man," says Crosby. "He's kind, lovely and very much a gentleman. He doesn't walk off the path too far, but what a path he's walked. It also doesn't hurt that, for me, he's up there as a songwriter alongside Lennon and McCartney, Dylan and Joni Mitchell — the best of the best."