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Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 75 ONE OF THE MOST underestimated responsibilities a parent has is listening to good music while their children are young. My heart bleeds for my friends whose parents were only half- heartedly into music, or worse, not into it at all. It seems to lead to lazy listening and a greater susceptibility to modern pop. I lucked out. Mom and dad had stacks of records—Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles (the later years), Paul Simon, the Beach Boys, The Who. This music had soul. There was something alive in there, and the older I got and the more I could make sense of the lyr- ics, the more I began to decode a generation of artists expressing how it felt to be alive in their time. My idea of what music could be was formed. My father’s favorite was James Taylor. Dad owned every JT record and would sing along, matching his soft vocals so well I sometimes believed “Your Smiling Face” was written by my own father for me. Something about Taylor’s honest and understated style still reminds me of the quiet side I saw in my own father, and even now when I listen to James Taylor I remember my younger self ’s early observations of my dad—a bright, extroverted, and popular fellow—as a person who could be soft and introspective, who maybe had a lot to think about. Now, as I am becoming an adult, I have found myself search- ing for an artist of my own generation who can reach me in the same way James Taylor seemed to speak directly to, or for, my dad. And then I found him. His name is Ben and—because life is synchronistic and full of circles—it happens that he is James Taylor’s son. When I listened to Ben’s recently released album, Another Run Around the Sun, it was clear to me this person had spent some time thinking about what spirituality meant to him, and I want- ed to know what he had come up with. “I feel like I’m pretty consistently spiritually plugged in,” Ben told me when we first spoke on the phone. “Maybe a better way to look at it is that there are ways in which I disconnect from my spirit—like when I patronize the corporations, when I go shop- ping for expensive things, and when I grow dependent on politi- cally and ecologically unsustainable luxuries. That’s when I feel myself becoming less and less in touch with my spirit. And that’s just one of the things that human beings go through. But gener- ally speaking I’m actually pretty well tapped in.” “That’s impressive,” I told him, “because I’m sure it would be a pretty big obstacle for someone of your status as, you know, a celebrity or a—” “Spoiled brat?” he offered good-naturedly. “Yeah, it is. It’s true.” As we ended the conversation, we both mentioned that we’d like to talk again, and later I got an e-mail inviting me to visit his All in the Family KATIE ZDYBEL grew up on the music of James Taylor and Carly Simon. Now she meets their musician son Ben Taylor and discovers that in his family, as hers, love of music brings the generations together. PHOTOSBYKATIEZDYBEL