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Documenting Popular Music

TBT – Album Review: James Taylor’s ‘Before this World’ from 2015

Documenting Popular Music
Released on Feb 22, 2018

For this ‘Throwback Thursday’ (TBT) episode of Documenting Popular Music, we are replaying our 2015 review of James Taylor’s ‘Before this World' album.  To date, it is the last studio album Taylor has released, and he has been performing songs from the album on his current concert tour.

Before this World’ was produced by one of Taylor’s long-time collaborators, Dave O’Donnell, and the core musicians who perform on the album have also been part of Taylor's inner circle for a long time.  Additionally, guests Sting and Yo-Yo Ma appear on the album, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s album chart when it was released.

Included on the album is the now classic “Angels of Fenway,” a tribute to the Boston Red Sox World Series championship season in 2004.

Musicians on the Album:

Luis Conte: Percussion

Walt Fowler: Handclaps

Steve Gadd: Drums

Larry Goldings: Piano, Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes, Organ, Accordion, Harmonium

Jimmy Johnson: Bass

Michael Landau: Electric and Nylon-String Guitars

David Lasley: Vocals

Yo-Yo Ma: Cello

Kate Markowitz: Vocals

Arnold McCuller: Vocals

Rajendra Prasanna: Shehnai

Caroline Taylor: Vocals

Henry Taylor: Vocals

James Taylor: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Hi-Strung Guitar, Synth Guitar

Sting: Vocals

Andrea Zonn: Fiddle and Vocals


The O&F Studios is currently working on an elaborate edition of Documenting Popular Music, which will take a look at the year in music from 1977, a significant year that helped shape the latter half of the 70s.

Additional episodes currently being produced include an interview with the author of a new biography about Gordon Lightfoot and an in-depth interview with Merilee Rush (“Angel of the Morning”).