Friday, June 18, 2010

It's Too Late, Baby ...

No, no, no. Not talking about the Celtics today. As Dana Carvey -- channeling George H.W. Bush -- said, "not gunna do it."

So, the title of this screed has nothing whatever to do with the disappointing denouement to the 2010 post-season. Nothing at all.

That's because James Taylor and Carole King are coming to down tomorrow and Sunday. I don't have tickets. I don't intend to get tickets either. But it does occur to me that the mellow, laid back sounds of JT and Carole are probably just what I need to soothe my frayed nerves after two weeks of Kobe, Artest, Derek Fisher (damn him!), Shrek, Donkey, The Truth and The Big Ticket.

Except to say, of course, that the entire Celtics team might have been asking their fans, "but will you love me tomorrow?" after blowing a 13-point third-quarter lead and forgetting how to rebound.

Or, to put it another way, there were a couple of points last night when I heard Kevin Garnett cry out "I feel the earth move under my feet," but that really wasn't what was happening. It was Pau Gasol ripping down rebounds.

Did you know, by the way, that Carole King wrote one of the Monkees' greatest hits? I'll bet you didn't. But she and then-husband Gerry Goffin wrote "Pleasant Valley Sunday," which, as we all know, was a huge hit for the Pre-Fab Four in the summer of 1967 -- the only year the Celtics didn't win an NBA title during their run of 10 in 11 years (Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers won it) from 1959 through 1969.

Carole King's list of songwriting credits reads like a who's who (or maybe that should be what's what) of popular music. Aside from the already-mentioned songs, she wrote a song the Beatles recorded called "Chains," which -- contrary to popular belief -- was not about what it looked like the Celtics were bound in every time they tried to take a shot last night. She also wrote "One Fine Day," and it would have been, too, if we had a parade to go to tomorrow or Sunday.

In fact, if you google Carole King, or see the Wiki writeup on here, you'll wonder if anyone else but Carole King ever wrote a rock 'n' roll song. She was that prolific. She wrote -- or collaborated with Goffin -- songs that became hits for the Animals ("Don't Bring Me Down," which maybe someone could have played for the Celtics last night); the Drifters ("Up On The Roof," which -- I'm sure -- is where many Boston fans headed last night to contemplate a quick end to their misery); and Bobby Vee ("Take Good Care Of My Baby," which I'm going to personally re-record and call "Take Good Care Of Big Baby."

Oh, which reminds me, you know that Carole King song "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby," that Litte Eva recorded? Nope. Not directed toward anyone inclined to pick a fight with Big Baby so he can break his thumb again.

Little Eva did very well thanks to Goffin-King, by the way. They also wrote "Locomotion," which was -- I'm sure -- written in honor of Ron Artest after one of the many times he ran over, under, sideways and down Paul Pierce in the open court (no, she didn't write that song, The Yardbirds did).

"The Truth" was a hurtin' bird after this series. You could tell. Aches and pains everywhere, thanks to the mugging Artest put on him.

King kind of ducked underground for a few years, only to re-emerge in the 1970s, in the era of the singer-songwriter, with "Tapestry," and had a monster hit with "It's Too Late." And I'll say it is. The rapist has another ring. You don't suppose he'll try to buy his wife off with it, do you?

She even wrote one of JT's biggest hits, "You've Got A Friend," and any day now, the video is going to come out with that playing in the background as "Big Baby" (Shrek) and Nate Robinson (Donkey) yuck it up during the news conference after Game 4. Pssst. Fellas. It was Game 4. You hadn't won anything yet and you were acting as if you'd invented the damn game. Maybe next time, a little humility? Yeah, it was cute. I'm sure the Lakers thought it was real cute.

Let's not leave JT out of this. He's had his hits too. Not as many as King, but he's up there as one of our latter-20th century cultural icons.

And as a Boston native, you can be sure that JT probably has a soft spot in his heart for the Celtics. He's sung the National Anthem a few times at Fenway Park (including Game 2 of the 2004 World Series and again on New Year's at the Winter Classic game between the Bruins and -- dare we even say it -- Philadelphia Flyers).

Once, at Fenway, I actually rode up to the press box in the elevator with James Taylor. Me, being me, I told him I enjoyed all the Taylors, even Livingston (I guess if you called him LT, he'd have to stand in line behind Lawrence Taylor and LeDanian Tomlinson).

JT was a bit bemused. He wanted to know how in hell I knew so much about Livingston, since LT's had about two hits in his life, compared to, I don't know, the hundred or so that James has had. Easy. For about four or five years running, I'd take the family down to Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts in Mansfield (It's the Comcast Center these days) for the free "Not the July 4th" concert ... which was always on (let's see if you can deduce this ...) July 5.

It was always a fun night. The local symphony orchestra (not the BSO or the Pops, in keeping with the not theme) would play, and LT would always open the show. LT was more jazz and blues oriented that James, and his stuff, especially when combined with the symphonic music, was quite aesthetically pleasing.

Anyway, James has had his great songs. "Sweet Baby James" is one of his best, obviously, but, again, those of us with one-track minds should be aware that it was not about LeBron.

Nor was "Carolina in My Mind" about a Celtics road trip to Charlotte.

However, James, unlike Carole King, had his peaks and valleys, which is understandable in life. After all, how do you go from setting an NBA record for hitting three-pointers, the way Ray Allen did in Game 2, to being absolutely invisible, the way he was in Games 3 through 7. Talk about peaks and valleys! JT has nothing on Ray.

I mean, talk about "Fire and Rain!" Allen was en fuego in game two ... and a friggin monsoon put his fire out from then on.

You know, when I ran into JT in that elevator, I didn't have the guts to ask him the one question I've been pining to know the answer to: How to you manage to screw up a marriage to Carly Simon????

The easy answer: Booze. JT's had his addiction problems. He spent a considerable period of his life in and out of treatment centers because of depression and addiction (which provides one of the backdrops to "Fire and Rain"), and was still heavily into drinking while he was married to Ms. Simon. What a waste. Who doesn't love Carly Simon??? She's the Sandra Bullock of music, even if she did write the vicious, vicious "You're So Vain."

Then again, after watching the way that game ended last night, I could have used a pop or two myself. So who am I to judge?

Because of the many ups and downs (as opposed to "up and down," which is a form of traveling in the NBA), JT had to get back on his feet by recording cover versions of famous songs. They were usually slowed-down versions of early 60s hits, such as "Wonderful World," by Same Cooke (it wasn't last night) and, my favorite, Buddy Holly's "Every Day," which is just a nice song no matter who sings it.

But these slow-paced versions of tried and true rockers did remind me of last night's game, where both teams seemed as if they were stuck in cement, and the game seemed like it was being played in slow-motion mode for 48 minutes.

JT even wound up on Sesame Street. Yup. When my son was a a child, I -- perhaps like all parents -- had to watch Bert and Ernie about 20 times a day. One day, there's JT singing about "Jellyman Kelly." It was just a nice little ditty about a guy who likes jelly on his toast, and about a woman (Jenny Mehenney) who liked to boil water so that Jellyman can have tea with his toast and jelly. Silly song.

I am going into the studio and record my version: "Jelly-Legged Kevin," in honor of the way Pau Gasol made Garnett look old and tired.

Gee. All these memories. I never realized, until now, how much I liked both Carole King and James Taylor. And after writing this, I'll have to see if I can score a ticket Sunday night (tomorrow's show is sold out). Then, I can sit and watch two genuine American legends weave their tapestry of warm, engaging, mellow and thoroughly enjoyable music.

And forget all about the disappointing ending to the Celtics post-season.

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