elvis costello's foray into the world of talk shows, "spectacle," debuted this season on the sundance channel. the fourth hour-long instalment of the series aired on christmas eve, and was spent with james taylor. it was an incredible program, and included not only the expected q & a with, and songs from, taylor himself, but the show opened with costello covering taylor's "bartender blues," and costello join taylor for a couple of duets! the show itself was filmed last september, here in nyc at the appollo theatre.
elvis costello (w/laura cantrell) performs "bartender blues"
as an on and off again fan of elvis costello since i first saw him in concert in 1979 (with the "attractions"), seeing him perform in this intimate context was awesome. while pat is the resident james taylor fan in our household (having seen not only james in concert this year, but his sister kate and brother livingston, as well), i also enjoyed watching the normally shy and reticent taylor not only perform, but talk.
it was fascinating to listen to taylor get metaphysical with his discussion of "words" - their symbolism in particular. it was just plain great to hear his acappella (along w/the back-up singers) version of "the lonesome road" and learn that he sang it at john belushi's graveside! it was also interesting to see the paternal taylor emerge in the discussion of his son ben following him into the music business. it's got a "wild side" he said and went on to mention the tragedies of jimi hendrix, janis joplin, and his luck in escaping similar disaster!
jame taylor introduces and performs, "sweet baby james"
as an aside, this was my third rock-related program over the christmas break (neil young's "heart of gold" and the huge tom petty documentary, "runin' down a dream"). between football games and those great shows, it's been tough to find the time to watch the johnny cash "at folsom prison" concert dvd - my actual christmas present!
update: tonight (12/31) the sundance channel will air the first four episodes, starting at 5 p.m., as the lead in to the newest one (w/tony bennett) at 9 p.m. - the james taylor interview is on at 8 o'clock.