Lonely Days, Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines

James Taylor's classic song, "Fire and Rain"  is a single from his second album, Sweet Baby James, released in February 1970. The song has long been misinterpreted however. Most people believe the song is about Taylor losing his girlfriend in a plane crash, on her way to one of his early shows as a surprise. In actuality, Suzanne was not his girlfriend, but a childhood friend who had committed suicide. That fact was verified by James Taylor himself, on the VH1 show, Storytellers, and in a 2005 interview with NPR. "Taylor said the second line "Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you" refers to Suzanne Schnerr, a childhood friend of his who committed suicide while he was in the UK recording his first album.

In that same VH1 Show, Taylor said he had been suffering from depression  following the failure of hist band The Flying Machine to be successful, which led to the lyric "Sweet dreams and Flying Machines in pieces on the ground". This lyric however helped compound the erroneous conception that the entire song was about Suzanne Shneer, not only being his girlfriend, but about her dying in a plane crash as well.

The opening lyrics of the song, "Just yesterday mornin', they let me know you were gone" refers to the fact that several of James Taylor's friends, kept the news of Suzanne's suicide from him for six months, concerned that it might distract Taylor from his big break,

Towards the middle of the song Taylor is writing about his struggle to overcome drug addiction and depression. "Won't you look down upon me, Jesus. You've got to help me make a stand. You've just got to see me through another day. My body's aching and my time is at hand. I won't make it any other way"

In repsonse to Taylor's song, Carol King has stated that her song "You've Got A Friend", also recorded by Taylor, was a response to the line in the toward the end of the song "I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend.”

So there you have it. What are your thoughts ? Do you know of any other songs that are misinterpreted like Fire and Rain ?  Let me know, I'd welcome the opportunity to explore those as well. And finally, if you enjoyed this, please share with a friend. 

Until next time, here's to Sunny Days that Never End.


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