Music icon Taylor debuts 'Angels of Fenway'
BOSTON -- The song may have been over 10 years in the making, but its meaning still holds as much relevance today as it did then for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician James Taylor.
On Sunday, Taylor paid a visit to Fenway Park and introduced gathered fans to "Angels of Fenway," a song he first conceived in 2004 after the Red Sox ended their 86-year title drought with a World Series championship. The lyrics, which feature references to that historic season as well as the team's rivalry with the New York Yankees, were inspired by his personal connections to Boston baseball.
"In 2004, that miracle season, that incredible thing that happened and what it meant to Red Sox fans and to the city of Boston, to all of New England," said Taylor, who was born at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "The release that it represented, the long, hard years waiting to get back on top. It moved me deeply and I knew I wanted to write about it."
In addition to showcasing his new song, Taylor was on hand to perform a cover of "America the Beautiful" on the field during the game.
"Angels of Fenway" captures the elements of family and tradition present throughout American professional sports, including baseball. Taylor spoke of childhood days spent playing baseball with his siblings, as well the Red Sox fanhood of his parents and wife, and explained how those aspects of his own life tied into the greater tapestry of American culture.
"It tells a story of a grandmother," Taylor said. "Even after her husband died, she still comes to the park. It means a lot to her. And she takes her grandson along for a ride, and she sort of turns him into a fan. That's something you can actually see. After the 2004 season, there were a lot of news items that showed people putting pennants on their grandparents' graves, leaving memorabilia in the graveyard. It's a generational thing."
Just as the grandson came to embrace the Red Sox, so did Taylor, who has grown close with the organization over the years despite spending much of his life in North Carolina and, later, New York. And with the debut of "Angels of Fenway," he becomes a small part of the team identity, as well.
"If I hadn't had that connection with Fenway, with the team and the people, the management of it, the players and everybody we've met and dealt with since I've come into my relationship with the team, I wouldn't have written in this song," Taylor said. "As a Red Sox fan or as a baseball fan in general, it's almost like a tribal thing. I was amazed at how inclusive it was, at how benevolent it was. It's like the emotional soul of New England here."