Taylor uncovers the past, offering new perspectives
By Lee Zimmerman, October 2018
Suffice it to say that the past has always loomed large throughout Chip Taylor's career. That's all the more obvious if only for the fact that Taylor wrote some of the biggest pop hits of the '60s, "Wild Thing" (famously recorded by The Troggs, Jimi Hendrix and innumerable others), "Angel of the Morning"(the oft-covered seminal hit by Merilee Rush and later, Juice Newton), "Anyway You Want Me" (another smash success by The Troggs) "I Can't Let Go" (an early hit by the Hollies, later revived by Linda Ronstadt) and "Son of a Rotten Gambler" (another hit the Hollies could claim).
At the same time, Taylor's always been intent on moving forward, as evidenced by a stunning series of solo albums that date back to the early '70s, a testament to a prolific prowess that's been unwavering since the beginning.
Ironically, past and present frequently collide. Recently Taylor uncovered a cache of songs intended for release, but then somehow forgotten. Recorded nearly a dozen years ago, it got shifted to the proverbial back burner when Taylor found himself immersed in other projects and subsequently moving on. The album, now finally seeing the light of day, is tellingly titled "Time Waits For No Little Girls - Uncovered."
"I was working with my steady collaborators at the time," Taylor recalls. "Carrie Rodriguez, Kendel Carson... and before I knew it, the newer recordings had gained a momentum of their own, and 'Time Waits For No Little Girls' was somehow forgotten. My album 'New Songs of Freedom' was in the top five of the AMA charts and taking off in Europe. I was riding a wave, and it washed away the music I had been working on before. The tracks on 'New Songs of Freedom' were very pointed and political, and and it kind of overshadowed everything else at the time."
The tracks were rediscovered - unearthed in a way - five months ago, and they remain as vital and affecting now as they certainly would have before. Carefully crafted by an astute cast of collaborators - Taylor (vocals, guitars, harmonica), former Van Morrison sideman John Platania (guitar), Seth Farber (keys), Tony Mercadante (bass) and Tony Leone (drums) - the music is measured and yet mesmerizing, veering from the hushed reverence of the title track, "The Light In Your Eyes" and "On Hold" to the undeniable exuberance of "Somewhere in Some Town" and "Diamond In the Middle of the Road."
The uplifting ode entitled "Joe Frazier" drops as the first single. The song, appropriately autobiographical in another beautiful collision of past and present, also boasts a lyric that is well worth heeding in these tumultuous times: "You don't build yourself up by putting others down."
"I was looking up one of my songs on the computer where I have everything stored," Taylor remembers. "I was looking for a track with a particular title, and suddenly 'Time Waits' pops up. That led me to a link where I found the songs bundled together. I had totally forgotten about them, but when I heard them I thought,'Wow, I really like this.' I loved the sound that we captured with the band. It was a live feeling, and it came across as so easy and so cohesive. It was like a gift I had been given, a special, singular gift that was really amazing."
Ironically, this so-called lost album isn't Taylor's only recent reconnection to the past. He's also celebrating the simultaneous launch of a second project, a six-song EP inspired by a movie called "A Bread Factory" by filmmaker Patrick Wang.
Scheduled to open Oct. 26 in New York and L.A., it stars Tyne Daly and Elisabeth Henry as a couple who are fighting to keep their local arts center open in their tiny town of Checkford, N.Y.. Three of the EP's offerings - "Whose Side Are You On," "End of Part One" and "Could You Be a Little Less Supportive" - are heard in the film itself, Wang's second effort following his critically acclaimed debut "In the Family."
"Patrick and I rekindled a relationship that began in early 2010 when he sent me the script for his first film and asked me for my critique," Taylor explains. "Oftentimes when people send me scripts, they're simply hoping I'll pass them on to my brother (actor Jon Voight). This time, however, he merely wanted my feedback. Here again, time go the best of me. I forgot about it for six months, but when I did read it, I offered him a hearty endorsement."
"In the Family" was turned down by every major film festival, but once it found a screening at the Quad Theater in New York City, the present caught up with the past yet again. It was hailed by the critics and received glowing reviews from the likes of Roger Ebert, the New York Times and Variety, made the top 10 in most of critics polls for 2012 and received a nomination for the prestigious Spirit Awards.
Here again, there was a persuasive connection. All the central characters in the film are Chip Taylor fans ("Serious fans," the object of their admiration notes. "A nice thing for me"). Notably too, Taylor's song, "One More Lousy Picture Show" from his heralded album "Unglorious Hallelujah" is heard as the credits roll at the end of the film.