It’s true that James Taylor hasn’t released a record of new songs since 2002, but he hasn’t just been sitting around. Over the past 12 years, the 67-year-old singer-songwriter has released five CDs — live recordings, holiday music, and a collection of covers — and toured more or less constantly.
“I’ve been working as hard as I ever have in my life,” JT told us Monday, reached at his home in the Berkshires.
But he’s about to get busier. Taylor confirmed Monday that his new CD, “Before This World,” is finished and will be released June 16. Recorded at The Barn, his home studio in the Berkshires, the album features Taylor’s longtime band and a few of his famous friends, including Yo-Yo Ma and Sting. (His wife, Kim, and son Henry also sing a few harmonies.)
Why so long between albums?
“It’s a very different kind of thing to prepare an album of original songs. I just needed to get back into the habit of writing lyrics,” he said. “I borrowed a friend’s place in Newport and went down there for a week at a time. After about two days of nothing happening, the songs would come through.”
As always, Taylor writes about what he knows: life on the road, love, and recovery. (Taylor was a heroin addict for several years.)
“More and more, I see how lucky I’ve been. That’s the general reaction I have to the life I’ve lived,” he said. “I’ve been unbelievably lucky and I’ve had great support.”
When Taylor released his first LP in 1968, he said he never imagined he’d still be making music all these years later.
“I thought very little about the future beyond the next tour or getting done with an album,” he said. “It’s like that line from ‘Copperline’: ‘I’m only living for the end of the week.’”
Not anymore. Next up are shows this month in Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy, and then back home for a concert at Tanglewood on July 4 and a sold-out show at Fenway Park Aug. 6.
“I wrote a song about the 2004 World Series, called ‘Angels of Fenway,’ ” he said. “I’m very keen to play it at Fenway.”