You’re a 60+ year-old folk-rock musician who sat ringside at Ali-Frazier I, released a Greatest Hits album in 1976 that sold over 11 million copies worldwide, dabbled with and overcame a very public drug addiction, won five Grammy Awards, has somehow been able to not only maintain, but grow your fan base, and may or may not have ever been to Mexico. What are you – one incredibly talented (though not necessarily always liked) musician with nearly a half-century’s worth of professional experience – to do in your spare time at your modern cabin of a home in Berkshire County Massachusetts? You’re going to teach guitar.
James Taylor introduces his guitar lessons on JamesTaylor.com with a gentle smile, soothing voice, and the apparent technological knowhow of whatever you call someone who refers to signing up for an email list as “pulling the trigger” and disables embeds on their YouTube videos. He explains how online video demonstrations showing a little bit about what he does on the guitar have been on the top of his to-do list for some time.
But before Taylor begins with those lessons, he teaches you one of the most important things in guitar. How to put on fake nails.
The video begins like a midday infomercial for a fake nail manufacturer who spent too much on a celebrity endorsement and skimped on the production. “Human nails are not strong enough to put up with the repeated punishment fingerpicking style puts them through,” Taylor says. So, a reinforced plastic polymer that easily adheres to your own homegrown nail is preferable.
It’s endearing in a “Old Inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame do the Darndest Things” kinda way. That’s what makes it ridiculous, too. I love me some Fire and Rain as much as the next guy with a strong connection to his emotional side, but when an artist you associate with being, at least at one point, impossibly cool is a self-styled amateur manicurist, it makes you involuntarily put on a half-charmed half-confused smile.
Taylor ditches the synthetics and plays a rendition of Little Wheel from multiple camera angles for his next video. If you want to be an aesthetician or learn to play guitar, check it out.