If you weren’t there, or didn’t see it on TV, or just want to hear it again, here’s James Taylor singing “America the Beautiful” at President Obama’s second inauguration.

This was so darn good I went back and listened to some songs of his that I hadn’t heard in many years. One of those old songs is “Sugar Trade”, about the triangle connecting New England, Europe and the slave trade.

Rum to New Bedford
and codfish from Maine
They were building a wall that will always remain

The paper this week told us about the suddenly hot hot hot real estate market, and a new phenomenon where people buy houses sight unseen, for way over the asking price. The buyers in this story are from out of town (China) so you could argue that it’s not easy to drop by to view the property. Still. Seems a bit unorthodox. Then again, just about anything within arms reach from where I am sitting (including this MacBook) has the Made in China label, so they have the cash.

Mr. Taylor’s song sets this prosaic scene:

The doryman he knows when the riptides will run
He sets out his nets and he waits in the sun
He thinks of his family and drinks of his rum
And he waits for the codfish to come

So I guess I’m the doryman now. Not overly concerned with how the labor and resources were acquired to make this MacBook, my phone, or my running shoes, just bobbing along and doing my bit in the global economy. Somebody should write a good song about it 200 years from now.

No larger point to make – Mr. Taylor has already made it – other than to note how timeless a well-crafted song can be.

Sugar Trade lyrics © JamesTaylor.com 2009 – 2013 reprinted with permission.

2 thoughts on “ Sugar Trade ”

  1. I was also very impressed with his performance. Singing against self-accompanied , complex and sophisticated harmonies. You get that with a lifetime of dedication to your craft.

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