Let’s start with the standard and necessary information, just to frame this beautiful song: Fire and Rain. Fire and Rain is a music piece written and performed by US singer-songwriter James Taylor, released in 1970 as a single extracted from his album Sweet Baby James. The album was released by Warner Bros.

The lyrics of his life

There are many versions given in various interviews by James Taylor about the meaning of the song. Taylor said the song was about several incidents during his early recording career. “Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you” refers to the suicide of a childhood friend, Suzanne Schnerr. Suzanne made this desperate gesture while Taylor was recording his album in a London studio. This fact, together with the failure of the band The Flying Machine, led the singer-songwriter to a deep depression. The same that poured into the text of Fire and Rain. This is very well stated in the sentence “Sweet dreams and Flying Machines in pieces on the ground”. The reference to the “fall” of the band is more than wanted and also rather clear.

Deeply

In a further interview in 2005, Taylor analyses the meaning of the song more deeply. Not only had her friend committed suicide, but not to distract him from making her album, the thing had been hidden for some time. This actually caused an even more inexplicable and profound wound in the artist. But not only that. His depression was also fueled by his inability to get out of drug addiction.

Specificity of the first recording

Carole King was playing piano on the song. Drummer Russ Kunkel used brushes rather than sticks to give a different tone to his drum kit.  Bobby West played the double bass to “emphasize the melancholy of the song”.

King stated that her song “You have got got a friend”, which she wrote afterwards and that was recorded by Taylor, came from a reaction to the line in Fire and Rain’s chorus “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend”.