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Break Shot: My First 21 Years

An Audio Memoir
Narrated by: James Taylor
Length: 1 hr and 33 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (15,463 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“I’m James Taylor, and I’m a professional autobiographer.” So begins the tender audio memoir Break Shot: My First 21 Years. Through decades of songs by the celebrated folk legend who brought us “Fire and Rain” and “Carolina in My Mind”, James Taylor has doled out details of his life in the poetry of his work. Taylor says his early life is “the source of many of my songs”, and Break Shot is a tour of his first 21 years in rich, new detail. Combining storytelling, music and performance, this one-of-a-kind listening experience also features a crop of musical gems, including an unreleased recording of the beloved hymn “Jerusalem” and selections from his newest release, American Standard, as well as new original scoring by Taylor specially recorded for Break Shot and more.

Recorded in his home studio, TheBarn in western Massachusetts, Break Shot tells the deeply personal story of Taylor's youth, which is entwined with the story of his family. What started as an idyllic tight unit soon became a family sent to different emotional corners - like a break shot in the game of pool, he says, “when you slam the cue ball into the 15 other balls and they all go flying off”.

By the time Taylor released his breakout second album in 1970, Sweet Baby James, he had seen the disintegration of his parents’ marriage and his family crumble in the aftermath. He had committed himself twice to a psychiatric hospital, battled depression and a heroin addiction, suffered a relapse, and traveled far away from the “wood smoke and moonshine” of the North Carolina landscapes in which he came of age. Despite it all, he was also on the cusp of superstardom and on his way to bringing light and joy to millions. He was 21.

In this Audible Original, Taylor lays bare the emotional turmoil he and his family fought through when he was first finding his musical path. At last, he creates an audio memoir illuminating the tenuous first act of a life he’s spent decades learning to fully live. Journey with James Taylor to a time before he became a Grammy Award-winning Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts, as well as one of the best-selling musicians of all time.

Special Note: This title is free to members and free with trial through April 2, 2020.

©2019 AO Media LLC (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

Take a tour of James Taylor’s early life.

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What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Love His Music, Love His Story

I was just going to listen while on the treadmill this morning, but I could not stop. I put plans aside and finished this too short production. Listening to his voice, his story and his music was a fantastic experience for me. It touched so many feelings and thoughts.
Dear Audible,
Please convince James to continue his story in more productions like this.

44 people found this helpful

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Thank you, Mr Taylor & Audible!

For someone who grew up in the 70s, James Taylor’s music was everything & heard everywhere. His album “Sweet Baby James” was in everyone’s collection & yet spoke with delicate intimacy to everyone I knew. The song,”Fire & Rain” made Mr Taylor our friend because when you listened, you knew you were not alone in your confusion & heartaches. All these years later, I still remember many of the lines in his songs & what they meant to me when I was young and felt quite alone. His songs deeply resonated despite the fact our lives could not have been more different. Yet his music connected us.

But to the subject at hand—this Audible original. Wow! His open and honest account of his early life makes me admire him even more for sharing it with us. So, to hear him sit down & share his recollections of his early life is a lovely gift! Hearing his music & warm voice felt like he was sitting in my living room sharing something he just had to tell someone—but not for glory. It felt like he wanted his fans to know some of the truths he’s figured out about life & family and the road he’s traveled. I just finished listening & didn’t want it to end. Thank you to all who made this recording possible! Love to you, Mr Taylor! You helped get me through some rough years and it was so nice to listen to you again!

28 people found this helpful

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So so depressing to listen to

I grew up with your music. You are a very talented musician and I loved your music. But please don’t ever read any other story. Your talent does not lie in narration. The monotone reading was painful to listen to. As for the story itself, I’m sure it would have been so much more interesting if there was some life put into it. There were some high points that would have come out so exciting if there was some energy in your voice. It just sounded like you didn’t really want to do this.

26 people found this helpful

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Inspiring Autobiography

I am a psychiatrist who has worked with many seriously ill hospitalized patients. This is an inspiring story of a legend who recovered from severe depression and substance abuse and had a future of remarkable good. It is a remarkable story of recovery and an inspiration to all who have gone through episodes of mental illness.

24 people found this helpful

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Format drove me nuts...

The material felt thin and i was quickly bored. But the real annoyance was every 5 minutes they'd jam way too much music in. It's if they knew they didn't have much so they felt like "hey lets put in James' great music and that will carry us through this."

I quit and couldn't finish.

23 people found this helpful

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Took me back and brought me forwad

As always, James Taylor weaves a story that captivates and heals. You find your own questions in his stories and maybe and answer or two.

His struggles and beautiful life tales harmonize with our own. James Taylor is both artist and art.

22 people found this helpful

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Thank you, James, for sharing yourself with us

He tells his story as honestly and as artfully as he writes his music. Both his pains and his joys are palpable.

21 people found this helpful

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JT, So Much Deeper Than I Ever Knew

Man this is deep at times. I never knew how tough his child life was, most of them going into mental institutions. No wonder his songs mean so much to me, as someone who suffers bad mental health. He is a part of so many of our lives. Love You JT.

19 people found this helpful

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From James Taylor’s talent goes beyond singing!

From beginning to end, James paints a picture of his early days with his incredible storytelling where he shares his talent as both writer and songwriter. An inspiring story from an inspiring man!

18 people found this helpful

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I lost my daughter to heroine.

Your song fire and rain was played at my daughter’s funeral. She was in the Air Force and made big plans for her future but had PTSD. We talked a lot on the phone but never told me she was using heroine. The line,I thought I would see you one more time again. Jesus help me make it though another day. Your story is helping my wife and I deal with her passing. Thanks

14 people found this helpful