Secretary of State John Kerry’s decision to bring out James Taylor to sing “You’ve Got a Friend” in Paris yesterday has been met with near universal derision including by our own Emily Zanotti.
I finally had a chance to watch the video. It was far from Taylor’s best rendition of the song and he knew it. By the end of it, he couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. But Kerry pulled him back to acknowledge the applause/humiliation.
I feel sorry for James Taylor. I like his music and once saw him in concert. But neither he nor this song was right for this occasion.
If Kerry wanted music for the occasion then bring along someone to sing “La Marseillaise” or an Edith Piaf song.
Here’s a suggestion. Kerry could have brought a slide show featuring works by American political cartoonists drawn in honor of the slain French cartoonists similar to what I saw at the French Cultural Center in Boston a week ago. Throw in a bust of FDR, Truman, Eisenhower or even JFK and it would have been a hell of a lot more meaningful than a James Taylor song that no one in France has ever heard of.
Emily speculates there must have been multiple State Department meetings held before it was decided to bring James Taylor along. I’m not sure that much thought went into it. After all, John Kerry and James Taylor aren’t strangers to each other. Taylor, along with Bon Jovi, The Black Eyed Peas and Carole King performed on behalf of Kerry in Copley Square on Election Night 2004 for what was supposed to be a victory party. I remember that night well. I remember a lot of dispirited Kerry supporters walking down Boylston Street. I also remember that Kerry never attended the gathering and it was left to John Edwards to tell people at 2 a.m. to go home.
Speaking of Carole King, she actually wrote “You’ve Got a Friend”. I wonder if she was approached first. If King was approached and she declined, she sure saved herself from a lot of embarrassment.