James Taylor

Walking Man

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One Man Dog drastically lowered expectations for a new James Taylor album, and those expectations were almost met by Walking Man, a more considered effort than its predecessor that managed to be just as trivial but even less interesting. As a result, it became the worst-selling album of Taylor's career. Somehow, a songwriter who had seemed in 1970 to have as precise an idea of the national mood as Bob Dylan had had in 1965 now seemed to be a man without a country. Earlier in the year, Taylor had hit the Top 5 with a cover of "Mockingbird" sung with his wife, Carly Simon, but this record lacked even the charming inconsequentiality of that performance, something Taylor would regain and live off of in later years. Instead, Walking Man, which began with Taylor asking, "Who is this walking man?" and ended with him commenting, "It's really not so bad to be fading away," sounded like the statement of a songwriter who either had nothing to say or didn't know how to say it.

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