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Bartender's Blues (song)

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Title: Bartender's Blues (song)  
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Subject: James Taylor, James Taylor discography, Your Smiling Face, One Man Band (James Taylor album), Woman's Gotta Have It (song)
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Bartender's Blues (song)

"Bartender's Blues"
Single by James Taylor
from the album JT
A-side "Handy Man"
Released 1977
Genre Soft rock
Length 4:10
Label Columbia Records
Writer(s) James Taylor
Producer(s) Peter Asher
"Bartender's Blues"
George Jones
from the album Bartender's Blues
B-side "Rest in Peace"
Released 1978
Recorded October 10, 1977
Genre Country music
Length 3:43
Label Epic Records
Writer(s) James Taylor
Producer(s) Billy Sherrill

"Bartender's Blues" is a song written by George Jones and other artists.

Recording and composition

"Bartender's Blues" is Taylor's attempt to stretch into writing country music, which was not the typical genre Taylor wrote in.[1] It was also an attempt to provide a different perspective from the common country music theme of a customer telling his troubles to the bartender.[1] In this song, the bartender gets to narrate his story.[1] The bartender feels trapped and unhappy in his job, and is looking for a "honky tonk angel" to come save him.[1][2] Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine described it as "James Taylor's impression of what life in a honky tonk must be."[3]

Author Aaron A. Fox sees the song as capturing a classic country music metaphor of the bartender who uses his talking skills to "repair social ruptures" but in the process becomes "the very kind of fool he despises, hating his job even as he lights the cigarettes and laughs at the jokes of his customers while watching them fall down on [their] knees."[4] Sue Simmons-McGinity remarks on how the song applies the common country music metaphor of a "honky tonk angel" who has the potential to save her man but unlike in many country songs, in "Bartender's Blues" the angel doesn't "become wife and mother to be helpful."[2]

Linda Ronstadt sings harmony vocals and Dan Dugmore plays pedal steel guitar, while Danny Kortchmar plays guitar.[1]

Critical reception

Allmusic critic Bill Janovitz says of Taylor's performance "Taylor sounds about as convincing in his attempt at straight-country performance as he is as a Nashville songwriter; that is, not very," although he considers it a "commendable effort at writing a genuine country song" that is "beautiful musically," particularly the melody.[1] He also praises Ronstadt's and Dugmore's performances.[1] Taylor himself stated that "I think it's an okay but lightweight song."[5]

George Jones version

Billboard's Ray Waddell, the singer addressed the comment:

"Yeah, I got into it too much, I really did. At the time, that's the way I felt it, but I think I really overdone the phrasing. But I cut it again on one of my latest albums, and I don't do quite as many syllables. I got that part from Lefty [Frizzell]. He always made five syllables out of one damn word."

The song was released during the first week of 1978 and stayed on the Billboard country survey for fourteen weeks, peaking at #6. It was Jones' first [9] Harlem Hamfats covered the song on Harlem Hamfats, Vol. 4.[10]


James Taylor's recording reached #88 on the [12]


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  8. ^ a b Jones, George; Carter, Tom 1995, pp. 222.
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External links

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