How sweet it is… my night with James Taylor

Today I would like to tell you the story of how I got punched in the arm outside a James Taylor concert.

I have these wonderful friends, Bron and Craig. You know those friends that you just love – you may not see them all the time, they’re busy with their tribe of awesomely boisterous boys… those people you met way back when and just formed a love connection with… the ones that seem to truly get you and you them? You go over for pancakes and you’re still there four hours later… friends who truly listen, who encourage and believe in you…. I hope you can see your Craig and Bron in your mind’s eye.

I’ve know C & B for, gosh, decades now I guess. I actually went to high school with Craig, though he wasn’t in my year.

This story revolves around these two awesome people… we’ll get to the James Taylor bit in good time.

Let me set the scene – it’s late 2002 and I hear that JT (that’s what the fans call the ORIGINAL JT, Mr James Taylor) is touring our fair nation in February 2003. As soon as I see the ad in the paper, I tell Craig that the T-Man is coming to town. He’s pumped, and unbeknownst to me, begins to hatch a cunning plan.

A few months later, Craig calls me up and tells me that he has tickets to the concert, and I think ‘oh how lovely, a date night for Craig and Bron’, but lo and behold Craig has actually forked out for THREE tickets and tells me that they want to take me – just because, as a gift…. I told you they were quality people. Gob. Smacked. Such kindness.

There’s a catch. Craig wants to surprise Bron with the tickets, so I’m sworn to secrecy. A few months go past, and Bron begins to see more advertising for the shows, tensions rise, and I’m astounded at Craig’s ability to keep a secret from his wife without actually telling porky-pies to her.

Craig and I – the brains trust of this whole operation – concoct this fantastic ruse to get Bron into the city on the night of the concert. At the time, I had this boyfriend (the stories I could tell…) and as Craig and Bron are my super special buddies that have yet to meet him, we decide to meet for dinner at a favourite cafe by the river. But, gosh darn it if the boyfriend and I don’t have to rush off to some invented appointment, so it will have to just be an early dinner and maybe a stroll by the river for C & B. (Insert your best machiavellian. evil laugh here……) 

We enjoyed dinner, they met the boyfriend, and Bron and I mourned that we weren’t seeing JT that night. I gave an Oscar worthy performance.

And just then, when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Craig  – who was kind of in the doghouse for not getting tickets before the shows sold out – the mastermind of torment (loving torment) that he is, he actually presented Bron with fake tickets to a JT-tribute concert at a dodgy suburban hotel – oh my goodness, that was a BOLD move…. she was not happy Jan!!**

The boyfriend and I made our excuses after dinner… oh what a shame we’ve got to get to this meeting, so lovely to meet you, sorry to rush off… then raced around to the Arts Centre, where the boyfriend dropped me off and I took up my pre-determined position, milling casually in the crowd. Craig somehow convinced Bron to go for a stroll, right past the concert they weren’t attending, and when Bron locked eyes on me out the front, she rushed up and punched me in the arm!

It was one of the best ruses I’ve ever been part of. Ever. And with the best people.

Once Bron got over the shock, she was ecstatic about what lay ahead… and she wasn’t the only one.

I mean, what kind of awesome friends include you on a really special night like that, just because they love you? Sheesh, I don’t know how I got so lucky in the friendship stakes, and if they’d never taken me to a concert, it would make zero difference to my love for them, but wow, what a special, meaningful gift. We are BIG JT fans and they knew I’d love being there, just as much as they would. (Hey there Craig, hey Bron – I hope you read this – all these years later, again I want to say thank you. Thank you so much.)

The concert was AMAZING. We was utterly transfixed by everything Mr Taylor sang, said and played. The band was sensational, and I was blown away by JT’s long time back-up singer Mr Arnold McCuller. Wow, what a voice that man possesses! I’d go to an Arnold show anywhere, anytime. Incredible. I can still see us in the darkened concert hall… and hear the music. So special.

We had a fantastic night.

Isn’t it lovely to think back sometimes, and remember great nights spent with friends?

There are a lot of memes out there that seem to equate looking back with falling into a pit of depression over the shit in the rear-vision mirror, and I call bullshit on those. Utter bullshit. My life, and I hope your life, in retrospect, has highs and lows, and to not reminisce or look back on precious nights like this one… well that would be just awful.

Dig out a ‘Craig & Bron’ memory, share it with someone, leave it in the comments here… maybe you were the Craig or the Bron, or maybe you were the super lucky pal who got to go along for the ride.

Either way, there’s one thing I will always, always remember about that night….

Take it away James, you gorgeous man. (By the way, that’s Arnold over JT’s shoulder, in the red, with fellow vocal powerhouse David Lesley by his side.)

I’d love to hear your very own C&B stories.

Or your memories of James Taylor concerts.

How sweet it was, and is….

Annette x


** Any references to levels of crankiness etc are my recollections of an event that happened over 10 years ago, written with love and respect for C&B. If the roles had been reversed, Craig would have been just as happy that his wife had bought 3 tickets, as Bron was (after the shock wore off).

The Secret Of Life – according to James Taylor

Today I’ve been out and about, which has been a fun way to spend my Saturday.

Some driving, shopping, chatting, eating and grocery shopping, and now some blogging. Perfecto really. I was very generously given a gift voucher to spend (thank you Claire!) at Harlow which is an awesome local fashion label for sizes 14 – 24 ladies. Luckily for me today is their monthly salon day, so I hopped in my car and trekked over to their Brunswick digs to try things on. I even timed it perfectly, and arrived just after a gaggle of ladies had shopped themselves silly. I was as excited about meeting the lovely Kerrie and Angelo, who are pouring all their passion and creativity into getting this label up and running, as I was about finding something new.

I came away with a great top, which I’ll probably wear to a wedding in a few weeks, and had a few chuckles and a lovely chat with Kerrie and Angelo while I was there. If you’re keen to support local fashion brands (which I hope you are), I highly recommend that you check out Harlow’s website. Their Aussie made garments are really great quality, and you’ll find their customer service outstanding.

A trip across town means tunes, and my preferred radio station is unabashedly Gold 104.3 – because it plays songs that transport me – to other places, happy memories, to the music video library that lives in my head, and I can often be seen singing along really loudly and as I do, I feel my happiness quotient going up, up, up, which is awesome. Combine that with gorgeous sunshine (at least when I set out on today’s jaunt), amazing tree-lined streets, and I was, and am, in a pretty great mood.

After my successful (and free!) shopping trip, I stopped in at a little corner cafe in a bursting-with-autumnal-gorgeousness spot, where I devoured a delicious vegetable frittata (so keen was I to chomp it down, that I didn’t even take a picture of it)! While I was enjoying my lunch, I overheard the girls at the next table earnestly talking about having dreams of demons and tsunamis swallowing the city (quiet eye roll), flipped through an issue of Home Beautiful, and then took another 10 photos of autumn trees and leaves as I meandered home.

I’m also doing something BRAND NEW today, and that is making chicken soup from scratch. You can find the recipe I’m using here. It’s the Pip of Meet Me At Mike’s variation on a Sophie Dahl recipe and I think it is going to be delicious. (Just had to check the chicken, it is getting crisp and SIZZLING and smelling amazeballs). The recipe involves croutons cooked in the tray that the chicken has been roasted. I know, right! Cannot Wait. But I will, I still have to complete phase two of the recipe.

So while I’m cooking, and typing this blog post, I’m listening to James Taylor and it’s transporting me back about 11 years (I’m utterly hopeless with specifics). This part’s quite convenient, as today’s theme for Claire Hewitt’s May daily blogging challenge is about being transported by music!

So, listening to James reminds me of this great story: I have some AMAZING  long time friends, let’s call them Craig and Bron, who are big time James Taylor lovers. As you can imagine, I was absolutely gobsmacked when my friend Craig called and said that he’d bought me a ticket to the upcoming James Taylor concert, and that he was going to surprise Bron by taking her, which meant all three of us were going to the show. O.M.G. The extra ticket was their gift to me, just because they love me. I mean, geez, couldn’t that just make you cry? Generous people ARE out there, and I hope you know some, and/or are one of them. As this was a surprise, Craig and I came up with a great ruse of them meeting my boyfriend and I (he’s long gone now, phew) for dinner by the Yarra, and then we’d make like we had to be somewhere else, and I’d sneak around to the Arts Centre and be there when Craig unveiled the surprise. The funny part was, that Bron was a bit cranky to have missed the concert (or so she thought), but we still had a pleasant dinner and her loving husband really pushed the limits by producing fake tickets to a James Taylor tribute show at the Sunshine Hotel (or something like that). It was hilarious. But not really. Anyhoo, as Bron and Craig walked around the corner to the concert hall, hand in hand, and she saw me, it started to dawn on her that we were GOING TO THE CONCERT!! So even though Craig was the mastermind, I bore the brunt of her shocked surprise and got pummeled in the arm! It was worth it though, to see her face and then Craig’s pleasure at surprising her. Naaw, ain’t love grand?


The concert was AMAAZING, as you’d expect. We had a sensational evening, friends being together, seeing and hearing one of the best singer songwriters of our lifetime, right in front of us. Thank you James Taylor. You are THE MAN. Click and sing along…. Secret O’ Life

The secret of life is enjoying the passing of time
Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill
Since we’re on our way down, might as well enjoy the ride
The secret of love is in opening up your heart
It’s okay to feel afraid, but don’ t let that stand in your way
‘Cause anyone knows that love is the only road
Since we’re only here for awhile might as well show some style
Give us a smile
Isn’t it a lovely ride?
Sliding down, gliding down
Try not to try to hard, it’s just a lovely ride…..

Have you ever  been part of a great surprise?
Got a concert memory you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it.