Taylor wrote "Fire and Rain" in 1968 at three different times. He started it in London, where he auditioned for The Beatles' Apple Records. He later worked on it in a Manhattan Hospital, and finished it while in drug rehab at The Austin Riggs Center in Massachusetts. In a 1972 Rolling Stone interview, Taylor explained: "The first verse is about my reactions to the death of a friend (that would be Suzanne - explained below). The second verse is about my arrival in this country with a monkey on my back, and there Jesus is an expression of my desperation in trying to get through the time when my body was aching and the time was at hand when I had to do it. And the third verse of that song refers to my recuperation in Austin Riggs which lasted about five months."
This song is about the high and low points of Taylor's life. He was only 20 when he wrote it in 1968, but was battling depression and drug addiction.
This was the song that took Taylor from little-known troubadour to star of the '70s singer-songwriter movement. His first label deal was with Apple Records, the label owned by The Beatles. He recorded his self-titled debut album for Apple in London in the same studio where The Beatles were recording The White Album, and although it produced some Taylor classics like "Carolina in My Mind" and "Something In The Way She Moves," it sold poorly due to a combination of Taylor's heroin addiction (he had to seek treatment and couldn't promote the album) and Apple's implosion as the label fell apart. Taylor was dropped from Apple and picked up by Warner Bros. Records, where he released his second album, Sweet Baby James. The "title track" was issued as the first single but failed to chart. Taylor, however, was on the road promoting the album, and when "Fire and Rain" was released as the second single, it took off.
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