Fire and Rain was released in February of 1971 shortly after my family had moved back to Connecticut from New Mexico when my Dad received orders for Keflavík, Iceland. At the time Dad was a mechanic on the F-4 Phantom II fighter-bomber and it was his first deployment overseas since returning from Danang, Vietnam in 1968. He had the choice of going on an "isolated tour" by himself for a year or taking the entire family and being there longer; he chose the former. So, while Dad went to Iceland my mom and three brothers and I took up residence in my mom's hometown of Canterbury where she lives to this day.
As happened quite frequently growing up an Air Force brat, I changed schools midstream and found myself attending the Baldwin School in Canterbury for the remainder of my 7th and entire 8th grade years. It really wasn't all that bad as when my oldest brother and I began school we were introduced as "Steve, Diana, Patricia, and Dave's cousins" so we weren't exactly virtual strangers to the other students. At that time the grades were divided into the A, B, and C group depending on where you stood academically so in January of 1971 I was enrolled in the 7th Grade A Group - totally lost when it came to French but otherwise okay with the rest of the classes.
Even though I couldn't sing very well, one of my favorite classes was music which met in the combination school cafeteria/auditorium/gym - schools back then were nothing like they are now and Baldwin was pretty old long before I started there! Other than meeting in that area, the only other thing I remember about music class was that we learned Fire and Rain shortly after it came out. Even though I had no idea what the meaning was behind the lyrics (suicide wasn't really talked about back then), I thought it was a great song and I still do. All these years later I can still remember the lyrics and the poignant feeling of the song which, whenever I hear it, transports me back to a cold and rainy day in March of 1971 when Mrs. Kaminski handed out the mimeographed pages to us. It was a sad day weather-wise and there's no denying that Fire and Rain is a sad song, perhaps that's why I remember it so well. It's kind of funny - when someone mentions James Taylor I'm back in 7th grade again. Oh to know then what I know now!
"Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rainAs for James Taylor himself, I always thought that he should have married Carole King rather than Carly Simon as they could harmonize on You've Got a Friend like nobody's business but perhaps that's another song for another day. What do you think, Jamie?
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again."