No Mo' Blamin' Mo
We must have been doing something right to have lasted four and a half years in this swamp where couch potatoes are the major crop -- not only to survive, but to be voted Best Jazz Club three times by two major publications and be given a full-page epitaph in New Times ("MoJazz No Mo'," September 4). The epitaph, unfortunately, is not up to the quality of the music we presented.
The writer, Georgina Cardenas, missed what could have been a truly interesting piece by neglecting to interview a cross section of the musicians who played at MoJazz and a sampling of regular patrons who attended our final event. Instead she filled the piece with quotes from me about why the place closed, with me always described as "insisting" or "contending," as if I were on trial. She cast me in the role of defendant against two musicians who said MoJazz's "failure" was due to "Morgen's own management." One of them said that not having "just one cover ... ruined the place." This genius ignored the fact that we operated for four years with a multilevel cover. He is also paraphrased as saying that "Morgen ... didn't pay his bands but made them play for the take from the door."
Ms. Cardenas says I responded by saying, "Even in New York, musicians work during the week for nothing...." This is journalism at its lowest, an attempt to smear for shock value. Ms. Cardenas knew the allegation was untrue because I told her before publication that everyone always got paid at least the standard. Since the switch to Latin jazz in May, however, the weeknight bands were larger and worked off the door, but almost always with a minimum guarantee. If she doubted me, she could have called other musicians for verification. What I told her about New York was that on big-band Monday nights at many clubs, musicians work for carfare because there are too many guys to pay on an off-night. She ignored the truth to cast me as a callous exploiter.
To make things worse, she quotes an "off the record" source (has she no respect for the request "off the record"?) who allegedly says I'm "hard to work with" and "not a world-class musician" -- so "hey, Mo, give it a rest." If the coward actually said that, what a crappy thing to print! If you're conservative, there are perhaps four or five world-class jazz men here. If you're liberal, maybe eight or nine. Should the rest of us "give it a rest"? I'm a respected vocalist/saxman among my peers, and many have paid to see me perform with or without the company of the "world-classers." Look for me soon at a club near you!
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a street "improvement" project scheduled for a four-month completion becomes a siege when it tears up your area for twenty months and still has at least four months to go. That's why we had to sell. Blame the City of Miami Beach for making a bad deal. Blame the North Beach Development Corporation for switching the master plan at the last minute to move Ocean Terrace to top priority and the Normandy fountain to the bottom. Most of all, blame the contractor from hell whose name should live in infamy among jazz fans -- up there with Kenny G's.
And blame yourselves for sitting home every time it rains or there's some overhyped TV sports event. But as the song goes, "Don't blame me." Shall I sing it for you?
Smoke Gets in Mo's Eyes
To all the reasons given for the shutdown of MoJazz Cafe -- construction, inconsistent cover charges, weather -- let me add one that caused my lack of attendance and I'm sure others' as well: smoke. Mo himself confessed, "I gotta go soak my eyeballs" after enduring the burning haze permeating his place.
The classic song "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" tells only part of the story. It also gets in your hair, throat, lungs, clothes, and food. Too bad the same is true of Jazid and most other jazz venues. Must we forgo breathable air and health for live jazz indoors? I suggest the future operators of Mo's site and other music clubs begin a policy of smoke-free nights. A real "Sophisticated Lady" (and man) no longer puffs. It's time to recognize and separate the fans from the blowers, the breathers from the butt-heads!
Sweet Crybaby Michele: In Defense of Simps!
Why trash James Taylor? John Floyd's article "Sickly Sweet Baby James," (September 4) only proves, by his own pompous admission, that his "articulations" "reflect" only his "reality" in his exceedingly exciting part of the world -- a world I suppose all the millions of us boring and banal James Taylor lovers aren't fortunate enough to be a part of.
Floyd seems to be missing much of the gist of Taylor's music. I agree that his lyrics and melodies may not reflect the deepest of the deep, but then we can't all relate to the incredible angst and psychological twists of Bob Dylan or Eddie Vedder -- two artists who have worked quite diligently to position themselves as outcasts in a world that has wronged them (according to their lyrics) while somehow remaining in the public eye.
I've been to several James Taylor concerts, during which the smile has never left my face. He is a master at capturing an audience, which is exactly why he continues to sell out shows and has for more than two decades. Simply put, he relates to his fans and his fans relate to him, something many other artists are unable to do. Maybe Floyd cannot relate to this, since it's a "feel good" thing.
The reality is that James Taylor's fans do not necessarily attend his concerts to hear his new stuff as much as to nostalgically listen to the old. And what's wrong with that?
Editor's note: Michele Sinisgalli's opinion, it seems, is shared by a couple of other people who learned of John Floyd's article via a Website devoted to James Taylor, and who were then directed to New Times's Website (miaminewtimes.com).
Sweet Crybaby Eric: Stinky Seventies Saps
I think John Floyd's review and harsh criticism of the finest folk-rock singer-songwriter of the Seventies stinks. James Taylor is not sappy sweet. His music is personal, genuine, and very real.
Aiken, South Carolina
Sweet Crybaby Michelle: Flyod's Bad-Hair Life
Sounds like somebody is a bit jealous. Did John Floyd join the Hair Club for Men and still can't get women to look twice at him?
As far as Hourglass being "one gooey valentine after another," Floyd should give it another listen. It's not just about romance.
Sweet Crybaby Carol: Our Specialty -- Misanthropic Malcontents
Floyd's James Taylor review is typical of the standard cooler-than-thou pronouncements of self-important critics who can't win attention by making music and so get it by lashing out at those who can. If this article accurately reflects the extent of Floyd's insightfulness as a critic, New Times is not getting its money's worth. Find a music critic who likes musicians, not a misanthropic malcontent who has to pump up his own ego by insulting anyone more gifted.
Sweet Crybaby Virginia: Severely Unprofessional Annoyance
The next time you get someone to write a commentary on James Taylor, or any other music artist for that matter, find a person who is less biased, arrogant, and annoying. Mr. Floyd's professionalism is severely lacking.
Sweet Crybaby Philip: The Amazing No-Talent Loser
John Floyd has no business being a music critic. At best he is a loser who knows nothing about music. James Taylor is probably one of the greatest singer-songwriters-musicians this country has ever produced. The reason he sells out every show is that those of us who know great music go to see him.
Since Mr. Floyd is obviously a man of limited mental capacity, his hateful article is not surprising. It is amazing that we live in a world where a no-talent loser like him is allowed to be a music critic and have his articles published for all to see.
Sweet Crybaby Wendy: Rude and Trite and Not the Times
Floyd's article was ridiculous. It gave no insight and was really rude. James may not be everyone's cup of tea, but to suggest he can't sell many records and that only people without any taste go to see him is a very trite perspective. I like artists who represent many types of music. I even saw most of the greats from the 1960s live many times. Now I listen mostly to Van Morrison and blues performers, but James remains a favorite. I don't take issue with Floyd panning his performances, only with him insulting those of us who really like James.
Why doesn't Floyd read reviews written by obviously more professional reviewers like those in the New York Times and learn how to write a real review?
New York, New York
Sweet Crybaby Jonathan: Honestly, Many of Them Really Aren't That Bad!
Floyd's critique is (subjectively) valid as far as it goes, but it makes the common mistake of assuming that most of James Taylor's songs are about "mushy reactions to love." Many of them aren't. For example, check out "Only a Dream in Rio," from That's Why I'm Here, or "Frozen Man," from New Moon Shine. Both are inventive arrangements of takes on unusual subjects. The latter is James Taylor's best song of the decade and has been covered by Fairport Convention and Garth Brooks. (Will those names provoke another rant from Floyd, I hope?)
Marlboro, New Jersey
Sweet Crybaby Phil: Heavy Metal Can Be Meaningful
I have seen James Taylor in concert many times over the years. He is one of the few popular performers who put on a show of enough class and talent that you feel you have gotten your money's worth. Of course, not everyone is going to enjoy every artist. I dislike heavy metal, but that doesn't mean it doesn't mean a lot to many people.
I listen mainly to jazz, and I'm very particular about letting much popular music into my life. But Taylor is a superb singer and songwriter and is rightfully respected by many classical, jazz, and pop artists.
Sweet Crybaby Dana: Small-Town Psychologist's Invaluable Advice
John Floyd's article made me remember why I don't live in a big city any more. The guy is obviously very unhappy. There are a lot of bands and musicians I don't like, but I don't go around bashing them. As Floyd said, James Taylor's concerts are usually sold out. That must tell Floyd something -- or is he that ignorant? He is a very unhappy person and should get help.
Sweet Crybaby Geri: One Precious Reader Gone Forever
I'm not sure why anyone would give John Floyd a voice in any publication, or why I should waste my precious time reading him. I'm sorry I did, because he clearly doesn't understand much.
I'm thankful that New Times can't possibly reach as many people as James Taylor's incredible contributions can. I will never again read anything in New Times as long as Floyd has a voice in it.
Sweet Crybaby Diane: Don't Quit That Day Job, Floyd!
Shame on John Floyd. He considers himself "sensitive"? I think not. Although everyone is entitled to his own opinion, I cannot conceive of how he came about his perceptions.
"Banality"? Who was he listening to? Is this attempt at a review intended to be inflammatory and attract some attention to his byline? Did he refer to his dictionary and thesaurus to come up with some of his inane verbiage?
Unfortunately, I suspect he has a snowball's chance in hell of attaining "love-sick-sucker" status. (Perhaps if the word love was subtracted from the phrase, he would qualify.)
Certainly a reasonable person, regardless of musical taste, could not conclude that a talent like James Taylor is an "asshole or a jerk." Wish I could say the same about Floyd the quasi journalist. My rating of his review? Less than zero stars. Hope he has a day job.
Cary, North Carolina
Sweet Crybaby Kathleen: Sheesh on Floyd
Come on, John Floyd, tell us what you really think of James Taylor. Sheesh!
Redfield, South Dakota
Sweet Crybaby R. Rene: Do We Detect a Teeny-weeny Insecurity Here?
Obviously John Floyd has no life, no friends, no talent, and no dick. Perhaps, as he puts it, "no one is calling James Taylor a jerk or an asshole," but I feel the same cannot be said of John "No Dick" Floyd.
Jerk and asshole don't begin to cover dickless John Floyd. The "review" I read was nothing more then a baseless, hateful, jealousy-laced personal attack on a fine and talented artist and man. I don't have the time or the inclination to counter or argue Mr. Eunuch's pointless criticism of James's voice, talent, songwriting, et cetera. (I'm surprised he didn't critique his attire.)
I have seen James and his siblings perform numerous times and own everything I can find on CD, record, tape, and video (they are all very talented and accomplished musicians), and I must say, from my point of view as a musician and recovering alcoholic, James's and his brother Livingston's music has had a profound effect on my life and helped me survive some very dark moments.
As to the penisless Mr. Floyd, he obviously is not familiar with James's whole catalogue, just his "hits" (which are also great). He doesn't know what he's missing. Meanwhile, perhaps he can find a good surgeon to attach a dick, or perhaps one of those implants, or maybe he could buy a strap-on. But even with a dick he wouldn't be half the man James Taylor is.
R. Rene Patenaude
East Otis, Massachusetts
Sweet Crybaby Dave: James Taylor Can Too Play Guitar
I am a big James Taylor fan, and I don't necessarily disagree with John Floyd's general comments about Taylor's somewhat tiresome diatribes regarding love. But some of us actually appreciate Taylor's musicianship. He's a helluva guitarist and has a much better command of song structure than 90 percent of his peers. His understanding of passing chords and other devices usually found in jazz harmony leave the majority of singer-songwriters floundering in his wake.
Sweet Crybaby Scott: James Taylor, Tragedy Magnet
I think Mr. Floyd overlooks much of Taylor's life -- his hard-core heroin addiction, his two failed marriages, his Greatest Hits album (the best-selling greatest-hits album of all time, according to Billboard), and his pain.
His album Enough to Be on Your Way is about the death of a close family member from alcoholism. Perhaps it is easy to stereotype Taylor because he was the first one. He has played with great performers like Neil Young, Jackson Browne, and Garth Brooks. In fact, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame admits that the "Dark Side of the Moon" song and album were partially inspired by Taylor's "Carolina in My Mind."
Mr. Floyd is hostile, and I bet younger readers (I am only 26) eat up the simplistic barbs and cheap shots, but perhaps we will see if the bands of today are still selling out tours and having gold albums, which Hourglass is -- almost double by now.
Sweet Crybaby Paula: More Heroin-Addicted Depressives, Please
For John Floyd's information, "Your Smiling Face," penned by James Taylor, was written for his daughter Sally when she was a baby. It is not a love song. As for "Sweet Baby James," it is not about him. It too was written for a baby -- Alex Taylor's son was named after James. Does Mr. Floyd have any clues at all as to what this man is about?
Yes, he is sensitive and, yeah, a romantic. I for one think there should be more people like him and his family. They are all warm and kind individuals. You couldn't meet nicer people. I sense maybe a bit of jealousy on Floyd's part. Maybe he should listen as well as James does. Maybe feeling a bit would help too. Not everyone is a "rocker" or needs to be.
I think this middle-aged bald man has a lot to be thankful for, and he knows it. He has never been smug or condescending to anyone that I know of. I hope he didn't read Floyd's article because, as you know, James is sensitive. I hope he keeps up the good work for a long time to come. I can't think of many others who have had such a long career.
Sweet Crybaby Jamie: Invite Floyd to Your Next Party
Floyd must be fun at parties. I don't believe I have ever read a music review that was so degrading. I have often though how difficult it would be to write music criticism, having to listen to all different types of music and give an objective opinion, even about types of music that one might not be particularly fond of.
It is clear to me that Mr. Floyd has very little time for James Taylor's type of music. While he is not the greatest songwriter in the world, he has created a great deal of music that is loved throughout the world. It is one thing to give someone a bad album review, but to bash a successful 30-year career -- that is downright unfair. Does Floyd ever have anything nice to say about anyone?
Sweet Crybaby Sarah: Ban Personal Preferences from Criticism
It's so nice to know that John Floyd continues the grand journalistic tradition of unbiased reporting. His attack on all things James Taylor suggests that he has a serious problem with objective reporting. I understand and respect the fact that Mr. Floyd may not like the type of music that James Taylor writes and sings. I do not, however, believe that his personal preferences should have been the main focus of his article. If his intention was to write a feature about James Taylor, then I should have been reading about James Taylor, not this arrogant hack's opinion of what he considers to be good music.
Sweet Crybaby Debbie: The Pen Is Wimpier Than the Simp
I rarely pay much attention to critics because, quite frankly, I don't see the need for them. They simply write opinions, usually no better or no worse than mine. Music is one of the most subjective of art forms, and it should be reviewed as such. Mr. Floyd's review was written with neither objectivity nor diplomacy, and I felt it was insulting and offensive.
His venomous pen refers to Mr. Taylor as the "mouthpiece for sensitive fortysomethings" and his following as people who need someone who can express their thoughts and feelings for them. What a jaded and ignorant view of the world Mr. Floyd must possess to write such a cynical and pious review!
Pine Hill, New Jersey
Sweet Crybaby Bill: London Calling -- Dump Floyd!
John Floyd's denunciation of James Taylor and his music as a "hodgepodge of ... love-song goo" makes me wonder why critics bother writing about artists they patently do not like. As an exercise in sharpening his skills as a cynical hack, he succeeds. But as someone who may have heard James Taylor but clearly has never listened with an open mind, Floyd demonstrates his own arrogance.
Taylor has provided a meaningful soundtrack to the lives of many people, not just sensitive fortysomethings. Floyd claims he's a sensitive wannabe. Showing off in print like that, he'll never make the grade.
Sweet Crybaby Annette: Quick, Get Her a Blanket and a Pacifier
Hurt is how I felt when I read John Floyd's article on James Taylor. In this day and age, a simple existence is what many of us crave, leaving the rat race behind for a little bit of peace and quiet. I remember listening to James Taylor when I was just a small child. When I hear his music, I feel safe and loved.
Maybe Floyd longs for the complexities of some singer-songwriters. I find James Taylor's songs the kind that one can listen to over and over. No, his writing isn't comparable to the great musicians mentioned, but his songs do have a place in my heart. His soothing voice, singing songs new or old, gives me the giddy, head-over-heels-in-love feeling that Floyd spoke of. That's the beauty of music. To each his own.
Palm Coast, Florida
Sweet Crybaby Bruce: Floyd's Hole in the Head
I completely disagree with John Floyd. He should open his ears and his mind.
Sweet Crybaby Stacy: She'll Stop Ranting Real Soon
James Taylor has never professed to be anything more than a man who has put his feelings to music and attracted a few people by doing so. He himself has said he'll never quite understand what the attraction is.
The attraction is there, believe me. You don't sell 30 million albums without attracting a lot of people who can identify with what you're saying. We've all been there: the lost loves, the broken dreams, the wish to escape, the rush of life that can sometimes drive you mad. Hell, even my kids have been known to break into a chorus of "Damn This Traffic Jam."
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John Floyd neglected to mention that Hourglass debuted on Billboard's charts at number nine. Not bad for an old guy, eh? Floyd compared him to Fleetwood Mac? Ha ha ha. (Where did they park their walkers for that last MTV special?) If anything, James's voice has gotten more mellow with time, and his range has grown greatly.
I'm sorry; I know I'm ranting, so I'll stop. If Floyd wants to hear a really great song, listen to "I Will Follow" or listen again to "Another Day," though I don't presume to think I'll change his mind.
Stacy Klaus, president
James Taylor Fan Club