…life is good when you’re proud of what you do

You might jump at the answer when you hear that today’s artist was born in Boston, raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (where his father, Isaac Taylor was Dean of the UNC Medical School) and that he, um, battled a drug addiction when he was a young man. And you would be correct if you thought, James Taylor’s little brother, Livingston, born in 1950.

As previously mentioned, Livingston has long been a regular presence around these parts.  We frequently saw him in concert back in the ‘70s; sometimes with his band, sometimes solo; once with his sister, Kate. And we regularly see him nowadays, usually with a favored student from his classes as a full professor at Berklee College of Music (earlier he was artist in residence at Lowell House at Harvard College).

Not only is a Livingston Taylor concert upbeat and optimistic, most of his music is – refreshingly – a shade or two beyond being commercially viable.  Take, for example. today’s selection, taken from a YouTube recording of a radio broadcast of a live performance of a song that was initially released on his 1988 album “Life is Good.”

Between mulch and loam I have been doing quite a bit of shoveling as of late; certainly enough to remind me, at day’s end, that I’m now on the better side of 50.  But when a song like this comes over one’s iPhone on a sunny spring Sunday…with those memories of (“a little dab’ll do ya”) Brylcreem in your hair and the absolute verity that life is good when you’re proud of what you do… You too might be liable to hold to the conviction that giving your all to others will bring it all back to you.


Life is Good

Eight hours with a shovel in the city summer sun

Aching arms and dusty boots and a job that won’t get done

Two weeks pay, spent yesterday and a three-change bus ride home

And the fading gray of a long hard day, not a thing to call your own

And the boy turns and asks his old Dad

He says, are you glad for the kind of life you’ve had

And he says, life is good, spring is in the air

You’ve got two bucks in your pocket

A little bit of Brylcreem in your hair

You go, life is good when you’re proud of what you do

Oh, givin’ your all to others and it all comes back to you

 Some guys are handsome and they make friends all the time

And they’ve always got a buddy, and they always feel fine

Others take the backseat and they watch the world go by

And they live life alone, quietly and shy

But when love strikes, and fires start to burn

And lonely years melt away and finally it’s your turn

And you say, life is good, winter’s flowing cold

And love is forever and it never will grow old

Life is good when you’re proud of what you do

Oh, givin’ your all to others and it all comes back to you

You can go, year to year

Thinking life has nothin’ new

Special things go to others

You’re glad for them but then just like that…

It goes and changes…just like that…

You say that life is good

You were headin’ for the fall

And you picked yourself up

And you dust yourself up it didn’t hurt at all

Oh life is good, when you’re proud of what you do

Give your all to others, come on now try,

Listen very closely to every laugh and sigh

Maybe there’s a reason for all that we do

Give your all to others and it all comes back to you…

…to you

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