Album: Dad Loves His Work (1981)
Charted: 11


  • James Taylor and J.D. Souther wrote this song with Waddy Wachtell, a guitarist known for his work with Stevie Nicks, Linda Ronstadt and Warren Zevon. The song tells the story of a woman who finds herself living alone after a breakup with her man, and has to deal with the small town gossip. Many people speculated that the song was doubly autobiographical: Taylor's marriage with Carly Simon was ending, as was Souther's relationship with Linda Ronstadt. Taylor and Souther refuse to say who they were singing about, which we found out when we posed that question to J.D. in 2011. When we asked if he'd like to reveal her identity, his reply was, "Of course not. You think after all these years suddenly I'd rat somebody out?"
  • There are some clues that this is about James Taylor's divorce from Carly Simon. Taylor's ongoing problem with drug use led to their divorce, as did spending more time on his career than with her. This is indicated in the lyrics: "She gets the house and the garden/He gets the boys in the band." The title of the album, Dad Loves His Work, could be another reference to the martial breakup. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ken - Louisville, KY

Comments: 9

  • Ken from Louisville, KyThe misconception is this is about James Taylor and Carly Simon's marriage breakdown. But it probably is about Tayjor's producer's (Peter Asher) marriage breakdown. The Ashers were a popular couple in LA rock circles while married, but when they split, she was ignored. Taylor felt for her and wanted to reassure her that "somebody loves you".
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 7th 1981, James Taylor & J.D. Souther performed "Her Town Too" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    And the very next day on March 8th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #38, and seven weeks later on April 26th, 1981 it peaked at #11 {for 2 weeks} and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #5 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Five days after this 'Bandstand' appearance Mr. Taylor celebrated his 33rd birthday, he was born on March 12th, 1948.
  • Peter from Chazy, Nyjames taylor has the greatest voice in popular music history. john david souther has been associated with some of the greatest musicians in american music history including the eagles. the souther hillman furay didn't quite live up to david geffen's dream of the next csn. I don't pretend to have any clue as to the marriage breakup of carly and james, but james taylor and jd souther would be a great combo for an album. peter, chazy, ny (way upstate)
  • J from Toronto, CanadaSheila Weller's recently published book "Girls Like Us" about Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King explains that "Her Town Too" was written by James Taylor and J D Souther for Betsy Asher. She and Peter (Peter & Gordon) had a rather messy divorce and the song detailed Betsy's emotional vulnerability during this time. You'll find the explanation on pages 429 and 430.
  • Michelle from Wilmington, DeWOW! Amazing song! James Taylor just has that sound ya know?
  • Dennis from Anchorage, AkThis song always struck me as being about how people around a breaking up couple always seem to insist on choosing sides. "Some of them his friends, some of them her friends, some of them understand" is especially clear on this. I always appreciated that aspect of it, but especially when my wife and I split up some years ago. All of "our" friends turned out to be MY friends, and cut her off completely. It was a very sad time for her. I was glad for the support from my friends, but I felt bad for her. About the only person who supported her in the whole business was, ironically, myself.
  • Charles from Charlotte, NcSouther had a hit of his own in 1979 titled "You're Only Lonely". It sounded like something Roy Orbison might have written.
  • Kei from Salem, OrWhile the song may indeed have been inspired by Taylor and Souther's dissolving relationships, the story it tells seems almost to be that of the other party.

    The song is about a small-town woman whose marriage is ending (by the third verse, it is legally over). While it is never explicitly said, it seems implied that the marriage ended through infidelity on her part (thus, all the lyrics about her being at the center of rumors, while her husband appears to escape scuttlebutt unscathed, or being afraid to leave her house). At the end, her husband and children have left, and she's alone in her house. It's then that it's clear that Taylor and Souther have been singing from the POV of another observer: someone who has watched the entire scenario unfold, and appears to still care for and accept the woman for who she is. While it's possible that this is the "other man", that to me seems highly unlikely; to my mind, it seems much more plausible that this is yet another man, a longtime male friend who has loved this woman for a long time (thus "you never know till it all comes down that somebody loves you").
    At least, this is how it appears to me. Your mileage may vary.
  • Kei from Salem, OrApparently, prior to Dad Loves His Work's release, Carly Simon was incensed with James for concentrating on touring and recording, as opposed to spending time with her and their kids. She gave him an ultimatum: cut back on the recording and touring, or I walk. The alhum's title was his answer, and they divorced the year after its release.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Danny Clinch: The Art of Rock PhotographySong Writing

One of rock's top photographers talks about artistry in photography, raising funds for a documentary, and enjoying a County Fair with Tom Waits.

Tony Joe WhiteSongwriter Interviews

The writer of "Rainy Night in Georgia" and "Polk Salad Annie" explains how he cooks up his Louisiana swamp rock.

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?

Michael Glabicki of Rusted RootSongwriter Interviews

Michael tells the story of "Send Me On My Way," and explains why some of the words in the song don't have a literal meaning.

Randy HouserSongwriter Interviews

The "How Country Feels" singer talks Skynyrd and songwriting.

Andy McClusky of OMDSongwriter Interviews

Known in America for the hit "If You Leave," OMD is a huge influence on modern electronic music.