Carole King & James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name

A still of James Taylor and Carole King in CAROLE KING & JAMES TAYLOR: Just Call Out My Name. Photo credit: James O'Mara. Courtesy of CNN.

Frank Marshall is back with another brilliant music documentary, Carole King & James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name, to kick off 2022.

The documentary opens with a montage featuring the late night hosts. This is before the film gets into the main focus: the 2010 Troubadour Reunion Tour featuring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members (Taylor-2000, King-1990 and 2021). The Troubadour shows took place over a series of days in November 2007 with the international concert tour following in 2010. Marshall is privy to exclusive footage from the tour. Both King and Taylor reminisce on their 50-year relationship during exclusive interviews. They also discuss the history behind the songs. Taylor even mentions wanting King to be apart of his band. Music history would have definitely changed, for better or worse.

Peter Asher talks about introducing drummer Ross Kunkel to Taylor. Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar is one of Taylor’s oldest friends. Leland Sklar, another friend of Taylor, joined the band and played bass. Asher had met Carole King and invited her to play piano on Taylor’s sophomore album, Sweet Baby James. Kootch, Sklar, and Kunkel have been session musicians for a number of major musicians over the years and have been a part of their own band, The Section. The rest is history.

Taylor and King discuss the challenges that come with performing an intimate show in an era. They decide to perform in a round and play towards everyone in the audience as the night goes on. If not for Taylor providing the inspiration, King might not have started writing songs for herself.

Taylor first played the Troubadour in 1969. The historic Los Angeles music venue played home to so many famous bands over the years. I love the humor as the duo segues between songs. Hey, if you can’t find the original set list, there are so many hits to choose from!

“She wrote too many good songs,” Taylor says about having a problem with their show. To which King quickly responds, “As did he.”

When it came to writing “You’ve Got a Friend,” Carole King didn’t have any person in mind but it just came out of her on the piano. Both James Taylor and Peter Asher were in the balcony as she was performing it during a run-through at the Troubadour. Taylor instantly knew it was a hit and asked if he could make his own version.

When you have musical superstars of their stature, too many songs is not a bad thing. It just means that there’s no shortage of hits to play during concert. You know there’s a wealth of songs when neither “Fire and Rain” nor “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” make formal concert appearances prior to the 1:15 mark (with commercials). As it turns out, 2010 concert footage of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” barely makes the film. Only a brief archival clip during The Late Show with David Letterman. It quick softens into the background before we see the end of a performance during the show. Regardless, the two of them–even in the footage from 2010–are still “at the top of their game” as Sklar comments.

Putting together a concert film is no easy feat but if anybody can put it together, it’s Frank Marshall. Between the first, second, and encore sets, this concert film can only feature so much material given the broadcast restraints. While I grew up knowing Frank Marshall as someone who produced or executive produced Steven Spielberg movies, the man knows his way with music. Whether it’s as a producer or director, Marshall has done a solid job with music documentaries in recent years. Carole King & James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name is no exception.

Ernie Gilbert’s editing is smart for how the film weaves between past and present as they start introducing the songs. Honestly, I think it’s genius. It’s been fifty years since the two of them first performed together. However, the concert tour took place in honor of the 40th anniversary. The two might have aged since they first performed together but neither Carole King nor James Taylor have lost a beat in all these years!

Carole King and James Taylor

The concert film includes the following songs:

  • (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
  • Something in the Way She Moves
  • So Far Away
  • Carolina in My Mind
  • Country Road
  • Smackwater Jack
  • Where You Lead (lyrics changed up as the city they’re playing in replaces New York)
  • Your Smiling Face
  • Beautiful
  • Shower The People
  • Way Over Yonder
  • Sweet Baby James (this kicks off the second half of the film)
  • Up on the Roof
  • It’s Too Late
  • Fire and Rain
  • I Feel the Earth Move
  • You’ve Got a Friend
  • How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)
  • You Can Close Your Eyes
  • Mexico (end credits)

DIRECTOR: Frank Marshall
FEATURING: Carole King, James Taylor, Danny Kortchmar, Peter Asher, Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar
ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS: Andrea Zonn, Arnold McCuller, Kate Markowitz, Robbie Kondor

Carole King & James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name premiered January 2, 2022, at 9:00pm ET/PT on CNN. The film will be available on demand via cable/satellite systems, CNNgo platforms, and CNN mobile apps, beginning Monday, January 3, through Sunday, January 16.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.