“Fire and Rain” by James Taylor is a song mentioned in A Complicated Kindness that Nomi can relate to easily. James Taylor was born March, 12th 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts, although he was mainly raised in North Carolina. By age 14, Taylor was writing songs, singing, and had learned to play the guitar and cello. In 1966, he moved to New York City to form a band with some of his friends and by the end of the year they were performing regularly at cafes. Unfortunately, while in New York, Taylor lost himself in drug abuse for a time, but would later lead to the inspiration of some of his songs, including “Fire and Rain”.
After he was back on track with his life, he recorded a few demos and had them sent to Paul McCartney, whose label signed Taylor immediately. A few weeks later, he fell back into his old habits of drug abuse, and was hospitalized in Massachusetts. After his recovery, in 1970, Taylor released his single “Fire and Rain” which was inspired by his experiences with drug abuse, depression, the suicide of his friend Suzanne, and the institutional psychiatric treatments he received. “James Taylor Biography”). While Travis is playing this song for Nomi, she is thinking about herself and her family. Nomi can relate this song to her life, because just like Taylor, she has lost loved ones, her mother, (who likely committed suicide like Taylor’s friend mentioned in the song) and her sister, abuses drugs, and has no faith in life. The song connects to both the themes of endings and loss which are present in the novel.
The line, “I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end,” connects to the theme of endings, which Nomi has problems with due to the incomplete ending of her own life. The part about sunny days probably made Nomi recall all the good days and memories she has of when her family was whole. She even begins to cry in the novel, during this line. Nomi can relate, “But I always thought that I’d see you again,” to how she always thought that Tash and Trudie might come back to see her, which also ties into the theme of loss, because Nomi lost two of the most important people in her life.
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Another line that Nomi can connect to is, “You’ve just got to see me through another day,” which simply reflects on Nomi’s discontent with her life and the struggle she has just to get through each day. There are many poetic techniques incorporated into the song as well. Obviously, there is a lot of repetition due to the repeating chorus and the line “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. ” This line is also a metaphor for the different emotions Taylor, and Nomi, have felt. Fire could be seen as anger, passion, or possibly rage while rain is probably referring to sadness and despair.
There is also a lot of rhyming in the song such as “I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end/ I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,” and “You’ve just got to see me through another day/ And I won’t make it any other way,” as well as others, which makes the song flow more smoothly. The sound device of assonance is used in the line, “Sweet dreams and flying machines,” because sweet, dreams, and machines, (although machines is not neighbouring) all have similar vowel sounds.
- “James Taylor Biography.” Bandbiographies.com. Retrieved 16 January 2013. http://www.bandbiographies.com/james_taylor/biography.htm
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“Fire and Rain” by James Taylor. (2017, May 20). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/a-complicated-kindness/