James Taylor inherited his love for the Boston Red Sox from his father and grandmother, and his newest song follows his fandom through three generations from the sale of Babe Ruth to the team's cathartic 2004 World Series title.
The Boston troubadour was back at Fenway Park on Sunday night to debut a new single, "Angels of Fenway," named for the historic ballpark. The song was played on the public address system before the game against the New York Yankees, accompanied by a video with highlights of the century-old rivalry.
"Angels of Fenway, hear our prayer," the chorus goes. "We have been chastened. We have been patient."
In a press box interview during Sunday night's game, Taylor kept one eye on the broadcast while describing to The Associated Press how he followed the Red Sox after his family moved to North Carolina. He returned for high school in the Boston suburb of Milton - during the lean years of the early 1960s - and became a Fenway regular in the '90s through his wife's friendship with Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa.
After the Red Sox won the '04 Series, ending an 86-year title drought, Taylor quickly came up with the music for "Angels of Fenway." But it took him a while to work out the lyrics, finally deciding to "sequester" himself away for one week at a time until the words were on paper.
"It took me a long time to get back into the saddle of writing lyrics again," Taylor said.
The song and video will be hosted on RedSox.com starting Monday, with the 10-song album to be released on June 16. The single is filled with Boston and baseball references as it traces the history of the sport's most passionate rivalry.
"Eighty-six summers gone by," it begins, followed by references to Babe Ruth and 1918, the year the Red Sox won their last title before selling the slugger to the Yankees, "Something that they never should have, ever have done."
Wearing a Red Sox T-shirt and a baseball cap featuring Ted Williams' retired No. 9, the five-time Grammy winner also threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He was scheduled to sing "America the Beautiful" during the seventh-inning stretch.
Taylor said he has sung at Fenway Park about a half-dozen times, including the national anthem before Game 2 of the '04 Series. He is scheduled to play a concert at the ballpark with Bonnie Raitt on Aug. 6.