The Paul McCartney Project

Carolina in My Mind

Written by James Taylor

Album This song officially appears on the James Taylor Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1968

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Carolina in My Mind” is a song written and performed by singer-songwriter James Taylor, which first appeared on his 1968 debut album, James Taylor. Taylor wrote it while overseas recording for the Beatles’ label Apple Records, and the song’s themes reflect his homesickness at the time. Released as a single, the song earned critical praise but not commercial success. It was re-recorded for Taylor’s 1976 Greatest Hits album in the version that is most familiar to listeners. It has been a staple of Taylor’s concert performances over the decades of his career. […]

Song and recordings

The song references Taylor’s years growing up in North Carolina. Taylor wrote it while overseas recording for the Beatles’ label Apple Records. He started writing the song at producer Peter Asher’s London flat on Marylebone High Street, resumed work on it while on holiday on the Mediterranean island of Formentera, and then completed it while stranded on the nearby island of Ibiza with Karin, a Swedish girl he had just met. The song reflects Taylor’s homesickness at the time, as he was missing his family, his dog and his state.

Dark and silent late last night,
I think I might have heard the highway callingĀ …
Geese in flight and dogs that bite
And signs that might be omens say I’m going, I’m going
I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.

The original recording of the song was done at London’s Trident Studios during the July to October 1968 period, and was produced by Asher. The song’s lyric “holy host of others standing around me” makes reference to the Beatles, who were recording The Beatles in the same studio where Taylor was recording his album. Indeed, the recording of “Carolina in My Mind” featured a credited appearance by Paul McCartney on bass guitar and an uncredited one by George Harrison on backing vocals. The other players were Freddie Redd on organ, Joel “Bishop” O’Brien on drums, and Mick Wayne providing a second guitar alongside Taylor’s. Taylor and Asher also did backing vocals and Asher added a tambourine. Richard Hewson arranged and conducted a string part; an even more ambitious 30-piece orchestra part was recorded but not used. The song itself earned critical praise, with Jon Landau’s April 1969 review for Rolling Stone calling it “beautiful” and one of the “two most deeply affecting cuts” on the album and praising McCartney’s bass playing as “extraordinary“. Taylor biographer Timothy White calls the song “the album’s quiet masterpiece.

The song was first released on Taylor’s eponymous debut album in December 1968 (February 1969 in the United States), and was later released as a single in the UK in February 1969 and in the United States in March 1969. However, owing to the same problems which plagued the release of the album (namely, Taylor’s inability to promote it due to his hospitalization for drug addiction), the single’s original release reached only No. 118 on US pop charts and failed to chart in the UK. Indeed, Taylor had fallen back into addiction during the London recording sessions, and his line about being surrounded by Beatles had been immediately followed by Still I’m on the dark side of the moon. Following the success of Taylor’s second album, Sweet Baby James, and its hit single “Fire and Rain“, “Carolina in My Mind” was reissued by Apple as a single in October 1970 and rose to No. 67 on the U.S. charts. (A previously unreleased acoustic demo of “Carolina in My Mind” was issued as a bonus track on the 2010 Apple Records remastering of James Taylor.)

Different versions of both this song and “Something in the Way She Moves” were remade by Taylor for use on his 1976 Greatest Hits album because of the difficulty of obtaining licensing rights from Apple during the 1970s and because of uncertainty about where the Apple masters were. The new recordings were done in October 1976 at The Sound Factory in Los Angeles and production was again done by Peter Asher. […]

Lyrics

In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina
Can't you see the sunshine
Can't you just feel the moonshine
Ain't it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind
Yes I'm goin' to Carolina in my mind

Karen she's a silver sun
You best walk her way and watch it shinin'
Watch her watch the mornin' come
A silver tear appearing now I'm cryin'
Ain't I goin' to Carolina in my mind

There ain't no doubt it no ones mind
That loves the finest thing around
Whisper something soft and kind
And hey babe the sky's on fire, I'm Dyin'
Ain't I goin' to Carolina in my mind

In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina
Can't you see the sunshine
Can't you just feel the moonshine
Ain't it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind
Yes I'm goin' to Carolina in my mind

Dark and silent late last night
I think I might have heard the highway calling
Geese in flight and dogs that bite
Signs that might be omens say I'm going, going
I'm goin' to Carolina in my mind

With a holy host of others standing 'round me
Still I'm on the dark side of the moon
And it seems like it goes on like this forever
You must forgive me
If I'm up and gone to Carolina in my mind

In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina
Can't you see the sunshine
Can't you just feel the moonshine
Ain't it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind
Yes I'm goin' to Carolina in my mind

Officially appears on


James Taylor

Official album • Released in 1968

Studio version

Paul McCartney :
Bass
George Harrison :
Backing vocals
Richard Hewson :
String arrangement
James Taylor :
Backing vocals, Guitar, Vocals
Freddie Redd :
Organ
Joel O'Brien :
Drums
Mick Wayne :
Guitar
Peter Asher :
Backing vocals, Tambourine

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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How might we design interdisciplinary projects? – Janelle Crane 3 years ago

[…] Taylor wrote the song about his childhood home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He wrote it while living in London, and wrote it because he was feeling homesick (https://www.the-paulmccartney-project.com/song/carolina-in-my-mind/). […]


Ellen Rothenberg 7 months ago

How can I listen to the original version of this song? I can only fine the 2nd version, not from the 1st album


The PaulMcCartney Project 7 months ago

Hi Ellen, I believe it's available on Spotify for instance - try this link https://open.spotify.com/track/6JOSJqqpAKoD4s3qbNDcPT?si=g_G5xssUTyy4qpCeWJLblQ