From Mormon Tabernacle Choir gig to World Series 'flub?' Or did James Taylor intend a 'mashup?'

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 29 2013 12:30 p.m. MDT

James Taylor performs the national anthem at the World Series.

YouTube screenshot

SALT LAKE CITY — James Taylor's had quite a year, whether he bobbled the beginning of the national anthem at the World Series or not.

Taylor's only concert in 2013 is the one he performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City in September. Instead of touring, he is working on a new album. Still, he began the year in January by singing at President Barack Obama's second inauguration, and a new collection of his hits, "The Essential James Taylor," goes on sale today.

But the most attention Taylor gets all year might surround the two songs he performed last week in Boston at Game 2 of the World Series.

At the invitation of the Red Sox, he sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" as part of the pre-game festivities and then "America the Beautiful" during the seventh-inning stretch. Taylor, who was born in Boston, sang the national anthem before Game 2s of the World Series in 2004 and 2007, and the Red Sox won both times.

This time, Taylor appeared to muff the start of the anthem, actually singing the first two words to "America the Beautiful" — "Oh, beautiful..." — before deftly transitioning to "Oh, say can you see... ." The Red Sox committed errors of their own during the game and lost.

The reaction online was swift. There were football references, with some calling Taylor's blunder a false start or a fumble. There were baseball references, of course, dubbing it strike one! or a save or error.

Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (@TheJK_Kid) tweeted, "And the game will start with an 0-1 count after that James Taylor swing and miss... ."

Headline writers had their fun, too:

BayouBuzz.com: "James Taylor bats anthem out of order at World Series"

L.A. Times: "O say! James Taylor mashes national anthem, 'America the Beautiful'"

Las Vegas Guardian: "James Taylor anthem goof called foul"

CNN: "James Taylor flubs national anthem, recovers smoothly"

Taylor's transition was so graceful some thought he was singing a medley, a montage or a mashup. He isn't saying. His Facebook page offers no clues. His team posted an entry about Taylor singing "America the Beautiful" with his wife, Kim Smedvig, and son Henry while standing with survivors of April's Boston Marathon bombing, but there is no mention of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

ABC News business correspondent Darren Rovell sent a tweet with one explanation for how it may have been easier for Taylor, beyond his 45 years as a professional performer, to get a handle on the song so quickly, if the start indeed was unintentional.

"James Taylor got lucky last night that 'America the Beautiful' and the 'Star-Spangled Banner' are often sung in same key (B-flat)."

Several writers created lists of others who struggled with the national anthem. We couldn't get this link to Taylor's 2004 World Series national anthem to work, but the story where the link is found on MLB.com quotes Taylor talking about the song's difficulty after he sang.

"It goes by real fast, but there's nothing like it," he said.

"It's pretty rangy," he added. "You need to sort of get the low note as low as you can get it so you can live with the high note and hit the high note."

Maybe to take some of the edge off, or maybe it's just his personality, Harry Connick Jr. joked about it on Twitter before singing the national anthem for Game 5 last night:

Harry Connick, Jr. ‏@HarryConnickJR 27 Oct: "i'm singing the national anthem at game 5 tomorrow in st louis on @FOXSports !!! to make it younger, i'll be changing the 1st word to 'yo'."

Don't worry, he didn't.

So far, there is no official video available of Taylor performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony last month at the annual Tanner Gift of Music concert, though YouTube has a video from concertgoers. The concert is expected to air on BYUtv in 2014. Visit www.byutv.org for details.

Taylor said "the Tabernacle Choir is a national treasure and a great gift to the world." After his trip to Salt Lake City, his team posted pictures of him playing the Tabernacle organ on his Facebook page.

Read Doug Robinson's Deseret News story about covering one of his favorite recording artists at the concert here:

Watch an interview with Taylor and his wife by CNN's Brooke Baldwin before Game 2 here. In the interview he talks about the spiritual ability of music to heal: "Music reminds us the universe loves us," he said. "It's a human language, but it's also a physical reality in the universe, undeniable, empirically true. It shows us that there is grace. It's no mistake that the church has always been the home of music and that it's always associated with spiritual things."

For a little more on Taylor's wife and their twin sons, see the Boston Herald.

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