The Playlist

An Open Letter to James Taylor on his Cancelled Manila Concert

Dear Mr. Taylor,

You don’t know me. And I don’t know you. But I love you.

I love you because of your music. I love you because your voice and your songs are a tonic for my soul. “Sweet Baby James”, “Up On The Roof”, “Carolina In My Mind” and “Fire and Rain” are enough to make any day brighter and more beautiful. I love you because you worked with Carole King and Joni Mitchell. I love you because you were the first non-English artist signed to Apple Records. The Beatles loved you and I love you. I grew up with your music, even before I could understand the words I heard. I love you because my older brothers and sisters loved you. And then I loved you because I rediscovered your music on my own.

It’s a love that’s so deep that it’s not even articulated. I would casually mention the artists I’d love to see in concert, artists like Adele or Bruno Mars, but never mention your name because the probability that you would ever come to the Philippines was so small. But then there was that glorious moment in October when it was announced that you’d have a show here. Here, in the Philippines! It was too much to hope for yet it came true. I bought tickets the moment they were available – for me, my sister, brother, sister-in-law and niece. It was going to be an amazing night for all of us to finally hear you live.

Then came another announcement. This time it was the worst possible blow for us. You had cancelled your show because of political reasons. I want to understand you and respect your decision. Like I said, I don’t know you. Our idols become such a part of our lives through their art that we fans sometimes forget that they are people too. Maybe you have your own deep reasons for not wanting to come here. Maybe you have your own beliefs for which you feel you must make a stand. But somehow I can’t help feeling shortchanged about it all. Why are we being punished for something that we have absolutely no control over? We’re the ones living in this situation that we never asked for, that makes us feel so helpless everyday, and on top of that we’re the ones being penalized for it? Like I said, we forget that you’re a person too. So maybe you will understand why I’m taking this personally. I feel so let down.

And the thing is, it’s not like I’m going to stop loving you. That’s not going to happen. I was watching your Kennedy Center Honors special the other day, and I was just overflowing with love for you and what you have meant to me all my life. Which is what makes this whole situation so heartbreaking. Your music is embedded in my heart and soul but it’s like you uninvited me and now I’ll forever be on the outside looking in. And you don’t know how sad you have made me.

But like I said, you don’t even know me.

Sadly,

Sandy

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