I stumbled upon James Taylor inevitably after researching Carole King, and from his interviews I can see where his lyric-writing capabilities come from. Just look at how he describes practicing music:
People say there’s a real cultural bias to what people consider musical and what emotional states they relate to what harmonic equivalence. People say major is happy and minor is sad, or a diminished chord has a certain amount of tension and wariness to it, or a 13th chord is apprehensive, and when you have an augmented fifth and you let it fall into a chord a fourth above it, anyone feels that as home. If you play an E augmented 5th and then go to an A, no matter who hears that, they will feel there has been tension and resolution. So I feel that music exists outside of human consciousness. So to practice music at all is to give human consciousness the slip. That’s why it’s so associated with spirituality. Because to listen to it is to experience another type of reality. And one that must be true, because it’s mathematically true. It is physics. Music is physics.– James Taylor: The American Songwriter Interview, Part II
I also loved this part about the human existence:
It’s just a long, hard lonely slog being constantly human and having the responsibility of having to reinvent the world every second. It is a lonesome road. So that’s a type of song I write too.