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Q + A James Taylor

The singer, who goes on tour this month, performed America the Beautiful before Boston's home opener on Monday

SI: You've sung before a couple of New England sporting events now, including the 1997 AFC Championship Game and Game 2 of the 2004 World Series. Is that a different kind of gig than the ones you're used to?

Taylor: Utterly different. It's a larger crowd, and you definitely don't get the feeling that you are the center of attention. You're an aspect of it, but you're basically chipping in to the general event. And then there's the acoustics of ballparks. There's such a powerful echo that comes back that you need to hold on tight not to get lost.

SI: You're a big baseball fan. Ever write a song about it?

Taylor: Songs sort of show up. You can never really guess where they are going to come from. I considered Curt Schilling's performance last year to be heroic and epic. At the time I was thinking about trying to write a song about that.

SI: Who have been your favorite athletes to watch?

Taylor: Greg Louganis and Muhammad Ali. I was at the Ali-Frazier fight [at Madison Square Garden] on March 8, 1971. The amazing thing is, I had the Garden booked for that night. Then they announced the fight, and my manager said, "Hang on a second here. I think I have a contract with the Garden for that night." Sure enough we had the thing booked a year in advance. It was amazing, the negotiations. They gave us a night a couple of nights later and also tickets to the fight. Not too bad at all.

SI: Where were you during the final game of last year's Yankees--Red Sox ALCS?

Taylor: I was in Santa Monica to do an episode of The West Wing, and when Johnny Damon (left, with Taylor) hit that grand slam, I was in a car going from the lot to a recording studio. The driver was from Providence, and we just went crazy. We probably should not have been allowed to stay on the road. --R.D.