James Taylor on being a Medal of Freedom recipient

James Taylor

CBS News

WASHINGTON -- President Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to an incredible array of great Americans on Tuesday. People like Barbra Streisand, Stephen Sondheim, Yogi Berra, Willie Mays, and Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman in Congress.

Seventeen people who changed America for the better.

They've enriched our lives with music, thrilled us on the field, and made movies leap off the screen.

James Taylor was one of the recipients, honored for his fifty years of exploring life through music.

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President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to singer-songwriter James Taylor
Alex Wong, Getty Images

"The issues that still compel me are still the same ones," Taylor told CBS News. "Songs are like puzzles that you fit together, that you find the pieces that fit with each other, and often it's a surprise that takes you."

Taylor said he'll continue to play and make music as long as he is able.

"It's hard to believe that I'm closer to the end than the beginning. I'll carry on as long as there seems to be support for it."

Because, in the words of another one of today's honorees Yogi Berra, "it ain't over till it's over."

And as the great Yankee catcher also said, "you can observe a lot by just watching."

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent