Thursday, February 10, 2011

Carole King -- Aquarian

Because of my age, Tapestry was one of the iconic albums of my youth and Carole King one of the first women I saw on the cover of an album filled with songs she had written.


That was something, for girls my age, because rock and roll was full of male performers, all-male bands, and women singing songs by men. There were probably lots of women trying to do what King did, but she was the first one I saw and recognized as different.

And it wasn't all about the hair or the makeup or the dress. She didn't seem manufactured--although she had probably found an image that worked for her, which she's kept throughout her career and, frankly, personal life.

Plus, the songs were singable, the lyrics interesting, and they seemed to be about girls, or women, which msot rock and roll songs weren't, except from an objectifying, "Oh, aren't you pretty" kind of way. They were about being inside the feelings, feeling the feelings, doing the loving, being the friend, not just being looked at.

And from that standpoint, "You've Got a Friend" is one of the most Aquarian songs, ever. Right?

But if Tapestry is everything you know about King--and for a long time, it was, for me--you're missing 90% of the event. Before Tapestry she carved out a career as a spngwriter starting in 1961 ("Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?") through this past decade, when she was still releasing new songs, touring (with James Taylor among others), and appearing on stage on on albums with others. She's written songs for TV and film and continued to write new songs for other performers. Her roll of songs and recordings is amazing.

And kind of inspirational, considering she was a Brooklyn girl growing up in the 1950s: clearly, she had a big dream and talent, and followed that.

I also love that she's continued to write new songs, for herself and others, and obviously cultivated strong relationships with people in the business. Other artists want to collaborate with her, and songwriters and performers recognize her talent.

I find it ironic that despite the fact that Tapestry broke all business records and won awards (4 Grammys, for example) and defined "platinum" before that definition existed in the music industry, despite the fact that that album alone stayed on charts and held records for 11 years (kicked out by Michael Jackson's Thriller), it only made #36 on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums, and it took until 1987 for her to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and until 1990 to make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And both times, she was inducted with her former writing partner and ex-husband, Gerry Goffin.

She also has four children from her first two marriages, which can't have been easy: working in the music business (mostly in LA) and raising kids.

1 comment:

  1. Tapestry was the first LP I ever purchased with my money. I have sent bought it as a cassette, then as a CD, and finally, as an MP3. My daughters have all made off with previous versions. I had the opportunity to meet her last spring when she was on tour with James Taylor. I was amazed by her genuine manner and the high energy of the concert itself.

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