Friday, January 29, 2021

More on Tapestry - 50 Years On

On February 10, 1971, Carole King released Tapestry through her label Ode Records. Her second solo effort, the LP was Billboard's No. 1 for 17 weeks, and it remained on the best-seller charts for six years, over 300 weeks! It received three Grammy Awards for Best Album, Best Record (the double-A single "It's Too Late"/"I Feel the Earth Move"), and Best Female vocalist.

The day before, Carole King turned 29, by which time she had been in the music business more than a decade – or more than 25 years if one goes back to the first record she cut: "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," at age 3, on the boardwalk at Coney Island.
Born Carol Joan Klein, on February 9, 1942, at eight years old, she appeared on the TV variety show, The Horn & Hardart Children's Hour, singing "If I Knew You Were Coming, I'd Have Baked a Cake." How fab is that? In high school, she formed a singing quartet called the Cosines, and assumed the stage name Carole King. After graduating, at age 16, she began studying at Queens College and met Gerry Goffin, a chemistry major and budding song lyricist. She and Goffin began writing together – Gerry the lyrics, Carole the music. When Carole got pregnant, they "did the right thing" and in August 1959, got married. Soon after, they were signed as songwriters for the New York music publisher Aldon, named for its owners Al Nevins and Don Kirshner. Carole was only 17.





Goffin and King cranked out one classic hit after the other: "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (recorded by the Shirelles, 1960), "Take Good Care of My Baby" (Bobby Vee, 1961), "Chains" (covered famously by the Beatles, in 1963), "The Loco-Motion" (first recorded in 1962 by Little Eva, who was Carole and Gerry's babysitter), "Go Away Little Girl" (Steve Lawrence, 1962); and "Don’t Bring Me Down" (recorded by The Animals in 1966). "The Loco-Motion" holds the distinction of being a No. 1 hit on three occasions, first by Little Eva, then by Grand Funk Railroad and last by Kylie Minogue.
King’s debut solo LP, Writer (1970), though well-reviewed, was not a commercial success. Then came Tapestry. Recorded in January 1971 at A&M Recording Studios, seven of its 12 songs – including "So Far Away," "You've Got a Friend" and "I Feel the Earth Move" – were by King exclusively; three were by King and Goffin (including "A Natural Woman," of which Jerry Wexler was also a co-writer), and two songs with lyrics by Toni Stern, another Laurel Canyon compatriot.
King provided keyboards and lead vocals with additional voices from Merry Clayton (The Stones' "Gimme Shelter"), Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, and backup musicians Danny Kortchmar, Russ Kunkel and bassist Charles Larkey (who became King's second husband, and father to two of her children). The album's cover showed King by the window of her home on Appian Way in the Hollywood Hills working on a needlepoint (a tapestry) with her cat Telemachus peering into the camera lens. There's some great trivia!
Critical reception was enthusiastic. Rolling Stone's Jon Landau called Tapestry a work of "surpassing personal-intimacy and musical accomplishment," and it went on to become one of the biggest-selling albums of all time with a total of more than 40 million sold to date. In 2003, Tapestry was one of 50 recordings chosen by the National Recording Registry to be placed in the Library of Congress as part of America's sound recording heritage.
Tapestry is a quiet, little LP that proves sometimes less is more - much more.

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