This Year We Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Carole King's 1971 Album Tapestry
Carole King is one of 16 nominees for the 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Whether or not she’s inducted, she’s one of the greatest songwriters of the rock era.
(The announcement of the 5 successful inductees is due later this month - we’ll have to wait and see. King was inducted in 1990 with her song-writing partner Gerry Goffin—her list of awards appears further on.)
Her classic album Tapestry turned 50 this year. Rolling Stone recently named it the 25th greatest album of all time.
“An enduring reminder of how art can stay engrained in our cultural consciousness.” - Esquire
This writer turned 21 the year the album came out—then only available in vinyl or tape cassette! Tapestry was the No 1 album for 15 weeks straight, sold over 14-million copies and garnered many awards.
Many of the songs will be familiar to you:
- I Feel the Earth Move
- So Far Away
- It's Too Late (lyrics by Toni Stern)
- Home Again
- Way Over Yonder
- You've Got a Friend"
- Where You Lead I Will Follow (Stern/King)
- Will You Love Me Tomorrow? (Goffin/King)
- Smackwater Jack (Goffin, King)
- You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman (Goffin, King, Jerry Wexler)
Born Carole Klein to Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York on February 9, 1942, Carole King was a proficient pianist by the age of four.
She met her future writing partner and husband, Gerry Goffin, while a student at Queens College. Her 1960 single "Oh! Neil," was a riposte to her friend Neil Sedaka’s song "Oh! Carol." Though not a hit, Don Kirshner signed the King/Goffin team to his Aldon Music Empire.
For the next seven years, the duo wrote a string of chart-toppers:
- Will You Love Me Tomorrow (The Shirelles)
- Take Good Care of My Baby (Bobby Vee)
- Up On the Roof (The Drifters)
- The Loco-Motion (Little Eva)
- One Find Day (The Chiffons)
- Go Away Little Girl (Steve Lawrence)
- Don’t Bring Me Down (The Animals)
- I’m Into Something Good (Herman’s Hermits)
- Pleasant Valley Sunday (The Monkees)
- You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman (Aretha Franklin)
King moved to Los Angeles with her two daughters in 1967 after her divorce from Goffin. She formed the rock group the City, featuring Danny Kortchmar on guitar and Charles Larkey (the second of her four husbands) on bass. They only recorded one album, Now That Everything’s Been Said.
King released her first solo album, Writer, in 1970, often underrated, and followed that in 1971 with Tapestry.
“One of the best albums, ever, by one of the best songwriters, ever. Period.”—Joan Armatrading.
Carole King’s career history
The best way to illustrate the life’s work of such a prolific artist who has released over 30 albums, is to list her achievements over half a century:
- 1972 - Grammy Award: Album of the Year for Tapestry
- 1972 - Grammy Award: Record of the Year for It’s Too Late
- 1972 - Grammy Award: Song of the Year for You’ve Got a Friend
- 1972 - Grammy Award: Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Tapestry
- 1987 - Songwriters Hall of Fame (with Goffin)
- 1988 - National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award (with Goffin)
- 1990 - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, non-performer category for songwriting (with Goffin)
- 1998 - Grammy Hall of Fame for Tapestry
- 2002 - Songwriters Hall of Fame “Johnny Mercer Award”
- 2002 - Grammy Hall of Fame for You’ve Got a Friend
- 2002 - Grammy Hall of Fame for It’s Too Late
- 2004 - Grammy Trustees Award (with Gerry Goffin)
- 2007 - Long Island Music Hall of Fame
- 2012 - Hollywood Walk of Fame - King receives the 2,486th star
- 2013 - Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2013 - President Obama presents her with the 5th Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the first awarded to a woman composer
- 2013 - Awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music
- 2014 - Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement
- 2014 - MusiCares Person of the Year (The charity provides support to music people in time of need)
- 2015 - Kennedy Center Honors—honoured for her lifetime contribution to American culture through the performing arts.
“I think you could make a pretty good case that Carole King and Gerry Goffin were the best popular songwriters of the last half of the 20th century. I love Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. Everything she sings is deeply felt.”—Randy Newman.
"I just sort of try to be a good person; try to write music that lifts people and makes me feel good to sing."—Carole King.
Her performances from home have brought us light and beauty during the coronavirus pandemic. May she continue to inspire and give us the strength to see it through!