Singer-songwriter and general force of nature, the great Carole King turns 71 today.
King’s first solo record, 1970’s Writer, was a commercial flop, but the following year, her Tapestry album captured the public’s attention, worldwide. Tapestry‘s laid-back, folksy, very feminine-centered compositions—something still quite “new” then, Joni Mitchell was also breaking big around this same time—saw the record become an immediate chart success. The lead-off single from the album, “It’s Too Late”/“I Feel The Earth Move” was number 1 on the Billboard charts for five weeks. The confessional Tapestry was nominated for four Grammy awards and King was given statues for Album of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Record of the Year (“It’s Too Late”) and Song of the Year (“You’ve Got a Friend”).
Tapestry went on to become one of the top-selling record albums in history. In fact, with well over 25 million copies sold worldwide, 10 million in the US alone, the album was the first to be certified “diamond.” Its sales tallies have been bested only by Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Its chart run, holding down the #1 rank for an incredible fifteen weeks was the record for a female solo artist for over 40 years until Tapestry was surpassed by Adele’s worldwide blockbuster 21 in 2012. All in all Tapestry has been on the Billboard Top 200 for over 300 weeks between 1971 and 2011.
I’ve actually purchased Tapestry on three formats over the years on vinyl, CD and then twice on two different SACD releases (I’m forever searching for “the best version” of something). It’s one of the most essential albums I own. How could anyone not like Carole King???
In 1971, Carole King taped an amazing live studio set—more or less “unplugged” before such a concept existed—for the BBC’s In Concert series, with James Taylor on acoustic guitar.
Set list: “I Feel the Earth Move,” “(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman,” “So Far Away,” “It’s Too Late,” “Smackwater Jack,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” and “Up on the Roof.”
I was absolutely floored by the quality of this set. I hope you will be, too.