Feb 10, 1971 - Carole King - Tapestry
February 10, 2020 10:06 PM   Subscribe

It's hard to describe how huge the impact of Carole King's second album, Tapestry, released 49 years ago today. She was the Billie Eilish of her day, winning the top four Grammys and selling billions of streams millions of albums with her strong presence and her personal style. Every song written by her, keyboards/piano by her, this is her. Listen for the first time, or listen again; it's truly great. Side A: I Feel The Earth Move, So Far Away, It's Too Late, Home Again, Beautiful, Way Over Yonder posted by hippybear (41 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
Pitchfork editor Jenn Pelly recently did a nice in-depth look at Tapestry and King's pretty amazing career leading up to it.
posted by theory at 10:19 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I distinctly remember feeling about every single song on that album, as I did for most of the tracks on its rough contemporaries Sgt Peppers and Dark Side, that what I was hearing was in some way both necessary and inevitable. As if it was not new music at all, but something that people had to have been listening to approximately forever because of course that song goes like that.

I don't think that's merely a tween/teen boy thing, and it's certainly not a this-sounds-like-everything music-in-blue-type-on-a-white-can thing. I think it's a fucking genius songwriter performer thing. For me it's certainly a rare thing.

Thanks for this post.
posted by flabdablet at 10:37 PM on February 10 [14 favorites]


It's Too Late is one of my favorite songs. It just works, actually thrives, on so many levels.

Thanks HippyBear!
posted by AugustWest at 12:29 AM on February 11


It's a great album that I bought when it first came out. Carole blew our minds; she was in many ways the embodiment of we southern California hippies. I don't really think she was the Billie Eilish of her day though... King was and is much more talented (song writing, piano and guitar) and not so edgy or angsty. But I get the association.

To add to the excellent list of videos above, this is nice one of her playing (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman (Live from Oakland - 1972) live.
posted by rmmcclay at 1:54 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Enormously talented and very prolific songwriter, straight outta the old school Brill Building era as a hit songwriter for others, then on to hippie stardom of her own.

One of Aretha's most fabulous and inspired performances was her interpretation of King's (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:15 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Perhaps even more wonderful than the original interpretation of A Natural Woman is Aretha's mature re-visiting at the Kennedy Center Honors 2015 for Carole King.
posted by domdib at 4:49 AM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Trying to think of other pro songwriters who later emerged as very successful performing artists. Willie Nelson, I guess... it seems rare that someone has the skill to write material for other artists, and the vocal ability and charisma to themselves become a front person.
posted by thelonius at 5:21 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


After a year or two of spending my extra change on Stevie Wonder and Elton John 45s, I had to save up my allowance for weeks to buy Tapestry, the first album I ever owned. For me, it will always sound like all the feelings of my childhood.
posted by fuzz at 5:35 AM on February 11 [10 favorites]


thelonius writes: Trying to think of other pro songwriters who later emerged as very successful performing artists.

Isaac Hayes! He wrote Soul Man, When Something Is Wrong with My Baby, and Hold On, I'm Comin' (no less!) for soul superstars Sam and Dave, before his own career as frontman performer took off.

There have been a number of session players who have gone on to big solo careers of their own, as well, including Leon Russel and Glen Campbell, both of whom started as Wrecking Crew session men.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:36 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


My dad left my mom sometime in 1971 (I don't know the date, but I bet she still remembers), and she embarked on a five-year journey of rediscovery as a 28-year-old single, working mom with me in tow. In hindsight, it was perfectly timed to coincide with feminism, Free to Be You and Me, and Mary Richards. Tapestry is the soundtrack of my childhood, along with Carly Simon's No Secrets - melancholy, but with an undeniable spirit of independence. (My mom's my hero, BTW)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:55 AM on February 11 [21 favorites]


It's Too Late has that line that just kind of hangs in the air forever saying DANG: "Still I'm glad for what we had and how I once loved you"
.
.
.
Ow
posted by wellred at 5:56 AM on February 11 [10 favorites]


flapjack, I did not know that about Hayes or Russell. I thought of Campbell as a session player (Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones too), yeah.
posted by thelonius at 6:05 AM on February 11


I really don't see how she could be called the Billie Eilish of her day.

Eilish is a teen who made music with her brother in her bedroom and amassed a huge online following. She is a total outsider who bypassed much of the music industry's machinery on her way to success.

King was a professional songwriter who was on staff at the Brill Building in the 1960s and was a major force in pop music with her husband Gerry Goffin for close to a decade before she had any real success with music under her own name (aside from an early hit with 'It Might As Well Rain Until September). She's written over 100 Billboard charting songs. She's the definition of an industry pro.
posted by jordantwodelta at 6:17 AM on February 11 [18 favorites]


Trying to think of other pro songwriters who later emerged as very successful performing artists. Willie Nelson, I guess... it seems rare that someone has the skill to write material for other artists, and the vocal ability and charisma to themselves become a front person.

There's been quite a few in the last few decades. Pharrell Williams was primarily a songwriter and producer for artists like Jay-Z, Britney Spears, and Gwen Stefani. Meghan Trainor got her start as a songwriter for hire in Nashville before becoming known as a performer. And Sia (of "Chandelier" fame) wrote songs for Rihanna, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, and others. She even released an album in 2016 called "This Is Acting" of all songs she had written for other artists who had rejected them.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 6:17 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Trying to think of other pro songwriters who later emerged as very successful performing artists. Willie Nelson, I guess... it seems rare that someone has the skill to write material for other artists, and the vocal ability and charisma to themselves become a front person.

I would point to Kris Kristofferson, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Kacey Musgraves.
posted by jordantwodelta at 6:25 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


There was a good documentary about her on American Masters (I think) recently. She was married, had small kids and her favorite night out was playing cards with her mom and her mom's friends. She had this mystique of being a free spirit wild-child but she was kind of a home body who worked a LOT. Anyway, it was a good documentary with lots of interviews with her and her contemporaries.

Great album.
posted by SoberHighland at 6:47 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I really don't see how she could be called the Billie Eilish of her day.


OP probably referring mostly to the Grammy category wins more than the industry relationship.
posted by filtergik at 6:49 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Her demo of Pleasant Valley Sunday gives me the chills:

Link
posted by SoberHighland at 6:54 AM on February 11 [7 favorites]


She could have doled out these songs, one or two per album, and had a 20-year headlining career. But no, she just dropped them all at once. Staggering talent.
posted by sensate at 7:10 AM on February 11 [7 favorites]


> Sweetie Darling: Tapestry is the soundtrack of my childhood, along with Carly Simon's No Secrets - melancholy, but with an undeniable spirit of independence.

Yeah, this is my experience as well. I almost can't listen to Tapestry because it is just too tied up in all the events and feelings that surrounded my childhood. It's like listening to memory or something.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:06 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I have my mom’s copy of Tapestry, which just feels right for an heirloom. The cover is perfect for the content.

I really enjoyed Sheila Weller’s book Girls Like Us, about King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon.
posted by sallybrown at 8:09 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Billie Eilish had a whole PR team in place before she ever released any music. She is definitely not an outsider.

Troubador's is a great documentary with lots of interview footage with King. Pretty much all of her stories are amazing.
posted by 99_ at 8:30 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


This album makes me feel nostalgic for a life and a time that I never actually experienced personally.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:31 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I love this album, even though I didn't come to it until the late eighties. Also, we shouldn't make this post about Eilish vs. King. They are different people from different worlds.
posted by mecran01 at 9:18 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I think Eilish has that scrappy little young warriors heart, but lacks the knees for anything beyond round 3. King has height, reach, weight and the maturity and experience to go the distance. Not a bloodbath, necessarily, but certainly a learning experience for Billie.
posted by Chitownfats at 10:42 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


On reflexes though, and young person stamina Eilish has the edge. She probably hasn’t really spent a lot of time on energy management and so forth, so as long as King follows the Ali script, I’m favoring the heavyweight here. When’s the bout?
posted by mwhybark at 10:46 AM on February 11


Here's Über-guitarist Eric Johnson in King's 1982 band.
posted by thelonius at 10:48 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


OK JIM, I GOTTA TELL YA SOMETHING, EILISH IS A BAD GUY WITH A SOLID LEFT HAND, AND I THINK IT'S TOO LATE FOR THE CHAMP. I HAVE THE KID 7 ROUNDS TO 2.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:15 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Billie Eilish had a whole PR team in place before she ever released any music. She is definitely not an outsider.

She got signed to Interscope after uploading her own music to Soundcloud. This is not an unusual path to a record deal today. I'd love to see your evidence of her PR team past rumors and finger-pointing from sour grapes musicians and fans jealous of her wealthy background and professional support during the several years it took her to release her first album.
posted by jordantwodelta at 11:16 AM on February 11


"Still I'm glad for what we had and how I once loved you"

Literarily, thank u next
posted by xigxag at 11:18 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


nostalgic for a life and a time that I never actually experienced personally.

There has to be a name for this, right? For me, it's the occasional Roxy Music song, and tons of Northern Soul.
posted by kimota at 11:24 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


There has to be a name for this, right? For me, it's the occasional Roxy Music song, and tons of Northern Soul.

I've seen plain old "false nostalgia" used but I think to a considerable extent the term "hauntology" would apply.
posted by xigxag at 11:47 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


She got signed to Interscope after uploading her own music to Soundcloud. This is not an unusual path to a record deal today. I'd love to see your evidence of her PR team past rumors and finger-pointing from sour grapes musicians and fans jealous of her wealthy background and professional support during the several years it took her to release her first album.

I'm not contesting how record labels promote talent, and I don't quite understand the second part about jealousy? I mean I made a factual statement supported by a link posted just after my comment - I mean, it's an article from her team bragging about their strategy.

I like her music and I'm glad a scrappy upstart from [checks notes] Highland Park can get the attention of people who are paid to promote music. The system, as it's current constructed, worked very well for her. I disagree that a meeting with a PR team within a couple days of uploading a song qualifies her as a 'total outsider.'
posted by 99_ at 11:50 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying you're jealous - I'm saying that a lot of the 'conspiracy theories' being posted online about Eilish have been 'planted' by the music biz come from the sources I mentioned.
posted by jordantwodelta at 12:03 PM on February 11


Good Lord, can we stop with the irrelevant Billie bashing?
posted by DrAstroZoom at 12:24 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


I'm saying that a lot of the 'conspiracy theories' being posted online about Eilish have been 'planted' by the music biz come from the sources I mentioned.

I'm not familiar with those, and perhaps they are just confusion by pop music fans about how much of the industry functions, but having Chanel help you create your style when you are 15 certainly gives you an edge in a hyper-comptetive industry. It doesn't make you any more of "plant" than anyone else who finds success in music.

I assume some of this is people just taking pains to point out that Taylor Swift, who was often dinged for her industry connections from an early age, bascially had the same development track.

Carole King, though having a similar Grammy sweep, worked for years in probably more exploitative (or at least, less lucrative) conditions (she and her husband had a pretty middle class existence for a number of years) before finding significant success.

It's sort of fruitless to use music as a mirror for one's politics, which seems to be the subtext of 'outsider/insider' dichotomy. By definition, almost every act you will have some common knowledge of outside of people at your local club has engaged a system designed to extract maximum profit from its existence, and most of the time the acts themselves are happy to abet this process. A lot music enjoyment is going to be mostly formal if you have any sort of critique of capitalism - Billie Eilish doesn't need any sort of false narrative about her social status. She makes music, people like it, she's using her success to talk about personal political interests. Good for her.
posted by 99_ at 12:31 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Carole King saw 20-year old Mariah Carey on the Arsenio Hall show and was so impressed she asked her team if Mariah wanted to cover "A Natural Woman." Mariah declined because well, that's Aretha's song. So Carole flew out to write a new song with Mariah (with, not for) for her second album, which she threw down at the 1992 Grammys live.

thanks for coming to my Ted talk
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:49 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


will you still love me tomorrow and up on the roof done by laura nyro

also another brill building songwriter who made good as a singer was neil diamond
posted by pyramid termite at 2:06 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


See, this is why I usually don't try to say much about anything when I compose a post. Just be as neutral as possible. Because mentioning King's Grammy load for this album and drawing a connection with another woman who just won everything at the most recent Grammys suddenly somehow HAD SOME KIND OF DEEP MEANING or something.

No, literally, she won the same Grammys or nearly equivalent. That was it. Honestly, the Oscars were the first time I'd heard Eilish sing anything at all. Just noting the awards.
posted by hippybear at 6:37 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, with Carole King, Rolling Stone brings us 10 Songs You Didn't Know Carole King Wrote

(Take Good Care Of My Baby, Chains, The Loco-Motion, He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss), Go Away Little Girl, Up On The Roof, I'm Into Something Good, Don't Bring Me Down, Porpoise Song (Theme From Head), If It's Over is the list. All tracks seem to be playable in the linked article.)
posted by hippybear at 10:11 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


One of my favorite LPs, I've cherished it since the day I bought it (49 years!!?). It was one of the few LPs I took to college.

Thanks Hippybear!
posted by james33 at 5:11 AM on February 12


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