"Tapestry": Carole King withAn Album for My Softer Side


Carole King's Tapestry has sold over 25 million copies.

I've blogged about albums from the Beatles and the Stones, Pink Floyd, Springsteen, and U2. But sometimes, Mick Jagger or Bruce can be a little harsh on the ears. At those times I can turn to mellow Crosby Stills and Nash or jazzy Steely Dan.

But a nice change of pace is to turn to albums from the fabulous female singer-songwriters of the 60's and 70's. The Carly Simon' catalogue and Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark are near the top, but can anything compare to Carole King's 1971 multi-million selling masterpiece, Tapestry?

I didn't know who Carole King was, but when It's Too Late first hit the radio airwaves, I was hooked. It lasted as the best break-up song from a female singer until Adelle took a  different approach to the subject with Rolling in the Deep almost 40 years later.

You've Got a Friend, Natural Woman, Where You Lead, Will You Love me Tomorrow are all classic songs, interpreted by many different artists, but all hanging together on Tapestry to set a mood and a time. There's lots more great material, including Smackwater Jack and So Far Away.

The album had plenty of competition for my attention that year, and I have no objections to those who say 1971 was the greatest year in rock music. But I could only listen to so much Who's Next or Led Zeppelin IV without needing a break from the volume. Tapestry was there for me. It became the soundtrack for a summer high school romance. And as the coup de grâce, there was even a cat on the cover. What could have been more Beautiful?

As Jon Landau said in Rolling Stone in 1971:

"(Tapestry) is an album of surpassing personal-intimacy and musical accomplishment and a work infused with a sense of artistic purpose. It is also easy to listen to and easy to enjoy."

..and since you asked, yes we did see Beautiful on Broadway a few years ago, with Jessie Mueller in her star turn as Carole King. It's a fun biomusical, filled with many wonderful songs and King's story of love, hurt, and competition. See it if you can.

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