|First posted 6/19/2012; updated 12/10/2019.|
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Carole King made a name for herself in the 1960s as a songwriter with her husband, Gerry Goffin. They wrote hit songs for the Shirelles (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow?,” #1 in 1960), Bobby Vee (“Take Good Care of My Baby,” #1 in 1961), Little Eva (“The Loco-Motion,” #1 in 1962), Steve Lawrence (“Go Away Little Girl,” #1 in 1962), the Drifters (“Up on the Roof,” #5 in 1962), the Chiffons (“One Fine Day,” #5 in 1963), Herman’s Hermits (“I’m into Something Good,” #13 in 1964), the Righteous Brothers (“Just Once in My Life,” #9 in 1965), the Animals (“Don’t Bring Me Down,” #12 in 1966), the Monkees (“Pleasant Valley Sunday,” #3 in 1967), Aretha Franklin (“You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” #8 in 1967), and Blood, Sweat & Tears (“Hi-De-Ho,” #14 in 1970). (See a list of the top 50 songs written and/or performed by King here).
“Always a superior pop composer, King reaches even greater heights as a performer.” AMG The album “created the archetype of the female singer-songwriter” TL by bringing “the fledgling…phenomenon to the masses.” AMG King “insists on being heard as she is – not raunchy and hot-to-trot or sweet and be-yoo-ti-ful, just human, with all the cracks and imperfections that implies.” RC She “is casual, intimate, and tough; she covers all the emotional ground of the post-liberated woman with ease.” AZ It is “an intensely emotional record” AMG delivered with “disarming simplicity, and humane, undisguised sincerity.” GS Taylor said the album was comprised of “very personal, very accessible statements, built from the ground up with a simple, elegant architecture.” BN
“The music is loose, earthy, L.A. session-pop” AZ and while this is “Pacific rock…[it is delivered] with a sharpness worthy of a Brooklyn girl.” RC Tapestry “is not over-produced, which makes up a big part of the album’s homespun charm.” DV It “is a light and airy work on its surface, occasionally skirting the boundaries of jazz.” AMG It relies “on pianos and gentle drumming” AMG “with a few sonic flourishes and some saxophone and guitar here and there.” DV
“Instead of the music, Tapestry is carried by the hooks and riveting vocals from King.” DV Her “voice has limits, range chief among them, and that’s a critical part of Tapestry’s charm.” TL
You’ve Got a Friend
It took a push from King’s friend James Taylor to get her to start recording and performing her own songs. She released her first solo album, Writer, in 1970 and then the monstrous Tapestry followed a year later. She was working on it at the same time Taylor was recording his Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon album. They both recorded “You’ve Got a Friend,” which she wrote, using the same players. It came out first on her album, but his version became the chart-topping single. Both versions won Grammys – hers for Song of the Year and his for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Will You Love Me Tomorrow/Natural Woman
King also tapped into her songwriting catalog for a couple of the album’s recordings. While they may “have been worn thin by time and uninspired covers by every lounge singer in the world,” BN they “take on added resonance when delivered in her own warm, compelling voice.” AMG When “heard in the voice of the original songwriter, they still sound astonishingly fresh.” BN “Her take on ‘Natural Woman’ feels more vulnerable than Franklin’s, her slowed down Will You Love Me Tomorrow? more poignant than the Shirelles” TL by adding “adult nuance” AZ and backing vocals from James Taylor and Joni Mitchell.
I Feel the Earth Move
The hit “new songs…rank solidly with past glories.” AMG Their “white-soul realism and maturity put pop hits to shame.” AZ I Feel the Earth Move “actually rocks.” GS In 1989, Martika took a dance-pop version of the song to #25 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It’s Too Late
“If there’s a truer song about breaking up…the world (or at least AM radio) isn’t ready for it.” RC It is one of two songs on the album co-written by Toni Stern. The double-sided single of “I Feel the Earth Move” and “It’s Too Late” went to #1 for 5 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. Gloria Estefan revived the song in 1994 with her version that hit #31 on the adult contemporary chart.
So Far Away
That song might be rivaled by So Far Away. “With its universally recognized ‘doesn’t anybody stay in one place any more’ line, [it] is among the best ballads ever written.” GS It was a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. For Tapestry’s 25th anniversary, an album was released with various artists covering all the album’s songs. Rod Stewart took his version of “So Far Away” to #2 on the adult contemporary chart.
Where You Lead
“You’ve Got a Friend” wasn’t the only song from Tapestry to get a remake and have chart success from another artist while the album was at its peak. Barbra Streisand had a top 40 hit with “the jolly upbeat country rock of Where You Lead” GS on two occasions. Her initial 1971 recording hit #40 and then a year later a live medley of the song with “Sweet Inspiration” bested it by a few notches with a #37 peak. In 2000, King reworked the song with her daughter, Louise Goffin, for the theme song to television’s The Gilmore Girls.
“Beautiful may not be the best song in existence, but it's certainly one of the most optimistic ones.” GS Along with “Where You Lead,” Barbra Streisand also recorded this song on her 1971 album Barbra Joan Streisand. The song also served as the title for the 2014 Broadway musical about Carole King’s early life and career.
“That oh-so-Seventies outlaw tale is completely and absolutely out of touch with the rest, but it’s good clean fun anyway.” GS This was, yet again, another example of a song which was covered by another artist even as Tapestry was still riding the charts. Quincy Jones not only covered the song, but used it as the name of the album he released in late 1971.