Saturday, June 19, 1971

Carole King “It’s Too Late” hit #1

It’s Too Late

Carole King

Writer(s): Carole King (music), Tori Stern (words) (see lyrics here)

Released: April 16, 1971

First Charted: May 7, 1971

Peak: 15 BB, 14 CB, 12 GR, 12 HR, 15 AC, 1 CL, 6 UK, 13 CN, 6 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 39.2 video, 166.81 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

She was born Carol Klein on February 9, 1942, in Brooklyn. She met Gerry Goffin at Queens College. They married and by 1960, they’d sailed to the top of the charts as songwriters with the Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” They followed up with #1 hits “Take Good Care of My Baby” by Bobby Vee, “Go Away Little Girl” by Steve Lawrence, and “The Loco-Motion” by Little Eva. However, by 1968 the pair had divorced and King was in California embarking on a second career as both a singer and songwriter.

She released an album with a band called the City and a solo album called Writer before she became a superstar with Tapestry, an album which “belongs to the Laurel Canyon folk-rock school, but there’s also some jazz and soul in the breezy, laid-back arrangement.” SG It “helped make the world safe for the ’70s singer-songwriter boom.” SG It sold 25 million copies, spent 15 weeks at #1, and won the Grammy for Album of the Year. The album also produced that year’s Grammy winners for Song of the Year (“You’ve Got a Friend”) and Record of the Year (“It’s Too Late”).

“It’s Too Late” “represents a whole different form of pop music from a woman who’d already mastered the kind that had been around the previous decade.” SG “The melody is pure Tin Pan Alley pop, the arrangement owes something to light jazz and a whole lot more to L.A. studio craftmanship – but it has bite, resonance, even a mature theme.” DM “There’s a conversational looseness to the way she sings, but there’s intensity, too. It’s one of those voices you immediately recognize, a distinctive honk.” SG

King wrote the music, but not the lyrics – although “she did sell them.” SG Her friend Tori Stern penned the lyrics fresh off her breakup with James Taylor, the singer/songwriter who had worked with King, most notably recording “You’ve Got a Friend.” It is “a layered and nuanced” SG breakup song that sounds like “it might be written in a note left on the kitchen table when somebody’s slipped out for good while her partner’s back was turned.” DM It’s significant the the female narrator “sets the terms of her own departure.” DM She “recognizes that the couple isn’t working anymore, that it’s time to move on.” SG


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First posted 9/23/2023.

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