Saturday, July 31, 1971

James Taylor hit #1 with “You’ve Got a Friend”

You’ve Got a Friend

Carole King

Writer(s): Carole King (see lyrics here)

Released: February 10, 1971 (album cut)

First Charted: --

Peak: 7 CL, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 86.49 video, 128.91 streaming

You’ve Got a Friend

James Taylor

First Charted: May 29, 1971

Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 2 HR, 11 AC, 1 CL, 4 UK, 2 CN, 25 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.2 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 46.45 video, 187.71 streaming

Awards (James Taylor):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Carole King):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Carole King was “a New Yorker and Brill Building pop merchant” TB who, with then husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, earned a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. By the turn of the ‘70s, however, she garnered the credentials for a second Hall induction as a performer as she “became the queen of the laidback and mainly acoustic songs of Pacific adult reflection” TB that characterized the decade’s singer/songwriter movement and even more specifically the musicians who lived and worked in the Laurel Canyon era of Los Angeles.

King’s song, “You’ve Got a Friend,” “encapsulated that style.” TB She wrote it during sessions for her Tapestry album as well as James Taylor’s Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon in January 1971. King, Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Danny Kortchmar perform on both versions. Kortchmar and Taylor had been friends since they were kids and Taylor and King were long-time friends as well. FB

In April 1971, King released the double-A side single “It’s Too Late”/ “I Feel the Earth Move” to promote the Tapestry album. It went to #1 in June 1971 for five weeks and was knocked from the top by Paul Revere & the Raiders’ “Indian Reservation.” After one week at the pinnacle, that song succumbed to Taylor’s version of “You’ve Got a Friend.”

King said “the song was as close to pure inspiration as I’ve ever experienced. The song wrote itself. It was written by something outside myself, through me.” WK Taylor said King wrote the song in response to his line “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend” in his song “Fire and Rain.” WK She didn’t, however, write it with the intent of him or anyone else specifically recording it. However, she said “when James heard it he really liked it and wanted to record it.” WK Taylor has said the song had particular resonance for him because he had recovered from depression shortly before hearing it. RC

When King’s version was released on the Tapestry album, Rolling Stone critic Jon Landau called it her “most perfect new song.” WK Author James D. Perone said Taylor’s version had “anthem-like qualities” similar to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” SS He described the song’s themes as “a universal, sister/brotherly, agape-type love of one human being for another.” WK The song won Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Pop Male Vocal Performance.


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First posted 3/16/2021; last updated 4/28/2024.

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