At Vinyl Destination, we try to have a little something for almost everyone. We have that new Hold Steady record, yes, and the old ones by Fugazi Grant Green and Wu Tang Clan, but we also have Curtis Mayfield, George Jones, U-Roy and James Taylor. We have our own preferences but we’ll never impose them upon you or act snobby. We want you there.
We always try to keep at least one copy of Carole King’s Tapestry in the racks. Why? Well…
Carole Joan Klein turned 79 on Feb. 9.
You know her better as Carole King, a gift to American songwriting who blossomed as the 1960s began, and hit her stride as a solo artist in 1971.
She began with first husband Gerry Goffin, and they embodied the Brill building ethos, which straddled Tip Pan Alley and rock. Their first big hit was also the first number one record by a an African-American girl group – The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.”
And then came a mad rush of hits that defined the teen condition in the ‘60s – Little Eva’s “Loco-Motion,” Herman’s Hermits’ “I’m into Something Good,” the heartbroken “It Might As Well Rain Until September” (which, in 1962, became King’s first solo hit), “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Chains” (done by The Beatles on their debut LP) “Goin Back” (The Byrds and many others) “One Fine Day,” and a little ditty she penned for Aretha franklin called “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” There was also “Up on the Roof” a magical Drifters hit that encapsulated the magic of urban life.
King and Goffin divorced and she headed west, settling in Laurel Canyon, the laid-back, L.A. community that fostered communal living and working. You couldn’t toss a rock without hitting established or budding rock stars in Laurel in the early ‘70s. A band she formed, The City, was a failure, though their lone LP was reissued a few years back. A first solo album for King, Writer, got little attention.
King’s time in the Canyon also led to her brightest moment, Tapestry, an album that transcended financial and chart success to become a cultural landmark. It turned 50 on Feb. 10. On the 11th, King was nominated as a solo artist to join the 36th class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. (She’s already in the hall, enshrined as a songwriter with Goffin.)
Tapestry was part of the initial batch of singer-songwriter releases, and James Taylor is a constant presence on the LP.
From the cover art , King, barefoot, in bellbottoms, holding a tapestry, looking at the camera as if to say, “this is me…”
It was earthy, confessional and rooted in King’s piano and acoustic-rooted instrumentation. King brought back her old hits, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Natural Woman,” and made an album that seemed to be in the collection of every girl (and a bunch of boys) I knew back then.
It blared from the door of the high school senior lounge, the only mystery the cooler kids were willing to share. It was a textbook of love and longing and in “I Feel the Earth Move” budding sexuality. There were touches of King’s urban past woven through the record’s patchouli cool as subtle musical undercurrents, too.
It’s a perfect record, a melding of precisely what the artist had to say, and what the audience needed to hear, without a single low spot.
People come in all the time looking for Tapestry. All kinds of people. All ages. Some remember it from their youth. Some are just discovering it. I asked one young woman buying Tapestry how she came to it. “My mom had it in her collection,” she said. “And it works for both of us.”
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