On June 19th 1971, Carole King earned her first #1 single as a performer with the double-sided hit “It’s Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move.”
Carole King began her career in music as a young newlywed and college graduate, working a 9-to-5 shift alongside her then-husband, Gerry Goffin, in Don Kirshner’s songwriting factory, Aldon Music. It was there, working in a cubicle with a piano, staff paper and tape recorder that she co-wrote her first hit song (the Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” 1960), her second and third hit songs (the Drifters’ “Some Kind Of Wonderful” and Bobby Vee‘s “Take Good Care Of My Baby,” both 1961), her 14th and 17th hit songs (the Chiffons’ “One Fine Day,” 1963, and Herman’s Hermits’ “Something Tells Me I’m Into Something Good,” 1964) and so on and so forth. It was not until 10 years after her songwriting breakthrough, however, that Carole King finally fulfilled her long-held dream of having her own hit record as both singer and songwriter. On June 19th 1971, the double sided single achieved that.
King’s hit single came from one of the best and most popular albums of the singer-songwriter era—an era that Carole King helped usher in. Tapestry was a milestone not only for Carole King, but for women in rock and roll in general. As the critic Robert Christgau put it: “King has done for the female voice what countless singer-composers achieved years ago for the male: liberated it from technical decorum. She insists on being heard as she is…with all the cracks and imperfections that implies.” On the heels of Tapestry‘s success, up-and-coming solo female performers like Carly Simon and Rickie Lee Jones found an easier path to popularity, and the great Joni Mitchell entered the period of her greatest commercial success.
The success of Tapestry and Carole King’s first #1 single launched her career as a solo performer, but a look around the pop charts of 1971 reveals just how big a force she remained behind the scenes. Among the artists who earned #1 pop hits that year, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Rod Stewart, Isaac Hayes, George Harrison and Paul McCartney all recorded a Carole King song at one point in their careers, and Donny Osmond and James Taylor owe their only chart-topping 1971 hits (“Go Away Little Girl” and “You’ve Got A Friend,” respectively) to her songwriting talents.
Carole King was definitely in a class of one, but, she definitely capitalized on what Laura Nyro was doing. The approach was very similar as fas as the singer/songwriter aspect. The thing with Laura Nyro was that many of her songs went on to be bigger hits with somebody else such as Barbara Streisand – “Stoney End.” Still, I prefer Larua’s version as well as “Stoned Soul Picnic.” Without the somehwat marketable success of Laura Nyro, they may have not taken a chance on Carole King singing her own material. They mainly worried about the strength her voice, which turned out to be a non-problem. I actually appreciate her discs much more than I was a kid and considered her music “soft rock” or “female” stuff.
I wasn’t very aware of the music scene at the time, and I don’t even know who Laura Nyro is, so I certainly won’t dispute that. However, after ten years of being around the business, I hardly think it was all that much of ‘taking a chance’.
P.S. – I love Carole King also, so could you please replaced that horrible picture? LOL
Not my type of music, but she had a massive impact on music and for female singers. Fantastic facts again, Craig. Thanks a million.
Hi Craig, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog and because of that I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award which will go live in a couple of hours – thanks!
It amazes me how well you can write about just anything, usually people write only of stuff they are interested in…I love Carole King’s “Up on the Roof” song
From Japan. Thank you for visiting my blog always.
Thanks for the insight about Carole King. I have always loved her music and she definitely opened doors for many singers. Her demand to sing and let her voice be showcased as it was brought life back into music and human quaity. It was so refreshing to hear her sing. What I didn’t realize was that she was so successful as a songwriter before her own debut. It is encouraging to see that she didn’t give up and a door opened.
Thank you for this refreshing view of Carole.
Thank you for the great story about Carol King! “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” was a great song.
Thanks Craig. Interesting post about musical genius Carole King. Solo composition “So Far Away” is my all-time favourite from “Tapestry”. There were similarities between her and Laura Nyro; both monumental musical talents. I believe they both influenced Todd Rundgren’s songwriting; I know Laura’s did. Such great music.
I didn’t know that Carol paved the way for Joni…but yes, you are right. Being as I made my living for years singing Carol King and Mitchell,…I forget just how much she did influence American music. Carol was on TV over here last New Years Eve…and she looks the same…still writing songs. Thanks for bringing up the memories.
“Tapestry” was a classic…one of those “had to have” albums like JT…
The Carol King blog filled in some gaps for me. You might enjoy Group Ascension, which is subtitled How Flower Children changed the world.
Love Carole King! Thanks for the like on my post, too.
My sisters and I had Carole King’s Greatest Hits Album and listened to it non stop growing up. We knew all the words by heart and it was our go to music to sing around the camp fire, in the car or while doing chores. Thanks for the memories.
thanks Craig for the Carole King info. I read your blog everytime and always enjoy it. Thanks for checking out mine
Craig…*thank you* for the recent “like” on my blog:) I’m following again here and missed your posts so I’m glad to be back. This is a great post about Carole King from back in “my” day:) It’s good to read about the small beginnings and how people can somehow have a dream-come-true. Thanks again!
Been a fan of Carole King for a long timei! The next generation (my daughter) loves her music too … =D
Great post and very informative. I grew up listening to her and still do. I didn’t realize she wrote some of the songs you listed here that other people performed. Awesome talent!
Interesting post. Odd to think of songwriting as a 9-5 occupation in a cubicle in a song factory.