Carole King: Still Making the Earth Move

Carole King is, undeniably, one of the most successful female songwriters of the latter half of the 20th century in the US, having written or co-written 118+ pop songs that have charted on the Billboard Hot 100. Additionally, she also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making her the most successful female songwriter on the UK singles charts between 1962 and 2005. That’s a mighty impressive pedigree.

King’s first major success came in the early 60s, when she was married to first husband Gerry Goffin. Their first big hit was Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by the Shirelles in 1960. Between them, they co-wrote over two dozen hits for various artists, many of which have been recorded again and again by numerous artists. But their early writing successes, and King’s early recording career started to wane by 1967, and she and Goffin divorced soon after.

In 1968, King then moved herself and her two young daughters from NYC to the flourishing Laurel Canyon area in Southern California. Shortly after arriving in L.A., she met musicians like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and a host of other creative people, like songwriter Toni Stern, who had also found a haven in the hills in the City of Angels.

After releasing a solo album in 1970 called Writer, she followed that up in 1971 with the now legendary smash hit album Tapestry, from which several cuts were released as singles that became hits. The album was recorded concurrently with Taylor’s Mud Slide Slim. The two albums used overlapping musicians including King, Danny Kortchmar and Joni Mitchell. Both albums included the King-penned You’ve Got a Friend, which was a number 1 hit for Taylor; King said in an interview that she “didn’t write it with James or anybody really specifically in mind. But when James heard it he really liked it and wanted to record it.”

King continued to record albums through the 70s, producing hits such as Been to Canaan, and Jazzman. She even performed a free concert in Central Park in 1973, with over 100K in attendance. But the formula that had made her songs such hits earlier in the decade started to grow stale, and her album Simple Things was even considered “the worst album of 1977” by Rolling Stone, despite the fact that it had also achieved gold album status.

Undaunted, King changed labels in the early 80s, and came out swinging, with journalist Catherine Foster dubbing King “a Queen of Rock”. She also called King’s performing “all spunk and exuberance.” By 1989, she was back at Capitol Records, and recorded the album City Streets, with Eric Clapton, Branford Marsalis, and Slash sitting in on several songs. She also started acting during the 80s, with guest appearances in Murphy’s Romance, as well as appearing in several off-Broadway productions in the early 90s. She also continued to write, and release hit songs in many different movies throughout the 90s, such as Anyone at All for the hit movie You’ve Got Mail, which starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

In 2000, King was asked to re-record a new version of her hit song Where You Lead for the show Gilmore Girls. She revamped the song with more relevant lyrics to reflect the changing times and recorded it with her daughter Louis Goffin. The song became strongly associated with female friendships and family love, which was the underlying theme of Gilmore Girls.

Since 2000, she has continued to tour and write new music throughout the 2000s, even launching The Living Room Tour in July 2004 with an album of the same name. After reuniting for a 50 year anniversary for The Troubadour club in Los Angeles in 2007, King and James Taylor staged their Troubadour Reunion Tour together in 2010, reminiscent of the first time they played at the club.

On Thursday, May 10, 2012, King announced her retirement from music, saying her days in music had “most likely ended.” King herself doubted she would ever write another song and said that her 2010 Troubadour Reunion Tour with James Taylor was probably the last tour of her life, saying that it “was a good way to go out.” King also said she will most likely not be writing or recording any new music. Then on May 22, King walked that back, writing on her Facebook page that “she never said she was actually retiring and insisted that she was only taking a break.”

King currently resides in Idaho and has since 2018, and has been married and divorced four times, with two of the relationships producing her four children. While she currently continues to work in the music industry, she also spends time campaigning for her favorite politicians running for office and donating time and her name to various causes close to her heart.

She is also blessed with numerous artists still recording her hits, including Mickey Dolenz’ album King For A Day, which was composed entirely of King-penned hits. She has received numerous accolades and achievements from a wide variety of sources, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

For me, Carole King is the soundtrack to my youth. Tapestry is an album that truly changed my young life and helped develop my ever-changing and growing love for music. To see her songs still being recorded to this day makes me oh so very happy. My favorite quote from any of her songs remains this one:

“You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face, And show the world all the love in your heart. Then people gonna treat you better, You’re gonna find, yes, you will

That you’re beautiful as you feel”

Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected]