Today’s album is one of the more anticipated selections on this journey. I have always known it is highly rated, but for some reason, until today, I had never taken the time to listen to “Tapestry” by Carole King. One of popular music’s most successful songwriters, this album is loaded with great songs, many of which were most recognizable for their versions by some other artist. Always highly regarded, this album is currently rated as #25 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
There is no time wasted, as the first song kicks in with “I Feel The Earth Move”, followed in rapid succession by “So Far Away” and “It’s Too Late”, a fantastic 1-2-3 punch to open the record. The songs I didn’t know that completed Side One were all very consistent with the style and sound of the album, with Carole’s commanding piano and confident yet sweet voice. Such a truly creative and consistently productive songwriter and performer, her high praise is certainly warranted.
Side Two opens with “You’ve Got a Friend”, made much more famous later that year by her good friend and backing artist on this album, James Taylor. Other favorites on the second side include the slightly funky “Smackwater Jack”, and the title track “Tapestry”, a beautiful song that I’m not sure I have heard before. The final track is the incredible song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, which of course we already have heard in its most famous state by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. I know I mentioned this once before, but this moment is so powerful, it is worth highlighting again. If you want to be moved to tears, and don’t feel bad if you are, because President Obama was as well, go find the performance where Aretha sings this song for Carole King at the 2015 Kennedy Center Awards. As I noted before, this is probably the most universally powerful moment at this or perhaps any music awards event, and is second only to one other moment I will recognize in a not-too-distant future blog.
I don’t know if I can think of someone who was as effective as a performer and songwriter for others as well, the only other obvious choice being Smokey Robinson. It took me way too long, but this is yet another day I’m grateful for the expanding exercise of this musical journey.