10 Songs You Didn’t Know Carole King Wrote for Other Artists in the ’60s

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Born a songwriter, when she was a teenager, and still attending James Madison high school in Brooklyn, New York, Carole King was already selling songs to publishing companies throughout the city, while writing songs for her band Co-Sines and making demo albums with her schoolmate Paul Simon. By the 1960s, King met her soon-to-be husband and co-writer Gerry Goffin at Queens College and went on to write some of the biggest hits throughout the 1960s, ’70s and a career spanning more than six decades.

King’s hit songs for other artists even bypass the enormity of her 1971 solo album Tapestry and hits “You’ve Got a Friend,” “I Feel the Earth Move,” “So Far Away,” and “It’s Too Late.”

Kicking off the 1960s, King earned her first No. 1 hit as a songwriter with The Shirelles’ hit “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” also recorded by King on Tapestry and released on the girl group’s 1960 debut Tonight’s the Night. King later composed Aretha Franklin’s 1967 hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” along with Goffin and producer Jerry Wexler.

Throughout the 1960s, alone, King wrote smash after smash hit cross-genre, from doo-wop and pop, R&B, soul and rock—and even a few songs The Beatles wanted to cover (“Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Chains”).

Here’s a look behind some of the songs Carole King wrote for other artists throughout the 1960s.

“Take Good Care Of My Baby,” Bobby Vee (1961)
Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin

Reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in September 1961 and becoming a hit for pop singer Bobby Vee, “Take Good Care Of My Baby” was also covered by The Beatles, Dion and the Belmonts, Bobby Vinton, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz and more in the years that followed. 

“The Loco-Motion,” Little Eva (1962)
Written by Carole King 

Originally written for the R&B singer Dee Dee Sharp, who turned down the song, “The Loco-Motion” became an instant hit for Little Eva in 1962 and throughout the next two decades. The song remained a hit in 1974 for the rock band Grand Funk Railroad and again in 1987 when Kylie Minogue released a cover of the track on her 1988 debut Kylie, which reached No. 3 in the U.S. on the Hot 100.

“Chains,” The Cookies (1962) / The Beatles (1963)
Written by Carole King

Originally written for the Brooklyn, New York-bred The Cookies, “Chains” was the first time the R&B group charted since their 1956 hit “In Paradise.” Over in Liverpool, England, The Beatles were also using the song in their live sets, and by 1963, the band recorded a version for their debut Please Please Me. For “Chains,” George Harrison took over lead vocals for the first time.

“Crying In the Rain,” The Everly Brothers (1962)
Written by Carole King and Howard Greenfield

Co-written with Howard Greenfield, a co-worker of King and Goffin at Aldon Music, “Crying In the Rain” was recorded by The Everly Brothers and reached No. 6 on the U.S. Pop charts. Aretha Franklin also included a live recording of the track on her 1968 album, Aretha in Paris. In 1990, Norwegian band A-Ha also recorded “Crying in the Rain,” on their fourth album, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, which remains on their set list to date.

“Up On The Roof,” The Drifters (1963)
Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin

Reaching No. 5 in the U.S. on the Pop Singles chart and No. 4 on the R&B singles chart for the doo-wop and R&B group The Drifters, “Up On The Roof” was released on their 1964 album, Under the Boardwalk—the title track became another big hit for the quintet a year later. “Up On the Roof” was also listed as the one the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“One Fine Day,” The Chiffons (1963)
Written by Carole King

Inspired by the title of the Puccini aria “Un Bel di Vedremo” from the opera Madama Butterfly, “One Fine Day” was recored by girl group The Chiffons and became a mega hit. Covered by everyone from Bette Midler, to The Carpenters and more, King also recorded the song in 1980, and it was featured on soundtrack for the 1996 romantic comedy of the same name, starring George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer, along with a version by Natalie Merchant. 

“I’m Into Something Good,” Herman’s Hermits (1964)
Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin

Originally recorded by The Cookies, British band Herman’s Hermits ended up taking the song to No. 1 in the UK and even entered the U.S. charts at No. 42 at the height of the British Invasion. King revealed that the song was inspired by The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. “I make no bones about it,” said King. “That song was influenced by Brian’s music”

“Oh No Not My Baby,” Maxine Brown (1964)
Written by Carole King

Covered by everyone from Cher to Aretha Franklin, Linda Rondstadt, and Dusty Springfield, “Oh No Not My Baby” tells the story about the denial of accepting the reality of a partner’s numerous infidelities. In 1964, the reached No. 24 on the pop chart for R&B singer Maxine Brown.

“Goin’ Back,” Dusty Springfield (1966)
Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin

Singing about the loss of  innocence that comes with adulthood—I think I’m goin’ back / To the things I learned so well in my youth / I think I’m returning to / Those days when I was young enough to know the truth — “Goin’ Back was made famous by Dusty Springfield in 1966 and was later covered by Diana Ross, The Pretenders, Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, and even Freddie Mercury, later released on a compilation of the Queen singer’s singles, Messenger of the Gods: The Singles, in 2016.

“Wasn’t Born to Follow,” The Byrds (1968)
Written by Carole King

Off The Byrds’ fifth album The Notorious Byrd Brothers, the song also made its way onto the soundtrack of the 1969 road drama Easy Rider, starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. That year, King also recorded her own version of the song while fronting the group The City, and in 1999, Dusty Springfield covered the song on her album of lost recordings, Dusty in London.

Photo: Legacy Recordings

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