She was the sweetheart of the Brill Building, writing confectionary bits of teen angst and l-o-v-e that set the world to singing. But Carole King-with the blond frizzy hair and deep-set eyes, a plain yet bewitching girl who inspired Neil Sadaka to write the No.1 “Oh, Carole”-had greater hopes for her music than to merely offer a series of crepe paper valentines for this week’s crush.
Carole King was a real writer. If what burned in her soul wasn’t appropriate for the girl groups and teen heartthrobs, she could sing her own songs, create something more adult and complicated, reach for deeper emotions and capture what happened.
The result was Tapestry, a front-to-back song cycle recorded without the gloss or revved-up backbeats that marked Top 40 radio of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Instead, it was earthy, moody, a bit raw and settled into the wrinkles of desire, doubt and what gets a woman through.
There is a staccato tug ‘n’ bump to “I Feel The Earth Move” that echoes the climax all women seek, while “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” has the gospel exhortation of a woman who’s found something to believe in and is going to witness as long as her strength-and lungs-hold out. If the latter doesn’t pack Aretha Franklin’s stone soul punch, she’s still relentless in her witness.
Not that everything is so permeated with sex. The innocent fidelity of “You’ve Got A Friend” warrants a love beyond romance-as “So Far Away” pines for the place and people loved and missed with a haunted ache. For King, songs extended into relationships that were platonic, were introspective, examined dynamics far beyond the conventional boy-girl attraction.
It is those phases that deliver Tapestry from being a mere collection of love songs; and in many ways, pave the way for what the singer/songwriter movement would become-deeply personal, musically organic and looking for order amongst conflicting times, needs and survival in a world quickly evolving.