Tapestry turns 50, Part 2.
Today,. February 10, 2021, marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Carole King’s landmark album Tapestry, produced by Lou Adler. As part of our Tapestry celebration toda we are happy to bring you this conversation with Lou Adler. It covers his entire career, but begins with the making of Tapestry.
This is from an interview I conducted along with Louise Goffin in August of 2018 for our podcast, The Great Song Adventure. Louise is a gifted songwriter and beloved recording artist, and the daughter of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. She’s known Lou Adler most of her life, and was often at A&M in Hollywood during the making of Tapestry. As discussed in the interview, she was a little kid then, and would play in the makeshift gym Lou constructed on what was Charlie Chaplin’s soundstage.
More recently she worked with Lou in 2016 when her mother performed all of Tapestry – for the first time – at Hyde Park in London for an audience of 60,000 people. Lou produced the show – which was broadcast on PBS – and Louise performed in it, backing up her mom and even taking a guitar solo.
Back when Goffin & King were writing songs for other artists, Gerry wrote the words, and Carole wrote the music. She also made the demos, and sang the lead vocals on them. The intention was to sell the song, and she sold them like nobody else could, withsoulful purity, straight from the heart. When Lou heard those demos, he knew that for this time – 1971 – just past the break=up of The Beatles and the reign of rock bands – she was the ideal artist. He believed in her, and didn’t abandon his belief when Writer, the first solo album he did with her, was not successful. Long before most of the industry recognized her as an artist, he was working with her on what became the template of the “singer-songwriter” movement: combining her great new songs with Goffin-King classics such as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” which they slowed down to a simmer, and “Natural Woman.”
Lou and Carole did three albums of her songs, but it was the third one that exploded. It brought all dimensions of Carole King, – combining brand new classics like “It’s Too Late” and “So Far Away” with Goffin-King gems such as “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” and “Natural Woman.”
Tapestry became one of the most beloved and successful albums of all-time, even outselling Sgt. Pepper at its peak. It won four Grammy Awards in 1972, including Record of the Year and Album of the Year.
In this podcast, Lou details the great care and love poured into every aspect of making this album, such as the sequencing, for which he left town to focus, spending an entire month in Mexico to perfect.
But at its heart, as with all his other musical projects, was the key ingredient: great songs. It always started there.