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Carole King – Tapestry (1971)

July 3, 2014

[Album 327/1001]220px-Carole_King_-_Tapestry

Special thanks to my friend/canner extraordinaire/jeweler to the stars Brandy for helping me sort out why this album is so appealing.

Reason #1: Carole hits a note and moves on with life

King will never out-octave Mariah Carey.  That being said, she should not lose so much as a moment’s sleep over this.  Phrase-ending warbling would be wildly out of place on Tapestry; the imperfect singer fits the songs perfectly.

Reason #2: She is Carole King

The cover art is indicative of the contents: a singer/songwriter, doing her thing, on her terms.  The cat, the needlework, and the fully-clothed subject at home (sans wind-machine-enhanced hair) should provide adequate hints that this is not a shiny, manufactured pop act.

Many listeners (myself included) would see the track name, You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, and immediately think of Aretha Franklin.  I thought covering such a recent hit seemed ill-advised but it was me who missed the mark.  Twice!

Not only was Carole King the song’s co-writer, her version is on par with the Queen, primarily because instead of Regal emulation, her subdued take gave the song a whole new definition.

Reason #3: Tapestry is aptly named

Even if you’re not into the textile art of the same name, you can’t help but admire the craft.

Like other great pieces of art, this album is neither modern nor dated.

Not everyone will feel the earth move after listening but it would be a travesty to call Tapestry anything less than timeless.

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From → 1970s

20 Comments
  1. A great album that a lot of people probably dismiss because it was so successful and ubiquitous throughout the ’70s. I don’t care how popular or “overplayed” something might be…the quality always shines through. She has several other excellent albums from that era but this one is rightly lauded as her defining work. Excellent write-up.

    • Thanks Rich – that’s good to hear there are plenty other worthy King recordings (and from what I gather, plenty more excellent King-written, performed by others songs).

      When I was young and I knew everything, I used to blame artists for being overplayed. Fortunately I’ve changed my tune – and speaking of tunes, you’re currently in the lead in the 10 tunes challenge!

  2. Enormous respect to her songwriting skills, she’s a master of the craft. Amazing to count how many Goffin/King credits there are on albums.

    • I agree it boils down to great songs – and each of these would sound just fine with vocals & piano, solid tunes

  3. It’s Too Late is my favourite. Someone on a documentary recently said something like “she has like the voice of every woman”. I think that’s part of the appeal; she sounds like our friend. Her unpolished and somewhat vulnerable voice speaks to us on our level (perhaps especially if we’re women), not from a height of accomplished musicianship, even though her chords and melodies are highly sophisticated. That’s why Tapestry connected with so many people.

    • That’s a great way of putting it – ‘sounds like our friend.’ I had Tapestry on in the kitchen during the week and it was such a nice, non-intrusive guest. I was going to say in the write-up it had a ‘home’ feel but I like the friend line even more.
      Excellent point as well about the contrast between the unrefined vocals & finely crafted music!

  4. Tapestry is one of those albums that’s enjoyable solely because it’s so professionally done. Nothing innovative or experimental here, just classy and perfectly structured songs.

  5. Carole King was way off my radar, until the year we went to see Jersey Boys at the Toronto Centre for the Arts with my in-laws. My mil had some Frankie Valli and and Carole King’s Tapistry in the van – we listened to it to the show. When I got home I took Tapistry and ripped it to my iPod immediately. Such a great record!

    • Jersey Boys is one I’ve been meaning to see – I played guitar in our school’s Grease production this year so I’ve been in a 50’s falsetto mood!

      • I highly recommend Jersey Boys – fantastic show!
        And Grease? LOVE Grease! And with the Frankie Valli connection – Grease is the word! lol
        The hubs is not a fan of musicals or the theatre, but he totally dug Jersey Boys.

  6. One of the earliest introspective singer-songwriter albums from a female perspective. Great songs, touching moments (I’m for “It’s too late” as well) and even humour! (“Smackwater Jack”). Quality never goes out of style.

  7. I never met a hippie girlfriend that didn’t play this album. And it proved quite handy when one rolled a skinny cigarette…………..

  8. Amazing Amazing music. AMAZING. It’s Too Late, So Far Away, I Feel The Earth, You’ve Got a Friend, this whole album hit after hit. Just amazing music to sit back close your eyes and listen to for hours.

  9. I’m really fond of this album. So many great songs and all of them tugging at the right strings. I still feel the same every time I hear it, too. Beautiful album.

    • I was talking about it with some friends (and their parents) this weekend – it seems to be one of those rare records that is great whether you’re 15 or 65.

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