In times of immediate and fast music, it seems useful to remember that popular music has had and does have heroes and heroines. Above all this second and especially in areas such as pop –in its most literal meaning of popular music–, where until the seventies of last century it was an almost monopoly monopoly male preserve.
American songwriter, pianist and singer Carole King was one of the pioneers in breaking down that wall. And he did so by taking the concept and figure of the singer-songwriter to the top of the music and record industry. A figure that obviously already existed before but that she made an attractive reality for the focuses of those who controlled the business and also for a massive and very varied public.
An unusual phenomenon
In addition to collapsing the hit parade, the album won the most important Grammy awards
She was already a proven composer on the American scene, and together with her partner Gerry Goffin she had lit up some popular music hits of the sixties, such as The Loco-Motion, a 1962 song for Little Eva later popularized by Sylvie Vartan, Grand Funk Railroad or Kylie Minogue, and Will you still love me tomorrow?
When the relationship between the two came to an end, the composer moved with her two young daughters from New York to California, specifically to Laurel Canyon, on the outskirts of Hollywood, where during those years many musicians had gone to live.
Thus, King immersed himself in that environment, interacting with musicians who later became figures such as James Taylor or Toni Stern, to whom he soon wrote lyrics. And above all, an extraordinary composer who transcended styles emerged. In his memoir A natural woman, which appeared in 2012, the also vocalist and performer stated that “she was simply doing what she had always done, recording songs that she had written or co-written” (…) “I was not in the same leagues as Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell or Barbra Streisand (whom I considered real singers) ”.
The recording sessions of that album that was going to be historic, Tapestry, lasted no more than two weeks and in them the intimate and beautiful interpretations of the singer were impeccably captured. In addition to balanced production by Loud Adler, it featured vocal harmonies by James Taylor and Joni Mitchell.
Released on February 10, 1971, the album contained some songs that became small classics such as It’s too late, I feel the earth move, (You make me feel like) A natural woman or the glorious You’ve got a friend. Appeared at a convulsive social and political moment (end of the Vietnam War, even the recent assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy …), the work had a unifying vocation. But it served as a message to many women that they were the owners of their lives and that wishes could become a reality.
The reception was legendary. The album was number 1 for 15 weeks on Billboard – Milestone surpassed by Whitney Houston in 1993 with the soundtrack of The bodyguard-, stayed six years in the Top 100 of that list, selling 24 million copies. The simple It’s too late was at the top for five weeks while James Taylor’s version of You’ve got a friend it was also a smash hit.
And the industry took a good note because Tapestry won the four most important Grammy awards: Album, Recording, Song and Female Performance.