Carole King's memoir is short on musical details, but long on the artist's personal saga.
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A common practice in the 1940s, the grade skipping would force young Carol to cope with being viewed as a pipsqueak among her older peers. As her social life disappointed, music became her constant companion and increased her status at school. Soon she formed a pop singing group with ambitions of being the best at James Madison High School.Skip to next paragraph
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And after attending several of pioneering disc jockey Alan Freed’s live rock n’ roll shows at Manhattan’s Paramount Theatre, exposing Carole to stars like Jerry Lee Lewis, The Moonglows, Fats Domino, and Little Richard, she writes “ at that moment I knew I wanted to mean something to these people. I didn’t want to be one of them. I just wanted them to know who I was and consider me worthy of respect.” She noted that most of their songs were simply written and recorded. “The fact that a lot of the songs sounded as if they could have been written by a kid ... inspired me to think, if they can do it, maybe I can.” King determined that if only she could meet the famous disc jockey and play him her songs, she would be on her way.
Well she did, and she was. The determined little Brooklyn songstress, all of 15 years old, parlayed a brief meeting with the famous record spinner into appointments with some of New York’s top record labels where she showed up after school – textbooks still in hand – sat down at the piano, and belted out her best pop confections. She was signed at her second stop, ABC/Paramount Records, as a songwriter and performer. She would commute daily, after school, to Manhattan, to write and record her early efforts at pop stardom. They made nary a ripple on the charts, but she kept plugging away, strong on melody but admittedly weak on lyrics. Soon she’d meet her first true love who just happened to be a gifted lyricist, and as far as King was concerned, just dreamy.
King and Gerry Goffin would marry in 1959, have their first child, Louise, then a second, Sherry, while co-writing over 100 Top Forty hits together, before Goffin spiraled into mental illness after prodigious use of LSD in the mid-'60s. They divorced in 1968, after nine years of marriage, when King took her daughters and left the familiar NY environs for La-La-Land.
It was there that she’d be encouraged by the tight-knit singer/songwriter community flourishing in Laurel Canyon, to write and record her own, more personal songs, lyrics and all. “Tapestry” was the result, and the book really shines here, letting us feel a part of the intimate recording sessions at A&M studios, where a nervous and emotionally damaged artist was surrounded by the love and encouragement of a sensitive producer (Lou Adler of The Mamas & Papas fame) and musicians who were long-time friends of King’s. The album and its memorable songs stayed on the charts for six straight years, and you be hard pressed to find a home that doesn’t have it in its music collection.