Lives and times

Music was a huge part of my life when I was growing up. It’s still big, but not the same. My life today does not have a soundtrack. As a kid my life was accompanied by music from start to finish. At that finish was another start, as a grown-up. From that point forward, music was less of a soundtrack and more of a break from conversations and silence, and a devotion of its own. The transition was not a sharp one, but rather a growing independence from music radio. Accompanying me the whole way, though I hardly knew it, was Carole King.

She was the composer behind dozens of songs I still hum or sing along to. She wrote or co-wrote 118 Billboard top 100 songs, between 1955 and 1999.  Though I always enjoyed her music and appreciated her talent, I hadn’t thought much about why they were appealing before listening this morning to this Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross (who, it turns out, was a neighbor of Carole’s when they were both growing up in Brooklyn). When I heard that some old videos of Carole had leaked out on YouTube, I went there and was blown away by this performance of Chains, a hit she and Jerry Goffin wrote for the Cookies, which was then Little Eva‘s back-up group.

What you see on that video is pure fun. The song is a simple one, almost a throw-away. But the energy is amazing. Watching and listening to that performance, it’s hard not to fall in love with her. The Carole King I got to know through Tapestry, and other mature works, was more seasoned and complete. But what I see here is something I also realized I knew all along: that her work was also play.

I’m also sold on her memoir, A Natural Woman. Looking forward to checking it out.

4 comments

  1. Jerome Hughes’s avatar

    Thanks for posting this, Doc!

    20 years ago next weekend (just after the riots in LA, Atlanta, etc.) Carole King performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, with Aaron Neville and Slash joining her for Locomotion. It was wonderful (and a bit strange.)

    http://articles.courant.com/1992-04-14/entertainment/0000201989_1_neville-brothers-e-street-band-tour

  2. Ralph Brandi’s avatar

    My wife has been reading the Carole King book. She’s disappointed in it. It’s basically a whitewash. Anything less than complimentary has been glossed over or omitted. Gerry Goffin did some terrible things to her, but you wouldn’t know it from reading the book.

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    I haven’t read it yet, but it’s a bummer to hear that, Ralph.

    I gather from the interviews I’ve heard that the abusive ex-husband was Rick Evers, who died of an overdose in 1978. Are you sure Goffin was the culprit there? (I dunno.)

  4. francine hardaway’s avatar

    I grew up in NYC at about the same time as Carol, and when I saw that Poodle skirt and buttoned up cardigan, it brought me right back to high school! I, too, love Carole King.

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