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  • Carole King Tapestry
    Saturday, June 14, 2008

    Carole King is a national treasure, a natural woman, and one of the best pop songwriters of the 20th century. Who else wrote songs that were made famous by Dion, Aretha Franklin, the Byrds, Little Eva, James Taylor, and the Beatles, amongst others? Not very many. She's a wonderful songwriter, and her 1971 Tapestry album was, and is, one of the greatest records of the Twentieth Century. I know that's a heck of a lot of hyperbole, but it's truth, it's wonderful truth, and I can still remember hearing this record as a little guy on 8-track.

    Sadly, a generation of listeners only knows these songs by watching them massacred by American Idol contestants and wannabe contestants, but it's a testament to how great these songs are in that their greatness isn't tainted one iota by poor performance, singing inability, and delusions of grandeur. I cannot stand "I Feel The Earth Move," but Carole King can get away with belting it out, because it's her song, she's the only one I can believe as having emotions she just can't tame.

    And a moment about those emotions--did I happen to mention that some of these songs are just so utterly beautiful in their simplicity that, well, they bring a tear to my eye? Yeah, I'm an old softy, and I'm a sucker for a beautiful song, and Tapestry has a dozen of 'em. Add to the song the simplicity of the arrangements--just a piano here, a guitar there, nothing heavy, nothing too complex. If anything, the simple guitar and piano arrangements makes a large part of the record feel like a demo tape. A wonderful demo tape, too. With classics like "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," "So Far Away," "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman," and "It's Too Late," Tapestry is one of those albums that is so filled with brilliance that it plays like a greatest hits record.

    I'm a fan of the Legacy Edition series, and I jumped at the thought of this wonderful record being remastered, repackaged, and expanded. It's such a perfect album, it should be studied as a lesson in song writing, I was curious to see how it would be expanded. Thankfully, the compilers never messed with it; additional songs on the first disc would ruin it, and a heavy helping of outtakes and demo versions would only have distracted. The second disc is simply the album performed live, taken from a series of a few shows from 1973 and 1976. Only one song is missing, and the rest are simply Carole and her piano. It's no surprise to discover that she doesn't really need a band behind her to make these songs shine.

    Few records are as perfect as Tapestry, and that's why the record still sounds fresh and inviting and warm today. This is true pop.

    Listen To: So Far Away

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 9:15 AM  
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