Sunday, April 27, 2008

And Therein Lies a Tale

Carole Klein of Sheepshead Bay became Carole King of America

Excerpt from the book: GIRLS LIKE US Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon — and the Journey of a Generation. By Sheila Weller.

And from the review:-

It’s Carole King — the best songwriter of the three — who comes off as the one who really did help change the world: with songs like “Chains,” “Up on the Roof” and “One Fine Day,” all written with her husband at the time, Gerry Goffin, this middle-class girl from Brooklyn influenced the Beatles as well as, undoubtedly, hundreds of bands whose members have yet to be born.

When it comes to King, Weller’s storytelling is particularly adept. By 1961, she tells us, King was not yet 20, although she was already a wife and mother and had written, with her husband, the Shirelles’ No. 1 hit “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” At the time of its writing, Goffin was still working full time at a chemical company; King was at home, taking care of the couple’s infant daughter. The two were building a dual career as songwriters in the little spare time they had. King wrote the music; Goffin supplied the lyrics.

King wrote much of the melody for “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” during the course of an afternoon. She recorded what she had and then dashed off to a mah-jongg date with a friend, leaving a note near the tape recorder for her husband to find upon his return from work. The song had to be ready to present to the Shirelles the next day. “Please write,” the note said.

Goffin loved what he heard on the tape. “I listened to it a few times,” he tells Weller, “then I put myself in the place of a woman — yes, it was sort of autobiographical. I thought: What would a girl sing to a guy if they made love that night?” And so this glorious song, as astonishing a summation of women’s insecurities as has ever been written, and one that shocked listeners with its frankness, came to be. The melody, at once pleading and confident, had come first: it was so powerful that it inspired a man to slip into the skin, and the heart, of a woman.

Later, King would leave Goffin and reinvent her life, several times over. She went on to make a bold, beautiful and enormously popular LP, “Tapestry” (1971), one of those rare albums that both connect with an era and survive that era’s baloney. Later still, she’d move to Idaho and become an environmental activist. But in 1961 she was a muse who had turned a man — just for the space of a song — into a woman. And that may be even harder than changing the world.

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