Never too late, baby, to return to Carole King’s music many decades later

By Rene Pastor & Cristina DC Pastor

The line snaked around the Stephen Sondheim Theatre consisting mostly of people of a certain age.

We saw some young ones, and they were with what looked like their parents, aunts and uncles. But the vast majority of “Beautiful” watchers belonged to a generation which came of age in the Seventies when the Vietnam War formed the activist consciousness, Barbara Walters became the first woman to read the evening news, Ted Bundy was arrested, and Carole King was a chart-topping singer-songwriter.

We were in high school as the prolific King was furiously writing hit song after hit song. “You’ve Got a Friend,” “It’s Too Late,” and “I Feel the Earth Move” were just a few of the singles we sang and partied to.

“Tapestry,” the album, was in our collection in the 1980s. We played it as we put our daughter to sleep, transferring it to the car as we rode in our clunky, old Ford.

When “Beautiful” opened with a solitary piano on stage bathed in electric blue lights, “So Far Away” would be the first song. We felt the tears welling up as memories of us as a young family back home in the Philippines came rushing back. Our daughter, born in 1989, is now with family of her own and lives in Philly.

We did not know King began writing songs at 16 and got married at 17 to her songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin. She became pregnant right away with their first daughter, Louise, who happens to be the producer of the Broadway musical. The pair met in college when King, known then as Carole Klein, wrote endless music on the family piano and Goffin was known around campus as a talented lyricist and a handsome heartthrob.

We had the vaguest idea King and Goffin wrote hit songs for other artists, such as “Up On the Roof” for The Drifters, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for the Shirelles, and “Take Good Care of My Baby” for Bobby Vee,” to name a few. Who knew that “Loco-Motion,” recorded by Little Eva in the 1960s, was inspired by their babysitter, whom, unknown to King, Goffin was also romancing.

Like most fans, we knew more about the songs than about the artists. “Beautiful” is King’s early start as a songwriter in New York before she moved to California as a single mother, singer, songwriter, and became a pop music darling.

We were looking for any reference to the folk music legend James Taylor, an episode in her life that is well documented in pop literature. The couple we met in the theater said the duo had a contentious separation, but we read later, when we got home, that King and Taylor dusted up their music careers many decades later and did a concert together in 2011.

One of our favorites is “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” a bittersweet composition rendered in slower, more reflective tempo by King (as opposed to the Shirelles’ teeny-bopper beat) in her “Tapestry” album. The album, her second, was released in 1971 and has sold as much as 25 million copies.

Tonight you’re mine, completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the love of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow?

The second act featured “You’ve Got a Friend.” By this time, King and Goffin have parted ways and King is planning a career move to Los Angeles. She dedicates the song to her best friends and to her record producer in New York, who gave her her break as an in-house composer for a top recording studio. These are the people who have stood by King as her marriage was fraying until it finally fell apart.

King has said in an interview how “the song was as close to pure inspiration as I’ve ever experienced.”

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One Comment

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