Pros:One of the greatest albums of all time
Cons:If I was nitpicking, "Smackwater Jack" doesn't really fit the vibe of the album
The Bottom Line: One of the all-time classics, Tapestry is a must-own album
Growing up, there were several CDs that my parents would play over and over whenever we would ride somewhere in the car. The constant repetition shaped the style of music that I chose to listen to back then, and to a degree, what I still listen to today. One such CD they would always listen to was Carole King’s Tapestry, which is without a doubt simply one of the greatest albums ever put together.
Released in 1971, Tapestry was King’s second solo effort and was easily the most successful of her career. Selling well over 10 million copies in the United States alone, the album is arguably the most successful female album of all time. It went on to win 4 Grammy Awards, including the coveted Album of the Year award.
The CD version I have is the 1999 rerelease of the album, featuring the original 12 songs with an additional 2 unreleased songs (although 1 is just a live version of a song already on the album). Every song on the album is either written or co-written by King herself, with several of the songs having been released by other artists previously (as King was a songwriter in New York long before she started singing her own material). The track list of the record breaks down as follows:
1. I Feel the Earth Move
2. So Far Away
3. It’s Too Late
4. Home Again
6. Way Over Yonder
7. You’ve Got a Friend
8. Where You Lead
9. Will You Love Me Tomorrow?
10. Smackwater Jack
12. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
13. Out in the Cold
14. Smackwater Jack (Live)
The key to the entire album is in its simplicity and how it is so obviously personal to King. There is no heavy instrumental accompaniment and very little (if any) backup singing to be found. King relies solely on her piano, a guitar and occasionally some drums to provide to the background for the words she has written and sings here. It is a prime example of less equaling more.
On a CD with so many great songs, there are still obvious standouts that lead the way. While the relatively more up tempo songs like “I Feel the Earth Move” are still classic, I’m particularly fond of the slower, more sedate hits like “So Far Away”, “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” Still, it is like trying to pick a favorite off of a greatest hit CD, as everything is relatively good. Even a song that King later distanced herself from performing live, “Where You Lead”, became a fan favorite after it became the theme song for Gilmore Girls.
If there is one song that never really struck me right, it would be “Smackwater Jack.” I know it is a favorite of many, but for me, it just doesn’t fit properly with the flow of the rest of the album. It is a jarring song to put before “Tapestry” and just doesn’t do enough for me to merit inclusion in the album. Again, that is just one man’s opinion.
Overall, Tapestry is easily one of the most memorable albums that I have ever listened to. It is heartfelt and riveting, with a soulful honesty that is hard to find in today’s overproduced musical landscape. It is a must-own for any music lover’s music collection, no matter what age they are.
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