Emil D’Onofrio — Listening Room contributor
A music reviewer for allmusic.com once referred to most of the content on Simon and Garfunkel’s landmark album “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as “filler.”
As misguided as that opinion is, I would defy him (or any other critic) to make such captious claims about “Tapestry,” the beautiful creation of singer /songwriter Carole King which hit #1 on the Billboard charts some 40 years ago, in mid-June 1971, and held that coveted spot for fifteen weeks.
Originally half of the husband/wife songwriting team Coffin/King, which penned such hits as “Loco-Motion” for Little Eva and “Pleasant Valley Sunday” for the Monkees, CArole King truly came into own with “Tapestry.” At a time when America was still bogged down with the Vietnam War, racial division and a rebellious youth culture, this album expresses the hope that, well, there still is hope.
The LP grabs the listener right away with upbeat, bouncing “I Feel the Earth Move” then segues beautifully into “So Far Away,’ followed by the smash hit “It’s Too Late,” which spent five weeks at the top of the charts.
These three tracks alone probably would have sufficed to make “Tapestry” a best-selling album of 1971. But King doesn’t rest on the strength of them, indicated by subsequent tracks such as “Beautiful,” “You’ve Got a Friend,”(a #1 hit for James Taylor), “Smackwater Jack,” and the phenomenal (You Make me Feel Like) “A Natural Woman.”
Every cut is an inspiration, expressing the human experience in a way that only good music can do.
Now approaching 70, Carole King still performs live. Whether or not I ever see her in concert, I’ll always be grateful to my vinyl copy of “Tapestry,” an extraordinary achievement in an age where serous songwriters believed in producing albums filled with spirited and meaningful songs, rather than a load of inaudible filler.
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