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Carole King - Tapestry


June 5th, 2008

This is one of those albums which seems to be ingrained in my DNA. I’ve been listening to it since I was 15 years old. I know every word, every note by heart. I remember that is was one of the few albums that I had that my mom actually liked as well. It was one of her favorites. We used to listen to the 8-Track tape in the car all the time. I’m on a Carole King tear right now. To start with Epic/Legacy just released this new Legacy Edition version of Tapestry. Which would make it at least the 4th time I’ve bought this album. First on 8-Track tape, later on vinyl, then CD and now the Legacy Editon CD. The previous CD version was released in 1999, was remastered from the original ODE tapes and featured two bonus tracks, one of which, a studio outtake titled “Out In The Cold,” is not included on this new Legacy Edition, so I guess I’ll be hanging on to that version as well. Additionally, I started reading a book titled Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller which is a great biography of King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell. Of the three Joni is probably my favorite with Carole and Carly close behind. Right now I’m revisiting Carole but before long I’m sure I’ll be digging out all my Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon LPs and CDs.

Carole King occupies ae very odd place in my musical world. She made one album, this one, that I absolutely love, play all the time, know inside and out, couldn’t imagine living without. And yet, though she released many, many other albums in her career, this is the only one I’ve ever spent much time with. Hard to explain. Normally, when I find an album that I really like I buy every other album I can from that artist. I’m much more of an “artist” listener than I am an “album” listener. I have every one of Joni Mitchell’s albums (I think). Somehow, Carole slipped through the cracks. I think I bought Music, the follow up to Tapestry, when it was released and I never really liked it for some reason. And maybe the same thing with Rhymes & Reasons, the next album. Maybe Tapestry was just too good and nothing could really live up to it. After that I didn’t buy or listen to any more of her albums. Well, I do have some of the others on vinyl, promos I got for free when I worked in record stores, but I never listened to them. I did buy Carnegie Hall Concert: June 18, 1971 when it was released in 1996, a wonderful show recorded three months after Tapestry was released. And I have A Natural Woman: The Ode Collection (1968-1976) which was released in 1994. But reading Girls Like Us is making me want to dig deeper, to go back to those earlier albums and give them another chance, so now I’m relistening and reevaluating. I was able to buy five of her CDs on for $7 each: Writer, Music, Rhymes & Reasons, Fantasy and Thoroughbred. So, like I say, I’m on a tear right now, because, except for the hits on these, the songs are basically all new to me. So far Writer and especially Music are much, much better than I remember. Don’t know why I never got them the first time around. Funny how that happens.

The new Legacy Edition of Tapestry features the original album on Disc One and live versions of each of the songs on Disc Two (though “Where You Lead” is missing, as apparently she never played that live in those days). The live versions are all just Carole and her piano, mostly recorded in 1973, though a few are from 1976. Beautiful, intimate, emotional versions. Very nice. The songs on Tapestry are perfect in this setting.  There’s also a nice booklet with credits, lyrics and an essay by Harvey Kubernik. It’s a worthwhile addition to the catalog and for anyone who loves this album I’d highly recommend it, especially if you don’t already have it on CD. Even if you do, it’s worth picking up this version. Amazon has it on sale right now for $12.99, a great price.

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