What a fabulous time we’ve had this afternoon. Although I usually avoid big, busy cities, we took the 40 minute train ride to Birmingham. We had an excellent reason for going: some months ago I bought my husband a birthday gift of tickets for the musical Beautiful – the story of American singer-songwriter, Carole King. With more than 150 hits (including 61 UK chart hits) either written solo or co-written with husband Gerry Goffin, she is undoubtedly one of the most successful pop songwriters ever. It was a truly excellent show, at least partly because we knew every song. The audience were ‘of a certain age’ as you might expect, and although they would recognise many of the songs, I doubt many people under forty have much idea who wrote them.
Only in later years, after her split from Goffin, did she begin to sing her own songs and by far the most popular of her twenty five solo albums is the 1971 Tapestry (one of the first I ever bought). It’s oft been said that the best songwriting is born of pain and this album proved that. In those days we called them LPs (long players).
The show charts her rise from talented songwriting schoolgirl to her outstanding one woman show at the prestigious Carnegie Hall. It gave us highs and it gave us lows; it made us laugh and, in places, its poignancy almost made us cry.
Writing for The Drifters, Neil Sedaka, The Righteous Brothers, The Everley Brothers, Bobby Vee, The Monkees and many more, King’s own and co-written songs have been recorded by several artists. Listed below are some of the best known;
Will you still love me tomorrow?
Crying in the rain
It might as well rain until September
Up on the Roof
You’ve got a friend
Take good care of my baby
Halfway to Paradise
Pleasant Valley Sunday