As Loretta Lynn mentioned in a Twitter post earlier today, 1971 was a great year for music. In particular, Lynn raved about Carole King and her debut album, “Tapestry” which came out fifty years ago. The breakout album spent fifteen weeks at the top of Billboard’s Top 200 and solidified itself as one of the great grassroots albums in American music.
“50 years ago was a good one for great albums!” Loretta Lynn said on her Twitter post. “There is not a more brilliant songwriter than Carole King and her “Tapestry” album proves it by standing the test of time. It’s a good year for a 50th-anniversary!”
Carole King and her “Tapestry” album started to shape the landscape for singer-songwriters moving forward in the pop world. Her real-world and relatable songs landed hard among everyday Americans. This also opened doors for artists like James Taylor, who worked with her on her album, and Joni Mitchell. This Americana movement led by Carole King simply created a new avenue for songwriting. Unglamorous, underproduced, raw.
James Taylor on Carole King
James Taylor and Carole King both had hands deep into this singer-songwriter movement. In fact, they worked together on many projects, including King’s breakout “Tapestry” album.
“In a funny way, it was almost like Obama’s first presidential run,” Taylor said about Carole King gaining momentum. “When he sprinted through the campaign so quickly that the Republican dirt machine didn’t get him in their sights. People didn’t get a chance to say, ‘Oh, Carole — she doesn’t really have a singer’s voice.’ Or, ‘She’s a mother.’ Or, ‘She’s from Brooklyn.’”
“The first thing you knew about it was, here’s this incredible material,” Taylor continued. “People heard it and said, ‘Yeah, that’s for me.’ It was like a first-pitch home run.”
Both of these artists ended up performing at Joe Biden’s inauguration fifty years later. That speaks to both the timelessness and the universal relatability of their kind of music. Both of them, particularly Carole King at the time of recording “Tapestry,” were everyday humans. Unbothered and uncorrupted by fame or fabricated ideals of love and relationships.
Many famous musicians in pop, country, and other American genres sang more about the romanticized version of love and relationships and heartbreak. However, Carole King led a movement of truthfulness and honesty in songwriting. That is one of the main reasons we folks like Loretta Lynn still rave about “Tapestry” fifty years later.