One of the most influential songwriters, Carole King, is celebrating her 78th birthday today.
King is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century. She wrote or co-wrote 118 pop songs that ended up reaching the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. She also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK.
Besides writing hits, King also had a successful solo career of her own. Her most popular album was “Tapestry.” This would actually hold the record for most weeks at No. 1 for 20 years. It spent 15 weeks at No. 1 and over 300 weeks on the album charts.
She has four Grammys and was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Here are some of her best songs and moments throughout her time as one of the most powerful women in the business.
Songs Written by Carole King
Odds are you’ve heard a Carole King hit. Whether or not you know that is a different story. Songwriters are the hidden heroes of the music industry. Often, their work goes unrecognized by the masses, but without them, we’d have nothing.
One of her own songs is quite popular. That is her 1971 hit, “It’s Too Late.” This is her first single from the album “Tapestry” and it soared to No. 1 upon release.
The song has a Grammy for Record of the Year, while the album won Album of the Year. “It’s Too Late” is perhaps the most successful personal song of her career. The song was written with Toni Stern and is about her love affair with James Taylor.
Speaking of James Taylor, King wrote the song ‘You’ve Got a Friend.” She also had this song on her album, however, Taylor’s version went No. 1 on the pop charts. It won a Grammy for Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Grammy.
One of her most famous songs is “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” in 1967. The song became insanely popular with Aretha Franklin. The song reached No. 2 on the R&B chart. The song has been covered by King, Mary J. Blige, and Celine Dion amongst many. It is one of King’s most popular tunes.
Carole King also wrote the popular The Monkees tune, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” in 1967 with Gerry Goffin. It is a song about status symbols and living a life in suburbia. It was the group’s fourth single to be No. 3.
King is also credited for songs like “Jazzman,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “The Loco-Motion,” and “I Feel the Earth Move” amongst many, many others. Her songs were iconic pieces that often detailed what it was like to be a woman.
Persevering in her Career
Carole King started her career in the music business when she was young. Despite this, she felt that she had gradually earned the respect she deserved in a very male-dominated industry.
“Probably more so because I was so young and I was a female. They probably took me more seriously in a way. Not seriously as an equal but as that’s pretty remarkable that you’re this good and you’re so young and you’re a girl. I mean, that’s, I think – was the attitude. But I was always treated with respect,” King said in an interview with NPR.
Having to deal with roadblocks or issues along the way never stopped King from pursuing her talents.
“When I was younger, I was kind of fearless. I think it takes more courage to do things when you know more. I was completely naive, and I was like, why can’t I do anything I want to do? You know, go for it,” she said in the same interview.
Many of her songs at the time have powerful messages of female empowerment and strength.
In fact, according to her website, she is also a huge supporter of female rights. She marched in 2004 in Washington, D.C., alongside people like Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Smeal, and Senator Barbara Boxer.
“May this be the last time we have to march for choice. May all the Supreme Court justices vote to uphold Roe v. Wade and other decisions that are so important to the well-being of all the good, decent, salt-of-the-earth, hard-working, caring people of the world,” King said during the march.
She is also an environmentalist and has been vocal about COVID-19. King is a caring and deeply loving person.
Even after all her hits, hearing her songs on the radio never gets old.
“It was ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’ And Gerry and I were in his, and what became our, ’56 Mercury. And we’re listening to this come out of the tinny speakers … we’re like, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe this.’ We were just through the roof and to the moon. It was just such a thrill. But that doesn’t go away. I made an album called Love Makes the World. The first time I heard the single “Love Makes the World” — which I wrote with two guys in New York — I thought, ‘Wow, it’s out there. It’s on the radio,'” she said to NPR.