(Post by John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia – October 2021)
It was 1971 and I had just become an adult. I had turned 13 after all. My parents didn’t seem to agree and used words like ‘adolescent’,’teenager’ and phrases like ‘while your living under our roof’ and ‘these are the rules’.
Oh well, there was always the world of popular music to explore. School chums were opening up my mind with their various recent purchases. LPs were in and singles or 45s now a bit passé. Jethro Tull, Yes and Genesis were on my sonic radar but until I had enough spondulix, rifling through my brothers’ record collection would have to do.
What have we here then ? Blues, blues, more blues. A cover with a blue lady on it called ‘Blue’ by Joni Mitchell – I might come back to that one. This is a new one. A comely young lady sitting in the light of a window with a cat (called Telemachus incidentally) at her feet.
“Tapestry” by Carole King.
This album is so much more than an anthem of love and lovers, lost, ended, distanced and discarded. Not simple piano ballads but a complex mix of rock, blues and gospel styles.
It opens with the tumbling bar blues of “I Feel The Earth Move” which AllMusic critic Stewart Mason describes as “the ultimate in hippie-chick eroticism” and “sounds like the unleashing of an entire generation of soft-spoken college girls’ collective libido”. I’ll have what he’s having !
“So Far Away” introduces Laurel Canyon alumni James Taylor on acoustic guitar.
Lyricist Toni Stern wrote the words for “It’s Too Late” in one afternoon after breaking up with the aforementioned Mr Taylor. I probably would have gone with ‘ you’re a pig James and I hate you. PS. I faked my orgasms !’ But then I’m not a lyricist or been dumped by James Taylor. (or faked an orgasm !!)
“Way Over Yonder” would not be out of place among the congregation of a deep south Gospel church (praise be).
Who hasn’t, after the shittiest of days, sat themselves down in a darkened room and dripped a tear into their tumbler of malt whisky/can of special brew/advocaat and babycham/mug of chamomile tea (select appropriate beverage) listening to “You’ve Got a Friend” whether King’s or JT’s version.
The Shirelles had a pop hit in 1961 with “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”. Composer Carole slows it down to an achingly soulful ballad with backing vocals from James Taylor and Joni Mitchell (where have I seen that name before ?)
And who can forget Aretha’s 1967 empowering rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” tastefully performed here by it’s creator.
I’ve skipped over a few tracks but there are no dull moments to be found on “Tapestry” every song a gem of an anthem.
So everybody, get your child or grandchild, male, female or non-binary, rip out their earbuds, nail their feet to the floor, put the record on the turntable (Yep, I’m talking vinyl, baby) crank it up and say ‘THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT !!’
Sorry, might of got a wee bit carried away there !
My life has been a tapestry
Of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision
Of the ever-changing view
You’ve got that right CK. 50 years on and you’ve got that right.