Photo by Mark Baptiste
Carole King is explaining that long before writing famous songs with Gerry Goffin, she wrote a lot of “bad songs” first. As an example, she offers this lyric she wrote herself: ‘I know I am the right girl, the right girl for you, ooh ooh ooh, and you, ooh ooh, are the right boy for me too.'”
She then added, “I needed help. And God sent me Gerry Goffin!”
The Great Song Adventure is happy and proud to present this, the second episode of a remarkable five-part series of episodes with Carole King, which is without question the most expansive and unguarded interview she’s ever given.
Episode 1 premiered on 2.8.19, the eve of Carole’s 77th birthday, the ideal time to present this expansive and intimate conversation, and to celebrate one of the great lives in songwriting.
Conducted in her daughter Louise’s home right before Thanksgiving, 2018, Carole opened up about all aspects of her life and work. In this episode she shares more about the charms and challenges of working with her husband, Louise’s father Gerry Goffin, writing “Pleasant Valley Sunday” for The Monkees and more about them., as well as her decidedly mixed feelings about the musical based on their life and work, Beautiful. She also discusses her friend and collaborator James Taylor, and their great musical chemistry.
“It’s been that way since the moment I sat down to play with him for the first time,” she says. “There’s something incredible about our musical connection that transcends time, or who we are, or where we are… When we sat down to play, it was like we were one instrument… and that has remained true every second of our musical life… Even if we don’t see each other for years,” Carole said, “we sit down and we know exactly where we’re supposed to be. It’s a magical, inexplicable thing.”
“But I must add, my writing with Gerry was also a magical, inexplicable thing.”
Carole & Gerry at the National Academy of Songwriter’s Salute to Goffin & King, Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, December 3, 1988. Photo by Mark Blake/SongTalk
That magic has only seemed to increase over the years, as their songs – and ones Carole wrote on her own and with others – have become beloved, modern standards.
Goffin and King, 1960.
As students of songwriting know, even before her two-sided hit “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move” went to number one in 1971, Carole King had already written eight other number one records with Gerry. Together they wrote a multitude of great songs and made many hit records (though both confirm they wrote a lot of lesser songs before reaching the great ones) – songs which are now modern standards, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” “Up On The Roof,” “Locomotion,” “Don’t Bring Me Down” and so many others.
Carole reacting to Aretha Franklin’s amazing performance of
her song “Natural Woman” at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.
She was one of the first to walk that bridge from being a hit songwriter for other artists to being a singer-songwriter herself, and making one of the most essential and beloved albums of that era, Tapestry, produced by Lou Adler. And her songs continued to be defining records for others, most notably “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor, and “Natural Woman,” written with Gerry to a title by Jerry Wexler, recorded by the Queen of Soul, of course, Aretha Franklin.
It was Carole’s idea to do the show. “Knowing of her reticence to do any performances or interviews,” Louise said, “I didn’t ask her to be involved. But she especially enjoyed the interview with Chrissie Hynde. She said she liked it because it was a real conversation, not just a series of questions, like most interviews.”
“So when she was in Los Angeles to visit me and my kids, Carole took the time to do an interview with Paul and me. But first she went to the piano and started sounding out a standard by Rodgers & Hammerstein – “Hello Young Lovers,” from The King and I. Though she didn’t know it, I recorded the song, which opens the first episode.”
Carole & Little Eva
Carole King & Gerry Goffin at their West Orange, New Jersey home
Goffin & King with Paul Simon
Photo by Jim McCrary
Louise Goffin & Carole King, photo by Elissa Kline Photography