This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #299: It’s Too Late by Carole King.
Alright, my “Tapestry” fans, this post is for you!
There are a lot of younger folk today who have never heard of Carole King. That is too bad because she is one of the most successful female singer/songwriters in the last half century. Over the course of her career, King has written 118(!) songs that have cracked the Billboard Top 40 Charts, which is the most ever for a female, in any era, in any musical genre. She has won four Grammy Awards and has been elected to The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, too.
Her love of music all started when she was a child. In pre-school, it was discovered that she had a musical gift known as “perfect pitch”. She was accelerated through her elementary school and entered high school a few years younger than her classmates who, at the time, included young male singers named Paul Simon and Neil Sedaka. At age 17, she married a young man named Gerry Goffin who, unbeknownst to either of them at the time, would go on to become one half of one of the most successful songwriting partnerships ever! The first song they sold that charted was, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by The Shirelles. Over the next decade, they went on to write such standards as “The Loco-Motion” for Little Eva, “Up On The Roof” for The Drifters, “I’m Into Something Good” by Herman’s Hermits, “One Fine Day” by The Chiffons and “You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman” for the Queen of Soul, herself, Aretha Franklin.
King and Goffin drifted apart as the 1960s came to an end. Not long thereafter, they divorced and King began associating with fellow singer/songwriters, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. With their enthusiastic support, she covered some previous hits of hers, as well as, new, original material and released a new album called, “Tapestry”. “Tapestry” went on to become one of the most successful albums of all-time. It was certified thirteen times platinum and has sold over 25 million copies worldwide. It contained hits such as “I Feel The Earth Move”, “You’ve Got a Friend” and “It’s Too Late”, as well as her renditions of “Natural Woman” and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”. “Tapestry” won The Grammy Awards for “Album of the Year”, “Best Pop Vocal, Female”, “Song of the Year” (“It’s Too Late”) and Record of the Year.
The song, “it’s Too Late” has been hailed as one of the best-written and best sung songs about the end of a relationship ever recorded. The lyrics are mature. There is resignation but not blame nor bitterness. The music has a softness….a jazziness, almost…..about it which corresponded nicely to the mood of heartbreak that was being described in the song. According to King, the song is about James Taylor. “It’s Too Late” is a feminist anthem that doesn’t come across as one. Instead of being preachy and defiant, “It’s Too Late” let’s its’ action do the talking. In this particular case, what is noteworthy about the song is that it was one of the very first hit songs by a female that described ending a relationship with a man on female terms. For a woman to be so publicly in control of her life and her relationships was revolutionary, at the time. Without question, the Alanis Morrisettes and Taylor Swift’s of the more modern music world, all owe a debt of gratitude to Carole King for paving the way for their own emotional tapestries.
If the 1970s were to be said to have a soundtrack then, many of the songs from “Tapestry” would be part of it. Carole King certainly played a prominent role in helping to define her times, with her words and her music. She is one of the legendary female artists that all young women should be aware of because, whether they realize it or not, she is has been helping to open up the world for them since before they were born. Here she is, performing live (which, apparently, she didn’t really enjoy doing) with “It’s Too Late”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “It’s Too Late” by Carole King, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Carole King, can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP for supporting the very best songs of all-time. A link to their wonderful website can be found here.