Friday, December 5, 2014

Carole King, The #35 Artist of the Seventies*

King wrote over two dozen hits in the 1960's, such as "The Loco-Motion" for Little Eva, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" for the Monkees, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" for the Shirelles, "One Fine Day" for the Chiffons, "Go Away Little Girl" for Steve Lawrence, "Take Good Care Of My Baby" by Bobby Vee, "Don't Bring Me Down" for the Animals, and "Up On The Roof" for the Drifters with then husband Gerry Goffin.  She recorded several of her own singles in the 50's and 60's, none of which caught on.

In 1970, King recorded her first solo album, Writer, on Ode Records.  It only peaked at #84 on the Album chart, so Carole set out to improve.  She did, and how.

In 1973, King released her masterpiece Tapestry.  Like another artist coming up in the next ten days, Carole's one album catapulted Carole from outside The Top 100* to #35*.  The double-sided smash "It's Too Late"/"I Feel The Earth Move" landed at #1 in the United States for five weeks, and hit #5 in Australia,  #6 in the U.K., and #8 in Ireland.
"It's Too Late" is still a solid member of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.
With "It's Too Late" and "I Feel The Earth Move" out of the gate, Tapestry was an instantaneous success.  It went to #1 on the Album chart, a position it held on to for 15 consecutive weeks.  The next single, "So Far Away", kept up the blistering sales pace of the album, reaching #3 on the Adult chart and #14 overall.

King won four Grammy Awards:  Album of the Year, and Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop (Popular) Vocal Performance, Female, for "It's Too Late".  The flip side of "So Far Away", "Smackwater Jack", also received considerable airplay.

Tapestry has now been certified Diamond, sales of over ten million copies in the U.S., and Tapestry has topped 25 million in worldwide album sales. .  It likely will continue to sell big as another generation discovers Carole's masterpiece.  King also included her versions of songs she had written for other artists.  "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", which was a huge hit for Aretha Franklin, is another outstanding track on the album.

Tapestry is one of just 50 recordings chosen to be added to the U.S. National Recording Registry for preservation in the Library of Congress, those recordings that are deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important."  When people go to this famous facility to discover Tapestry, one of the songs they'll love is "Beautiful".

Dark Side of the Moon eventually eclipsed King's record, but Tapestry was the album everyone talked about for years as being on the album chart longer than any other in history (302 weeks).  The last track we'll feature from Carole's amazing album should have been released as a single, but it became yet another song that pleasantly surprises people buying the album.  It is the title song.

King released the album Music in 1971, and it was certified Gold within a month.  Music debuted on the Album chart at #8, and for nine consecutive weeks, King had two of the Top 10 albums.  The single "Sweet Seasons" reached #2 on the Adult chart and #9 overall.

Music has now gone Platinum.  King released the album Rhymes and Reasons in 1972.  Carole landed another #1 on the Adult chart with "Been To Canaan", a #24 song on the Popular chart.

Rhymes and Reasons, as well as Carole's 1973 album Fantasy both went Gold.  In 1973, she performed a free concert in Central Park in New York City, which drew 100,000 fans.  King's 1974 album Wrap Around Joy attained Gold status within a month.  The album went to #1, thanks to the great single "Jazzman", a #2 smash in the United States and #5 in Canada. 

"Jazzman" earned Carole a Grammy nomination for Best Female Popular Vocal Performance.  King toured to promote the album, which also contained the #1 Adult song "Nightingale", #9 overall.

King scored songs for the soundtrack album to the animated television show Really Rosie.  The album earned a Grammy nomination for Best Album for Children.

In 1976, King released the album Thoroughbred, which featured not only the songwriting reunion of Carole and Gerry Goffin, but the contributions of friends James Taylor, David Crosby, and Graham Nash.  Thoroughbred was King's sixth consecutive Gold album, and it yielded the #1 Adult song "Only Love Is Real". 
King switched labels, opting to sign with Capitol Records.  She released the album Simple Things in 1977, yet another Gold album.  It contained the #8 Adult hit "Hard Rock Cafe". 

In 1978, Carole released the compilation Her Greatest Hits:  Songs of Long Ago, which also was certified Gold. 

In 2000, King was named by Joel Whitburn as the most successful female songwriter from 1955-99, the writer or co-writer of 118 hits.  Music researcher Stuart Devoy found similar results in the U.K., naming King as the most successful female songwriter on the U.K. charts from 1952-2005.

In 1987, Carole and Goffin were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  The following year, the pai received the National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award.   In 1990, Carole and Gerry were recognized for their songwriting brilliance when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

In 1998, her album Tapestry was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  Two years later, King received the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  In 2004, King received the Grammy Trustees Award.

In 2012, King received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  In 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama presented Carole with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the fourth recipient of the honor in history, and the first woman to be so honored.  The same year, she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.   In 2014, King received the MusiCares Person of the Year Award.

When all of the figures are totaled up for the Seventies, King sold 14.5 million albums.  Among her fourteen hits in the decade, four reached the Top 10, including the huge #1 "It's Too Late".   

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