Weaving through Carole King's 'Tapestry'

The reissue package of Carole King’s 1971 landmark Tapestry finally offers a chance to experience King in “unplugged” recital.
Publish date:

On April 15, the Epic/Ode/Legacy record label, a division of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, released Carole King’s 1971 landmark Tapestry album, the Legacy Edition, which includes such classic recordings “It’s Too Late,” “I Feel the Earth Move” and “You’ve Got a Friend,” alongside a second CD of live Tapestry performances by the singer/songwriter/pianist.

Tapestry was produced by Ode Records label owner Lou Adler, with engineer Hank Cicalo at the board, in California at A&M Studios in Hollywood. It spent 15 weeks at #1, garnered four Grammy awards, including: Album of the Year; Best Pop Vocal Performance (Female) Record of the Year, “It’s Too Late;” and Song of the Year, “You’ve Got a Friend.” Producer Quincy Jones was a 1972 Grammy recepient for an arrangement on his own LP of King’s “Smackwater Jack.”

The album resided fulltime on the charts for six years, generating more than 24 million in sales worldwide, making it one of the most successful discs of all-time.

The 2008 model finally offers a chance to experience Carole King in “unplugged” recital. The second CD in the deluxe package finally realizes Adler’s decades-long dream concept, as it marries a newly remastered version of the classic 12-song album with a second CD containing previously unreleased, live piano-voice concert versions of songs from the album (in the same order) recorded in 1973 (Boston; Columbia, Maryland; and New York’s Central Park), and 1976 (San Francisco Opera House). “Tapestry Live” underscores, as Adler knew before anybody when he signed King to Ode, that Carole King had an instinctive grasp of the job she was born to do.

With the live portion of the package, King has reimagined her monumental 1971 iconic effort, employing a new and different set of vocal and piano musical muscles to her proven soul-bearing copyrights inhabiting the concert stage. The unwinding drama built around King’s grand Steinway refurbished visions are displayed in a live setting.

When Tapestry hit the record bins in 1971, the melodic and sonic impact was not lost on Todd Rundgren, Elton John, the band Traffic in 1972, or, at the time, two music publishing staff songwriters, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who would soon form Steely Dan.

The lasting consequence of Tapestry streamed to post-Vietnam artists, such as Jeff Morrison, Tom Johnson, Tori Amos, Ben Folds, Fiona Apple, Vanessa Carlton, Rufus Wainwright, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Kate Nash and Duffy, who craft pop music analogous to King — all owe a musical and psychic debt to this subject-specific collection of life-altering (and affirming) audio excursions.

As recording artist/actress Reba McEntire proclaims, “I had Tapestry like everyone else in the world did, and it was a huge influence on me.”

In 1995, a plethora of musical artists re-recorded the original numbers for a tribute album, Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King, and in 2003, a second CD salute, A New Tapestry — Carole King Tribute, was minted.

When asked to comment about the impact of Tapestry, King, in a 2008 Epic/Ode/Legacy Records communication, responded, “I feel honored that Tapestry has made a difference in small ways and large ways in peoples’ lives around the world. It’s been a major part of my life, too,” she adds. “As a songwriter, I’m so happy that the songs have held up for all of these years. As a performer, I’m still enjoying playing them live, most recently on my ‘Living Room Tour.’”

Adler first met King in 1961, when he helmed the Sunset Boulevard West Coast office for Aldon Music. King and Gerry Goffin, h