Cover Image: Carole King's Tapestry

Carole King's Tapestry

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"Tapestry" was introduced to me by my mom, a huge Carole King fan. King's music was illuminating to me. Not only was she an absolutely amazing singer, but her songs resonated in such a deep part of me, even at such a young age. Plus, having a female Jewish singer-songwriter played in my house showed me I could be one if I wanted to (or had the talent, but that's another story.)

I found this book to be incredibly illuminating. I never thought of "Tapestry" in the context when it was released and the sexual politics around it. This is a must read if you have any interest in music!
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Carole King's Tapestry is one of my all-time favorite albums. Loren Glass goes into depth regarding King's standout album and immerses you in the music through the power of the written word.
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I have yet to meet anyone who is not familiar with the Tapestry recording and they all have a favorite song that they still know all the words too.  This one recording led so many people to talk about the issues behind the music, Carole King started her own revolution.  I loved Loren Glass's comments and references to other musicians that all have a "Carole King" element to their own music.  Great book for music lovers and music history buffs.
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I have loved Carole King since I was a teenager and found my mom's copy of Tapestry, so I was excited to see that it had been chosen for the 33 1/3 series. 

The book begins with a short biography of King, and focuses on more on the whole of King's career, rather than Tapestry itself. It's clear that Mr. Glass is a huge Carole King fan and is knowledgeable and mostly reverential (excluding the jarring and completely unnecessary comment about her undergarments), but I didn't particularly like his treatment of this book. It became awkward and repetitive and I think I would have preferred to have a brief overview of her career and more detail on Tapestry itself with an in-depth discussion its songs rather than a discussion of how Tapestry fit into a trilogy of albums. 

Still, this is definitely worth reading if you are a fan of Ms. King, or have an interest in music and the process of creating it. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Academic for the opportunity to read Carole King's Tapestry in return for my honest opinions.
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This book is a great exploration of the dawn of the women's liberation movement through the lens of Carol Klein aka Carole King.

The first part of the book is a straight ahead biography of King. This helped put her art into better focus. The problems she had with her first husband and her subsequent life as a single mom help show why King eschewed the traditional sexuality of the young female pop singer. King had a couple of kids to take care of and didn't have time for that nonsense. This maturity also helped her act as an equal of James Taylor and other male singers on the Laurel Canyon scene. King's ability to make her own path in the music industry made her an iconoclast. There aren't that many women even today who have been able to be as confident and assured as her.

I also enjoyed the discussion of the artistry of her post-Tapestry albums. While she never quite reached the heights of Tapestry, she continued to make music that reflected her journey through life. The last chapter talked about the inevitable evolution of a lot of singers from the 60s and 70s: the cash in. King grossed $58 million on a tour she went on in the 2000s, she sold her album exclusively through Starbucks, and also did other commercial tie-ins. I'm not knocking the hustle, but it's interesting that someone who seemed so dedicated to keeping her music pure later succumbed to the temptation of riches and fame.

I recommend this book to any music fan.
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I adored Carole King’s Tapestry album throughout my pre-teen years. As a piano student, I finally had something that I could play, and even sing with, that was also playing on the radio. But I neither knew, nor truly cared, about the singer/songwriter who produced the album. However, I snatched up this book to rectify that issue fifty years later.

That’s right. The album came out fifty years ago people. Only my imminent retirement is keeping me from a strangled scream right now. But I digress because I would assume that all the readers of this book will be boomers too.

If you enjoyed Carole King’s Tapestry album in your past, this book will give you many more details about how it was created. It also explains how it differs from Carole’s prior and subsequent work. More interesting to me, it explores Carole’s personal life. At the time, not much was said about this intensely private artist. Now, many of her secrets have been exposed. There is much talk here about her lyricist and first ex-husband, Gerry Goffin’s many infidelities, rampant drug use and subsequent mental health diagnosis.

If you liked the Tapestry album, this is probably the definitive look behind the scenes at its creation and the world in which its singer/songwriter inhabited. I am taking off half of a point because the book is structured in weirdly self-contained chapters, like college essays, that repeat some facts. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars!

Thanks to Bloomsbury Academic and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Carole King’s album, Tapestry, became an anthem for young women in the 1970s. It later is given its due in the Broadway musical Beautiful, which tells the story of the earlier part of Carole’s life. The album remains beloved by many and that includes new fans as well.

In the introduction the author shares the very personal way that Tapestry became a part of his life, as well as that of the author’s mother. The book goes on to place King in the context of her time. Those who have followed Carole King will revisit material that is known to them including her early family life, her relationship with Gerry Goffin and more. That should not interfere with enjoying this title. Those who want to learn more about 1970s music will also want to immerse themselves in this book. Listen to the album as you read and appreciate all that Carole King gave to the music world.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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This latest entry in the 33 and 1/3 series is more a summary of Carole King in the 1970's than it is about "Tapestry." That is not a bad thing; in fact, the overview of her pre-"Tapestry" career and the rest of the 1970's following the release of "Tapestry" helps tell the complete picture of just how ground-breaking an album "Tapestry" was. You get a sense that her career was never as successful as it was in 1971,  before or after "Tapestry." The author also paints a vivid portrait of life in the America during this time period and places "Tapestry" in social and historical context. But the focus of a book like this should be on the music, and this book does not disappoint. The middle 1/3 of the book focuses on the 12 tracks that make up this fantastic album, delving into the meanings behind each of the songs and how Carole's deeply personal songwriting connected with a generation. If you're a fan of Carole or the early 1970's singer-songwriter movement, you will enjoy this book..
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I DO love Carole King's music.
I DO love the 33 1/3 series.
These two are a match made for me.

I grew up with Carole King's singles on AM radio in the 70s, beginning with the "It's Too Late"/"I Feel the Earth Move" 45 rpm single. They are at the top of my list on the soundtrack of my life.

Loren Glass has recreated that remembrance  for me in her account of the "Tapestry" masterpiece album. Glass gets it right when she too was hearing this album and reminiscing about the effect it had on her mother and other women during the second emergence of Women' Lib in 1971. It was like that in my household too where I lived with just my mother and sister and their awakenings.

I am also taken that Glass describes the raw sexual content in "I Feel the Earth Move". I felt it too and so much wanted to encounter a lady like that now that I was getting closer to post-pubescence.

I also enjoyed Glass' continued journey in King's post-Tapestry catalogue that she would never reclaim in the eyes and hears of 'critics'. (I would add to my imaginary conversation with Loren about the linking of sound and growth between "It's Too Late" and the later 1976 "Thoroughbred" album song "Only Love Is Real". -- and certainly, Carole King IS a fine 'thoroughbred'.)

The whole 33 1/3 series is like siting with a friend over a beer and talking about music we loved, but unlike with others we know who are unable to say more than just "Uh, Yeah, I sure dug that", our conversation  would have a great depth and recollection about emotions and personal history with such great albums. And, as Loren Glass offers up, "Tapestry"  really is one of the first, if not the first, coming-of-adulthood albums for the  singer-songwriters  who sang about and added substance to our lives.
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Last week Carole King's Tapestry turned 50 years old. Those that love the album pass it down through generations. You always discover Carole King from someone; it's the best gift. 

I've read a few of these 33 1/3 books and I've found the majority of them to be long-winded and pretentious, providing information about the author that doesn't really inform the work they're writing about. Glass' poetic autobiographical introduction sets the scene for the time. As someone who grew up on the east coast in the 90's, I had no idea what it was liking in San Francisco in the 70s. 

Glass recounts King's career start as a songwriter. Often paired with other artists, she helped write some of the most well known pop songs of all time. King's career as a solo artist started out slowly with her first two albums plagued with over-producing and instrumentation. 

The focus of the book, of course, is Tapestry. Glass goes through each track thoroughly describing every step of the process on how the album came to be. Having just listened to the album on the 50th anniversary, these tracks were fresh in my mind and Glass' writing has enhanced my understanding of the album. 

Overall, I found the book informative and enjoyable. I did find the final section of the book to be a bit dry, particularly in describing her later albums. King is notoriously private person and the book would've been helped by quotes from King. Without that it feels more academic, which may have been the author's intention as this series of books can be dry.
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The intro to this 33 1/3 on Carole King's Tapestry is one of the best bit of economical scene setting I've seen done in years. And its in a book that doesn't really need it, it is after all a monograph about one of the best selling albums of all time. And yet to take us to a San Francisco post divorce lesbian led household, singing circles and feminist groups, to be a child in that setting and the central cultural artefact being Tapestry, it answered the "Why?" question better than most. And as mentioned above, the "Why do a monograph about Tapestry?" is not really a question that needs to be asked. Perhaps why take so long?

I don't have a family history with the album, I bought a second hand, warmly scratched version when I was 25 (I think the same day I bout Pretzel Logic). I think I played it pretty religiously for about three months after that, it coincided with a few life moments that it lyrically helped me with. And in this terrifically structured book Glass identifies this, more than anything, as the secret of the album. That King's themes, and playing, not to mention the atmosphere of friendship that runs through the album, is what makes it work. I re-listened whilst reading, and there are at least three points on the album where I got goosebumps, again. The opening banging on the piano that marks "I Feel the Earth Move" is still one of the best album opening statements of intent that I can think of, and Glass pays as much attention to the sequencing of the album as to some of the songwriting. He even uses my favourite trick of saying the track he doesn't rate is necessary to give this bit of genius a minor flaw.

Its a great read just for the tidbits, the idea that Tapestry was being made while Joni Mitchell's Blue was being made next-door is astonishing, and makes you listen to the James Taylor-Joni Mitchell back up in Natural Woman in a very different way. There is a also a number of claims and jumping off points which are fascinating, the idea of this being such a sexual album without King being a sex object is interesting, and the idea of it as a shared generational touchstone passed particularly from mother to daughter.  Glass is lucky in that he doesn't need to argue particularly for the albums merits, but he doesn't use that to rest, and his prose bought not just the album alive to me again, but also made me hear things I had become over-familiar with.
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Carole King's Tapestry by Loren Glass is an informative assessment of King's album in relation to that period as well as within her entire musical output.

A quick word about the 33 1/3 series. What I find appealing about it may well be what some find frustrating, namely, the freedom each author is given in approaching their album of choice. I like that one volume may be almost strictly about the tracks and the making of the album while another volume may speak to the album tracks almost exclusively in what they say about the artist's career or even the author's own life. Most of the volumes do some mixture of it all. I realize some want just a straightforward, track-by-track recap of the album. While most do some kind of recap, most explore other aspects whether more personal or more societal.

Glass here chose a blend of approaches and rather than continuously shifting gears gave a chapter over to each broad analysis he offers. So we have background, Tapestry as part of her “trilogy,” and as part of her complete oeuvre. We also get some idea of what influence she had on both her contemporary and future artists. This certainly gives the impression of being just a bunch of unconnected essays but they are meant to be taken together as several distinct perspectives on a classic album.

For the record, I never outgrew my Beatles love, I found their later material quite “adult” and so I never left them behind. Listeners who can approach the same music from different perspectives over time, and be aware of it, doesn't feel the need to “outgrow” any artist or song. They may choose to leave it behind because they find an aspect no longer pleasant, but outgrow is just a lazy way of admitting weak listening skills.

Aside from Glass' lack of such skills, the book is quite good and well worth a read for those who, like me, remember the album very well when it was first released as well as those who simply know some of the songs and have heard about the album. 

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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More of an overview of King’s career than an analysis of her most famous album, the book is uneven.  For those who want more discussion of the individual tracks on Tapestry, this will no doubt be a tad disappointing.  However, the author does a good job of explaining the importance of King’s work as establishing the female singer-songwriter ‘s importance in the 1970s.
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A reappraisal of Carole King's musical output including in depth analysis of Tapestry.  A brief biography of the artist. A must for anyone who was there for Tapestry first time round.
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A bit workpersonlike, this account of Carol King's Tapestry, like a few of the 33 1/3 series, is at the same time too short and too long.  There is some intriguing personal detail about the author's childhood and initial contact with Tapestry, some exploration of the album's influence, but rather too little discussion of Tapestry itself (and King's surrounding records).  Given the material, it could have been so much more.  There is some clumsy writing e.g. an odd comparison with growing out of The Beatles, and the stating the obvious observation that "King's lyrics are not as literary as [Jane] Austen's prose". Overall, this will appeal if you are interested in Carol King, Laurel Canyon or the music of the early 1970s, but it could have been so much more.
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This title in Bloomsbury’s thoughtful 33 1/3 series is by Loren Glass, a professor of English at the University of Iowa in the USA. Writing about music is always a curious business – “dancing about architecture” -  and Glass takes a personal approach, dedicating the book to his mother and describing his memory of “the singer songwriters whose albums [she] played as I was growing up.” Tapestry was one of her favourites and Glass links it to the sexual revolution of the sixties and the feminism which followed. He observes that King favours the term “woman” over “girl” and how she sang as “the subject, not the object, of sexual experience and desire.” Tapestry, says Glass, “heralded a new, more equitable era for parents and their children.” He also writes that “the peak years of the women’s liberation movement coincide with the apogee of the long-playing album as an art form.”

There are five chapters in this short volume. One of the slightly odd things about the book is that each chapter feels almost complete in itself. The introduction is an essay in its own right. Next comes Maturity, giving the biographical background about King and her turbulent relationship with husband and lyricist Gerry Goffin. Then comes Trilogy, describing the three albums which King calls a trilogy in her autobiography: Now that everything’s been said, Writer, and Tapestry itself. Glass describes the recording of Tapestry and then gives a song by song commentary. Chapter 3 (or 4) is Celebrity, looking at King’s profile and career following Tapestry. The book closes with Legacy, looking at King’s later more retrospective career and reflecting on the significance of Tapestry today.

Glass goes over the top from time to time. ““No album before or since has been able to speak so intimately to so many for so long,” he says. And later that, “Only the Beatles have achieved this degree of cross-generational appeal … but most of us grow out of our Beatles phase while Tapestry endures.” I could do without the hyberbole; it is of course a fine album but one of the curious things is that it was James Taylor who better caught the magic of You’ve got a friend, in my opinion, and Aretha Franklin (for whom the song was written) who has the best performance of (You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman. 

I enjoyed the book and learned a lot about Carole King, Tapestry, and the other albums Glass covers in some detail. I also appreciated the personal approach. On the other hand, I am not convinced the book is structured in the best way; it seems repetitive at times and I would have liked a sharper focus and more detail on the album itself, perhaps gathering together some of the fragmented commentary into a longer song-by-song analysis. Still a good read for anyone who loves this classic album.
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”If Jane Austen came back as a gutsy, guileful, Brooklyn girl, with a knack for a lyrical and musical hook, she’d be Carole King.” - Harvey Kubernik

’No album before or since has been able to speak so intimately to so many for so long. It both embodies and transcends its time.’

Carole King’s Tapestry is the album I have consistently turned to when I want inspiration, or just to feel a connection, an understanding that there is someone, somewhere out there who has felt what I’ve felt or am feeling. Someone to share joy or heartbreak or just a sense of missing that sense of joy that comes when you feel the joy of just listening to a song that is part of the soundtrack of your life. Someone who has been there, and felt those same things, and is sharing their own personal, honest, timeless feelings. The journey of a life.

’The passage from the wistful and anxious “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” to the soaring affirmation of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” on side two of Tapestry encapsulates the passage from girl to woman, both for King personally and for the generation of women to and for whom she wrote and sang.’

I listened to the album while reading this, which added to my enjoyment. There are parts of reading this which I enjoyed more than others, and listening to Tapestry really enhanced my reading. I did appreciate the author’s stories and enthusiasm for Carole King, her songs, her writing, and the significance of this album, as well as her journey in the face of the music and entertainment industry, which, at the time, were primarily run by men, focused on the music of men: individual male singers, male groups. Picture the audience at a Beatles concert, for instance, or going back to Elvis, or even Frank Sinatra, to understand why. The photographs in the news of the frenzied fans sold records, too. Carol King, along with others, helped pave the way for other female singers regardless of genre.

The publication of this book, which is part of the 33 1/3 series of short, music-related books, is scheduled to coincide with the album’s 50th anniversary.

Pub Date: 11 Mar 2021

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Bloomsbury Academic

#CaroleKingsTapestry #NetGalley
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Aaa Tapestry ! This album was released the year of my birth and I likely heard this in utero. I certainly heard this album countless times as a young child along with Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield (my goddess) and Carly Simon.

When I saw this on Netgalley. I just had to request to put this album in context of the times and the strangeness of my own childhood. Strange in the sense, that my mum and dad had just arrived in Canada a couple of years prior to my birth, were multi-ethnic and spoke no English. Yet, they loved their album collection which included Portuguese Fado, Arabic love songs, Grecian Rebetika, Slavic Folk and Classic Turkish ballads. Interspersed with this my auntie introduced my parents to the lovely ladies above as well as Musical Theatre, Opera, Jazz and Chamber music. Although having only a rudimentary education the three of these lovely loving people (Mama, Papa and Auntie) made my childhood extraordinarily rich.

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and Bloomsbury Academic for an ecopy in exchange for my honest review. This will be released in March 2021.

Mr. Glass wrote a perfectly acceptable essay on this album interspersed with his own experience of the album and how it fit into second wave feminism and the burgeoning singer-songwriter scene.

However, I did not buy many of his interpretations nor find them so interesting. The coverage of Ms. King's circumstances and psychology were quite superficial and his musical critique of her ouevre was both overly detailed and lacking. I also found the layout rather clumsy.

I would say pull out your old scratched copy of the album itself and just have a good relisten. I would only recommend this to Carole King mega-fans or collectors of this series of books that covers all sorts of iconic albums.
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