February 10, 2016
The first track of Tapestry is a fun, upbeat song - but it's not the soul of Tapestry.
For me the album starts with Carol King's simple piano chords and James Taylor's guitar. For me my memories of the two of them are always woven together.
And then Carol sings...
"So far away. Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?"
Tapestry was released in 1971 but I didn't discover it until college.
I'm on the floor in a friend's dorm room listening to a quarter speed master of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". The music is unnaturally loud when we get to the female vocal line in The Great Gig in the Sky.
We didn't have CD's then so there were no digital releases. Record companies realized they could charge more for their vinyl if they produced more dense and true versions of the music using half speed and quarter speed masters. Who knows if they really sounded better? We thought they did. But it was the 70's and we were in college.
We also didn't have the internet then. We read facts in magazines, newspapers, and books.
Dark Side had been on the Billboard top selling albums since it was released in 1973.
Tapestry had been on the same chart longer.
Since then, Tapestry dropped off and Dark Side passed it to become the longest album to stay in the top 100 - but still. Those are two great albums with staying power.
King's "It's too late" starts in my head phones and we're almost at the end before I remember where I am.
"Something inside has died and I can't hide and I just can't fake it."
The lyrics are great - the music catchy - the arrangements dead on.
There's a gospel feel to songs like "Home Again", "Way over Yonder", and "A Natural Woman".
Home Again plays and I'm transported to a road trip with Kim.
We've just dropped Maggie off at college.
We're heading home to an empty house.
It's just us.
"I won't be happy til I see you alone again. Til I'm home again and feeling right".
It's more poignant because we had expected to have three more years before facing an empty house.
Carol sings and "Home Again" has two meanings.
Kim and I drive in silence thinking .about our dead daughter who would be starting her sophomore year of high school. Home Again speaks to a view of heaven where we see Elena again.
"I won't be happy til I see you alone again. Til I'm home again and feeling right"..
On this week's episode of Tiny Challenges I tell Jaimee that time travel is tough.
Before I heard Carol King's version of "You've got a friend" I heard James Taylor play it hundreds of times. I showed up to college with a odd collection of albums that comforted me. Among them: Allman Brothers "Filmore East", Tom Waits "Small Change", and Bootsy Collins "Stretchin out in Bootsy's Rubber Band".
I bought James Taylor's "Greatest Hits" along with a box set of Beethoven's Symphonies recorded by George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. Two greatest hits collections.
I wasn't there, but sophomore year friends of mine went to see Carly Simon play at the Paradise. She couldn't be there for some reason or other. James came and played in her place. They had just split up and friends said it was an emotional evening.
There's a quality in his voice that taps into my emotions still. I find myself tearing up for no particular reason at some of his songs.
King's "Will You Still Love me Tomorrow" features James Taylor on guitar and singing harmonies. I love the sound of them together. I also love each separately.
When no one's around I love to sing.
I sing loudly and badly.
I sing along to albums like Tapestry and James' Greatest Hits.
At the Kennedy Center Awards, Aretha Franklin sang a version of "A Natural Woman" that was stunning. She found every piece of meaning in the song and in her life and shared it with us.
That's not how I sound when I sing along. It's how I sound in my head. It's why sing when I'm in the car or home alone.
When no one's around I love to sing.
It's ok. No one's around.
I'm home again and feeling right