For some Tapestry remains the definitive singer-songwriter album. On release it fitted perfectly with the prevailing vogue for confessional, emotionally charged songs, epitomised by James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and countless others.
But King was steeped in a different tradition than those more folk influenced performers. She had already written over 100 top 40 hits with her partner and lyricist Gerry Goffin, a canon of pop songwriting few have ever equalled. The music industry had changed as pop performers relied less on outside writers following the example of The Beatles and Bob Dylan. The days of the Brill Building were numbered.
It was against this background that Tapestry was recorded. It was initially intended as a set of demos, with a view to offering the songs to other artists, which explains the sparse, airy feel of the recordings. Fortunately, this only added to the record’s warm and intimate feel.
The honed simplicity of King’s lyrics, with their universal themes of love, loneliness and friendship, struck a chord with audiences tired of 60s excess. She even revisited a couple of classics from her back catalogue: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow was arguably more powerful than the Shirelle’s upbeat original, while(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman proved that you didn’t need to be Aretha to sing soul.
Tapestry won four Grammys, sold 10 million copies in less than two years and pushed Carole King into the limelight she deserved. It remains her crowning achievement.