Music, February 1971: Tapestry

More random music recollections based on the book Never A Dull Moment.

Carole King was in the music business for a lot of years. As a kid who used to read the liner notes, I discovered she was the King in (Gerry) Goffin-King songwriting duo. But in 1971, she invented the album business. Tapestry was recorded in January of that year. A&M house photographer Jim McCrary had tried various pictures around the house before adding the cat Telemachus into the shot.

Tapestry was released on February 10, 1971, the day after her 29th birthday. This is the first ad, from Billboard Magazine. I know that I didn’t purchase it until the summer; I bought the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers the same day. Some years later, I got it again, because I had worn out the grooves. Finally, I acquired it on CD.

Producer Lou Adler wanted to make an album with that demo quality. “He wanted the listeners to visualize Carole King sitting at the piano just for them.” It spent an astonishing 15 weeks at #1 on the US album charts, long after the singles had faded. “By the end of the year, it was still selling 150,000 copies a week in the United States alone.” It was the first “evergreen” album that wasn’t a movie soundtrack or the like.

Two other albums recorded in the same studio the same month were Joni Mitchell’s Blue, one of my favorite albums of all time, and the only Carpenters album I owned, their third. Liking Carpenters’ music was REALLY uncool in the day.

Jesus Christ Superstar was #1 for three weeks during this time. It was a hugely significant source of my understanding/debate about theology and religion, particularly with my friend Pat. It seemed she and I would debate its merits for hours. I knew this album like my daughter knows Hamilton. I always wanted to play Peter.

Pearl, the posthumous album by Janis Joplin, spent nine weeks at #1. I recall working at a factory in 1972 and singing Mercedes Benz, one of the few songs written by Janis. Someone asked me if it were a song by the Temptations; I found that extraordinarily amusing at the time.

Listen to:
Coverville 1159: The Carole King Cover Story II
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – Carole King with the Mitchell-Taylor Boy-and-Girl Choir
You’ve Got a Friend – James Taylor
Little Green – Joni Mitchell
Rainy Days and Mondays – Carpenters
Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin
Just My Imagination – the Temptations
What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying – Jesus Christ Superstar

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