American singer-songwriter Carole King poses in record producer Lou Adler's office in March 1971 in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jim McCrary/Redferns)

Mandatory Music: Carole King ‘Tapestry’ Turns 50, Still Our Top Rainy Day Album

When the swollen grey clouds roll in and the sky opens its floodgates on the barren earth below, there’s still no better album to slap on the stereo and crank up (to a relaxing four) than Carole King’s Tapestry. After five long decades full of Madonnas, Taylor Swifts, and Lady Gagas, Tapestry is still the only solo-female album to hold the number one spot on the Billboard 200 for fifteen straight weeks.

King began writing hit songs for major acts at the age of fifteen after convincing a New York music publisher to hire her on the spot. It wasn’t long before she was churning out hits like ‘Up On the Roof’ for The Drifters, ‘One Fine Day’ for The Chiffons, and ‘Loco-Motion’ (a hit for every act who covered it). Yet after trying her hand as a recording artist with little fanfare, she had all but retired as a singer by 1966.

A divorce from husband (and writing partner) Gerry Goffin and a move to Laurel Canyon changed all that.

In 1970, at the urging of easy-listening guru James Taylor, King recorded her first full-length album, Writer. It was panned by critics who complained about her flat singing, with some predicting King would never record another album. Boy were they wrong. King headed back to the studio in January 1971, and with the help of Taylor and fellow songstress Joni Mitchell, laid down what would become her seminal work. Mere weeks later, just one day after her 28th birthday, Tapestry was unfurled.

From the very opening chords, King strikes with confidence, laying bare all the longing, sentimental, self-analyzing meanderings she’d collected over the last decade. While the album is a masterclass in songcraft, with hits like “I Feel the Earth Move,” “Love Me Tomorrow,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “Too Late,” it’s the easygoing camaraderie of the album as a whole that slips under your skin over 45 soul-soothing minutes. And of course, the almost rancorous caterwauling of King who is at once mad at her past and hopeful for better days ahead.

After surviving a brutally long year stuck inside from one insanely “rainy day,” what better medicine is there to help us kiss off the past and welcome the future than Carole King’s Tapestry.

Cover Photo: Jim McCrary (Getty Images)

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