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A Natural Woman: A Memoir Hardcover – April 10, 2012
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About the Author
King, in addition to writing more than 100 top-selling songs has recorded 25 solo albums. In 2007 she and longtime collaborator James Taylor reunited and recorded Live at the Troubadour. Released in 2010 the album debuted at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and The Troubadour Reunion Tour became the second highest grossing Tour of that year. She has won numerous lifetime achievement honors and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, "Hit Parade" Hall of Fame, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Carole King continues to entertain audiences the world over. She released her most recent album in December, 2011, Carole King: A Holiday Carole, to rave reviews.
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Twelve years in the making and I can see why. Carole has always strove to create quality in anything she did. She exemplifies the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity. But in this book, I came to count on the fact that she would somehow always land on two feet. As if she were writing songs, each chapter had a flow, a build, tension, and resolution.
WHAT a page turner! I'm not a fast reader but I peeled through nearly 500 pages in two days (well, I was up to 2am last night to finish...). It was such a beautiful, personal account of her life. Fully vulnerable, fully open. Watching Carole develop from humble (yet precocious) beginnings into a full on legend was a wild and deeply satisfying ride. She was candid about her insecurities as a young girl, small in stature, younger than her peers, always wanting to be part of in crowd, always striving to please her parents. I found her modesty to be most appealing and admirable, especially in the face of her brilliant combination of musical talent and spot on emotional expressiveness. She just said it like she felt it.
Clearly her early habitual musical exposure (banging on D above middle C without end!) allowed her to make the piano an utterly natural extension of her mind. This is something an adult musician can't buy with all the money in the world. Carole is the confluence of so many positive qualities and influences that her eventual legendary status was almost to be expected. Her musical genius emerged over the years despite a turbulent personal life. She ultimately discovered her power as an independent woman, transcending 4 partners of varying degrees of dysfunction and merit. I was left to wonder of her partners along the way, "how could you NOT want to be with this amazing, beautiful, passionate woman forever!?", and yet I suppose her demanding career was doubtless tough competition! Still...!
Though the intense demands of her career did pull her so often from her children, I found her unswerving dedication to her 4 (and her grandchildren) to be heartwarming. And look how they turned out; there is no better testament to her job as mother than this. I commend her for that.
Carole seemed to view adversity (in retrospect) as an expanded ability to empathize -- even falling from a 60 foot cliff gave her the "ability to understand what it was like to be in off-the-chart pain". For an "encore" some years later she fell from a 15 foot stage in the dark (after performing with Bob Dylan) onto concrete! I felt so bad for her (must've have been horrid at the moment).
Her passionate expressiveness I found most appealing (as a man, as a human being). That her writing was as masterful as her musical phrasing comes as no surprise. I also must say that her encounters with so many other legends was exciting to read as a fan, especially James Taylor. She let us be the "fly on the wall" and I thank her for that rare privilege. How fully cool that Carole unceasingly gave credit to every single person who contributed to her success; from the roadies, to the sound techs, to the "cats", to her children, to her parents, to her neighbors, to the people on the subway, the list goes on and on...
Though far from the world of music, I thought the intentionally abreviated account of her drawn out court battle to preserve private rights to her Idaho land was yet another indicator of her keen intellect and dogged determination in the face of adversity. I can only imagine how infuriating and frustrating that bureaucratic nightmare must've have been. But justice prevailed!!
Thank you Carole! For a book on humanity, for such an intimate, authentic account of your journey into the hearts and minds of so many happy fans around the world -- and for putting your own heart so much into everything you've created (including your amazing family).
Five stars, no doubt about it.