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A Natural Woman: A Memoir Paperback – February 12, 2013
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Weaving a tapestry of rich and royal hue, King's affecting memoir eases readers through her life, from the girlhood in Brooklyn where she was already jotting down lyrics and her teenage years that culminated musically with the hit "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?"; through her tumultuous marriage and songwriting years with her first husband, Gerry Goffin; her moves back and forth between New York and California; her three marriages after Goffin; and her deep commitment to environmental issues bred by her living self-sufficiently with her family in the mountains of Idaho. She confronts the physical abuse she experienced at the hands of her third husband; her disbelief that she would let someone treat her that way, and her incredulousness at her own decision to remain in the relationship; and her eventual decision-with the help of an abuse support group-to leave him. King's passionate engagement with all kinds of music, and her musical genius (her Tapestry album remained on the charts for six years running, a distinction that eluded even the Beatles) flood through these reflections, and she recreates the excitement of working with producers such as Lou Adler, Jerry Wexler, and Ahmet Ertegun, musicians James Taylor, Danny Kortchmar, Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, and Aretha Franklin, and songwriters Neil Sedaka, Cynthia Weil, and Barry Mann, among many others.―Publishers Weekly
An acclaimed singer-songwriter invites fans into her personal life.
When King embarked on her Living Room Tour in 2004, she re-created onstage the atmosphere that millions had come to expect from the slew of albums she recorded from the 1970s onward. Tapestry, her breakthrough 1971 album, not only became a bestseller and a benchmark for women's achievements in the music industry but also introduced the down-to-earth, optimistic and liberated worldview of a woman with some timely stories to tell. King's trajectory mirrored that of many of her fellow musical peers. Bitten by the music bug at an early age and subsequently converted to rock 'n' roll in the '50s, she began writing her own songs, landing a record deal at the age of 15. She would experience far greater success, however, when she and co-songwriter Gerry Goffin turned out hit after hit for such artists as Aretha Franklin, the Shirelles and the Monkees. Having married Goffin when she was 17, King spent most of the '60s balancing her career with her responsibilities as a wife and mother. Change was in the air, though, and when her marriage deteriorated, she set off for Los Angeles to seek her own voice. That voice comes through strongly on every page of this memoir, an engaging assortment of recollections comprising a journey that started in her working-class Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, took her to Manhattan and Laurel Canyon and saw her escape what Joni Mitchell called "the star maker machinery" to settle in rural Idaho. In one of the book's best sections, King explains her decision to retreat from fame in the mid '70s, chronicling the joys and sorrows of going "back to the land" as well as the tempestuous relationships she had with two men during this period. She is also refreshingly candid about her four marriages.
A warm, winning read that showcases baby-boomer culture at its best.―Kirkus Reviews
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.
Top customer reviews
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.
I didn't know how much I'd end up admiring and loving this woman while reading the book, and thankful to her for chronicling what she did. She epitomized professionally what we hope for the talents of all girls, all children -- she loves it, she develops it, she pursues it. Her focus on how and what she did to become the artist she eventually became was much appreciated. Her generosity of spirit is amazing. I read elsewhere about some of the other details left out and was surprised, but it was clear she's writing to the next generation who will wonder what happened back then, what did it feel like, what mattered, why did they do that? She writes about music, American society and the harsh changes of that era for good and not, musicians, feminism, herself as a mother but always with a great respect and sensitivity for who might be reading it. It's very respectful but she doesn't sell herself short. She's very clear about her contributions.
I've never bought a Carole King album in my life, but after reading this book I went online and bought (yes Carole, as you asked bought!) the demo version of "It's Too Late" and "Natural Woman" -- oh the joy of hearing something done so well by writer trying to convey 'essence' to another artist!