Carole King's autobiography “A Natural Woman: A Memoir,” released April 10 by Hachette Book Group's Grand Central Publishing, tells the tale of the most successful female songwriter of the last half of the 20th Century: from her beginnings in working-class Jewish Brooklyn through her success as an acclaimed singer and songwriter. In all, more than 400 of her songs have been recorded by 1,000+ artists, resulting in 116 charted singles.
One day after its release, “A Natural Woman” shows that King, now 70, is still the queen: It ranked No. 1 on amazon.com on its Arts, Biographies and Entertainment & Humor tallies.
King's first hit was "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," recorded by The Shirelles, which topped the singles chart in 1961. In 1967, she delivered Aretha Franklin’s signature song, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," which reached No. 8 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Urban chart. That year, she also co-wrote with lyricist partner and first husband Gerry Goffin “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” a No. 3 smash for The Monkees. And the hits just kept coming: “The Loco-Motion” (Little Eva, Grand Funk Railroad, Kylie Minogue), “Up On the Roof” (The Drifters, “Go Away Little Girl” (Steve Lawrence, The Happenings, Donny Osmond) “One Fine Day” (The Chiffons), “I’m Into Something Good” (Herman’s Hermits), “It’s Going To Take Some Time” (The Carpenters) and “Take Good Care of My Baby” (Bobby Vee).
In 1971, King’s solo “Tapestry” also made King one of the most important voices of the era, remaining at No. 1 for 15 consecutive weeks and locked on the Billboard 200 for a staggering six years. It sold 25 million copies worldwide and reaped four Grammy Awards, including Album, Song and Record of the Year. The collection was also chock full of hits, including No. 1’s “I Feel the Earth Move” and “It’s Too Late,” as well as top 20s “So Far Away” and “Smackwater Jack.” James Taylor took his version of “You’ve Got A Friend” to No. 1, which King also recorded for “Tapestry.”
By that point, she was a mother of three and divorced from Goffin. In the memoir, she candidly discusses their complex relationship—which unraveled as his mental health deteriorated. And despite her success, King was always a bit of a reluctant, accidental star who preferred life outside of the spotlight.
In all, King had six top 10 albums as a singer, including late 1971’s “Music,” 1972’s “Rhymes and Reasons,” 1974’s “Wrap Around Joy” and in 2010, “Live At the Troubadour” with James Taylor. King was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009. She and Goffin received the Grammy Trustees Award in 2004.
In 1997, she had her last chart topper with “The Reason” which she originally pitched to Aerosmith, but it was recorded by Celine Dion, and produced by Sir George Martin. The song was not released in the U.S., but in France, it was No. 1 for 13 weeks and sold 1 million copies; while but reaching No. 11 in the U.K. and No. 13 in Ireland. “Reason” was also a cornerstone of the first VH1 “Divas” concert, which starred Dion, Franklin, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain—with King as a featured guest. The telecast included an ensemble performances of King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
Throughout her “A Natural Woman,” King not only reveals the inner workings of the music industry in the early 1970s... her dealings with legends Alan Freed, Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegun... and her own fears as an onstage performer, but she truly paints the portrait of a generation… the culture, the birth of rock n’roll, the Civil Rights movement, Women’s Liberation… and her relationships with such musical royalty as Bob Dylan, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Paul & Linda McCartney, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, The Eagles and Chrissie Hynde. She tells all in a colloquial, almost down-home style, as if you’ve curled up next to a roaring fire in her Idaho mountain home with an old comrade. Truly, by the time one reaches the end of “A Natural Woman,” in King, you feel like you’ve got a friend.
Read an excerpt from the book here.