Not only is Carole King responsible for the building blocks of pop music, she's no doubt had a hand shaping and soothing your life, too. From her teen days in the boy's songwriting club of the Brill Building (she famously partnered with Gerry Goffin), to her 1971 Tapestry of chart-topping ballads, the lithe, lilting voice of her generation has crafted a seriously intimidating songbook.
For others, Will You Love Me Tomorrow?, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Up on the Roof, (You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman. For herself, It's Too Late, So Far Away, I Feel the Earth Move, songs that made her one of the best-selling artists in history. And for her babysitter, a young girl named Eva … The Loco-Motion.
Kicking off a new tour (her first since '05) at Ruth Eckerd Hall tonight, King is once again making news, and not just for her music. A proud Democrat, she recently, and gamely, appeared on The Colbert Report. ("It was the greatest," she says, "so much fun.") She's been an outspoken supporter of Hillary Clinton and now Barack Obama ("Hillary is rolling up her sleeves and doing everything she can to help Obama become president").
And for two decades, she's been fighting to pass the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act ("This is the largest intact ecosystem in the lower 48. It's giving back oxygen into the atmosphere and helping (offset) global warming. … But we're fighting industrial interests that are greatly subsidized.")
She's also writing an autobiography detailing her life as one of pop's trailblazing talents — not that she sees herself as a feminist hero. With so much going on, the 66-year-old King still had time to play 3 Questions with us:
As a meticulous crafter of pop, do you ever hear one of your classics on the radio — say The Loco-Motion or It's Too Late — and want to tweak a word here, a note there?
Nope. I like them all. And people seem to like them all. Do I want to go back and change my children? No, I don't.
You're working on an auto- biography. Is it easier to write a hit song or a good book?
I've been working on the book for a long time, and I've been living it for 67 years. (I tell King she's actually only 66.) Oh, you're right! I'm already anticipating next year! … It's harder to write a book because it takes longer than three minutes. Wait, that sounds wrong. It isn't difficult. It's just a different set of skills.
Your daughter, Louise Goffin, who'll be playing with you tonight, is a successful singer-songwriter. When she wanted to go into the family business, were you hesitant?
I didn't have any hesitation, but I did tell her it could be difficult. But she was very determined about this. … For me, I never perceived (the music business) as difficult. I was raised to think I could do anything. Nobody every told me you can't do it because you're a woman. But I hear from women in Louise's generation that I've made it easier for them. And that's nice.
Sean Daly can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.
Carole King performs at 8 p.m. today at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $75-$125. (727) 791-7400.