Carole King Biography - 1961 to 1964 (Chapter 4)

 

Page 103 - Carole works on her second # 1 hit

In early 1961, Carole King was a nineteen year old wife and mother, and she had written the # 1 pop song (Tomorrow).  She was now working on refining the chord changes of what would be her and Gerry's second # 1 hit, the bouncy and catchy (if significantly less weighty) Take Good Care Of My Baby.


 

Page 104 - The Halls of Aldon

On any given day in the early 1960's, a tour through the halls of Aldon Music would yield Carole and Gerry (perhaps working up One Fine Day or Oh No Not My Baby) mere yards away from Neil Sedaka and Howie Greenfield (maybe knocking out Calendar Girl or Breaking Up Is Hard To Do), close by Cynthia Weil and her husband Barry Mann (who might be composing On Broadway or You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'.

Rounding out the songwriting teams at Aldon were Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman (A Teenager In Love, Save The Last Dance For Me and This Magic Moment) along with Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry (Be My Baby and Da Doo Ron Ron).


 

Page 107 - The struggles of the people

At a time when Martin Luther King, Jr. was emerging as America's Gandhi, helping to lead and endure the violent struggles comprising the civil rights movement and elite colleges still listed "Religion:_____" on application forms and enforced anti-Jewish quotas, Carole and Gerry were pounding out songs at the piano in their cubicle at Aldon's.

A string of hits the Aldon writers produced - Carole and Gerry's Up On The Roof, sung by the Drifters; Mann and Weil's Uptown, sung by the Crystals; and Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector's Spanish Harlem, sung by the Drifters' Ben E. King as a solo artist - presented the struggles of people of color, not in the South, but in the place the writers knew and loved, New York.


 

Page 109 - Two Against The World

Carole and Cynthia's bond, much more than Gerry and Barry's, had a two-against-the-world quality.  It was embarrassingly un-feminine in 1961 to be a piano-banging, moon/June rhyming, argumentative workaholic. 

Still, if you jumped from the peer to the historical context, Carole and Cynthia were actually filling large-if little remembered-shoes.  The 1920s and 1930s had been a kind of unacknowledged Golden Age of women tunesmiths.  There was Dorothy Fields (I Can't Give You Anything But Love, On The Sunny Side of the Street, A Fine Romance and The Way You Look Tonight); Dana Suesse (The Night Is Young and You're So Beautiful, You Oughta Be In Pictures) and Ann Ronell (Willow, Weep For Me, Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?).


 

Page 110 - The Drifters record Goffin/King songs

Co-workers at Aldon saw that Carole was madly in love with Gerry. But to Gerry, Carole was the girl he got pregnant. Kasha also noticed something else: "Gerry seemed to venerate black women. If you look at the titles of the songs he wrote - What a Sweet Thing That Was, Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby! - they were black titles; they were a black woman speaking."While Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow was still riding the charts, in Feb. 1961, Carole and Gerry got their first song recorded by the Drifters, Some Kind of Wonderful. Followed by When My Little Girl Is Smiling.


 

Page 112 - The Twist

Rhythmic, infectious songs that also invented new dances were deemed to have instant hit potential, thanks to the success of the dance craze known as the Twist.  Based on a song of that name, the Twist was conceived in an Atlanta roadhouse in 1958, courtesy of Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, but popularized by Chubby Checker.  By early 1962, it has become the symbol of the "with-it" style of the young upper middle class.


 

Page 113 - The Loco-Motion

Hot on the heels of the Twist came namesake dance songs like Dee Dee Sharp's Mashed Potato Time, which landed on the charts in 1962.  At Aldon, the race was on to create the next dance craze.  Carole and Gerry came up with The Loco-Motion.

To record The Loco-Motion, they looked around for a black girl singer who had a voice that sounded as much like Dee Dee Sharp's as possible. They found her - she was their babysitter - Eva Boyd. In weeks, the song reach # 1 in August of 1962.


 

Page 116 - Chains

Carole and Gerry wrote a song for the Cookies, Chains.  Between Jeanie's resonant alto, Carole's gospel-plus-Tin-Pan-Alley melody, and Gerry's lyrics combining, as they did, Broadway and black talk ("Chains....My baby's got me locked up in chains / But they ain't the kind that you can see"), the song was not only a hit but was seized upon by a then-unknown singer-guitarist in England named John Lennon.  {The Beatles later recorded it).


 

Page 116 - No More Records

Carole's desire to please Gerry was evident to their friends.  A demo she'd made of a song she and Gerry originally wrote for Bobby Vee, It Might As Well Rain Until September, was released as a single.  It was Carole's own, solo vocal, and it rose to #22 on the charts.  But having his wife as a recording artist displeased Gerry.  According to Jack Keller, "Gerry told her, 'That's it - no more records.'"


 

Page 117 - My Secret Place

One of the most beautiful songs that Gerry and Carole ever wrote - and for the Drifters, to boot, needed a title. Carole had chosen "My Secret Place", signifying an elusive privacy; but Gerry, as homage to his beloved West Side Story, renamed it Up On The Roof.

Up On The Roof reached #5 in February of 1963; Sherry Goffin was born a month later. Carole's next hit with Gerry, One Fine Day, for the Chiffons, reached #5 three months after she delivered. The melody of the song-like that of a hit she would write a year later, Oh No Not My Baby, for Maxine Brown-is plaintive and rapturous, a cut above standard pop fare. Also, soon after Sherry's birth, Carole and Gerry wrote would be the Cookies' biggest hit, Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby).


 

Page 119 - Goffin fathers a love child

Carole, Gerry and the Cookies were all back in New York, recording one afternoon toward the end of November. "We were in the middle of the session-and somebody ran in and said, 'President Kennedy has been shot!' We all went into a state of shock. There was such sadness. We loved him!", says Jeanie.

Further complicating the intense emotions in the recording studio that fateful day was this fact: Jeanie was newly pregnant with Gerry's baby. There was no way that Gerry Goffin was not going to claim paternity of this love child, born to this beautiful black singer. Gerry loved West Side Story; now he and Jeanie were, symbolically, a version of the musical's forbidden lovers Tony and Maria, singing Somewhere.

Into her already eventful twenty-two years (2 daughters, 8 top hits including-Steve Lawrence's saccharine rendition of Go Away Little Girl and 4 #1 hits) was thrown this stunner: The husband she was madly in love with was proudly having a baby with another woman.


 

Page 120 - Carole King keeps it together

Carole kept her young marriage intact, she even sat by while Gerry-with another composer, Russ Titelman-wrote a beautiful love song, I Never Dreamed, for the Cookie's - geared to Jeanie's voice.  She would stay with Gerry and write songs with him, even songs for Jeanie as a solo artist: I'm Into Something Good (which Jeanie recorded and which only achieved hit status when Herman's Hermits released it).

Gerry Goffin - Carole King with children