I’m convinced Carole King’s album Tapestry is one of the most loved albums of all times. I think about how reluctant she was to become a solo artist in the first place, and I’m so glad she did. It's not only the album that has an uplifting and reassuring effect on me, but also the story behind the album. We look at it today, 50 years after its recording, and we see it as this monumental piece of work. Back then Carole King wasn't sure she was even vaguely on the right track.
“…I had no idea way of knowing what my future held. I just wrote songs, worked hard, created each day’s blueprint from scratch, and hoped to high heaven that I was doing all the right things to give my daughters and myself a good life’, she wrote in her autobiography.
About the idea for it, she is quoted to have said, “I had started a needlepoint tapestry a few months before we did the album, and I happened to write a song called 'Tapestry,' not even connecting the two up in my mind. I was just thinking about some other kind of tapestry, the kind that hangs and is all woven, or something, and I wrote that song. And, you being the sharp fellow you are, (giggles), put the two together and came up with an excellent title, a whole concept for the album.”
Every single song on the album is amazing, but I always thought the title song the most interesting one, both musically and lyrically. She described the mood she wanted for it as “spacious and dark”, and that might be our only clue to the meaning of the song.
It seems obvious that in the last verse death is entering the story, a mere character in the play of life - but the rest of the story, despite vivid details, is left rather mysterious. Personally, I’m of the opinion that it really doesn’t matter what a writer has in mind when writing a song - it’s way more important which meaning it has for the listener. And even that can change over time. I’d be curious to know what your thoughts on the meaning are, though. Please feel free to discuss them in the comments.
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