Welcome To AlbumLinerNotes.com
"The #1 Archive of Liner Notes in the World!"

Celebrating Our Shared Musical Heritage

The Legendary Demos

To purchase this recording via Amazon.com, click here: The Legendary Demos

Carole King
The Legendary Demos

Hear Music


1. Pleasant Valley Sunday (2:27)
(Carole King/Gerry Goffin)
Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. (BMI) [circa 1966]

2. So Goes Love (2:51)
(Carole King/Gerry Goffin)
Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. (BMI) [circa 1966]

3. Take Good Care Of My Baby (2:18)
(Carole King/Gerry Goffin)
Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. (BMI) [circa 1966]

4. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (2:53)
(Carole King/Gerry Goffin/Jerry Wexler)
Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. (BMI) [circa 1967]

5. Like Little Children (3:13)
(Carole King/Gerry Goffin)
Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. (BMI) [circa 1966]

6. Beautiful (2:24)
(Carole King)
ColGems-EMI Music, Inc. (ASCAP) [circa 1970]

7. Crying In The Rain (1:48)
(Carole King/Howard Greenfield)
Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. (BMI) / Careers-BMG Music Publishing, Inc. (BMI) [circa 1962]

8. Way Over Yonder (3:25)
(Carole King)
ColGems-EMI Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
[circa 1970]

9. Yours Until Tomorrow (3:14)
(Carole King/Gerry Goffin)
Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. (BMI) [circa 1966]

10. It’s Too Late (3:28)
(Carole King/Toni Stern) ColGems-EMI Music, Inc. (ASCAP) [circa 1970]

11. Tapestry (3:02)
(Carole King)
ColGems-EMI Music, Inc. (ASCAP) [circa 1970]

12. Just Once In My Life (4:02)
(Carole King/Gerry Goffin/Phil Spector)
Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. (BMI) / ABKCO Music, Inc. (BMI) / EMI Blackwood Music, Inc. o/b/o Mother Bertha Music, Inc. (BMI) [circa 1965]

3. You’ve Got A Friend
(Carole King)
ColGems-EMI Music, Inc. (ASCAP) [circa 1970]

Audio Restoration by Nathaniel Kunkel
Mastered by Doug Sax and Robert Hadley at The Mastering Lab, Inc., Ojai, CA
Photography by Jim McCrary courtesy of Ode Sounds and Visuals, except Getty Images (pp. 4, 5)

Creative Director: Larissa Collins
Art Direction and Design: Greg Allen for Omnivore Creative
Project Assistance by Michael Johnson, Patrick Milligan
Management: Sherry Kondor


"Can I come in at 2 o'clock and do a demo?"

Nearly half a century later, Brooks Arthur - songwriter, recording engineer and later producer of hits like Janis Ian's "At Seventeen" - still recalls Carole King's simple request to record a demo of a song she and her and husband, Gerry Goffin, had just written. At the time-the early to mid '60s - King and Goffin were staff writers at Aldon Music, the renowned song publishing company co-owned by Don Kirshner and Al Nevins. Working out of their home or in one of the cubicles at Aldon's 1650 Broadway offices, right near the famed Brill Building, the creative team would finish a song and play it for Kirshner, after which King, already a gifted singer and pianist in her late teens, would put it on tape.

"She'd walk into the studio in the afternoon and emerge an hour later with a finished product in two or three takes," Arthur recalls, still sounding amazed all these decades later. "She was always a cut above the rest." Aldon would use those demos - short for "demonstration records" - to pitch the material to other artists, from Gene Pitney and Bobby Vee to Aretha Franklin and the Monkees. Among the recordings preserved on small plastic tape reels and stored in climate-controlled rooms in Manhattan studios were future standards like "(You Make Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "Just Once in My Life."

In the years before file sharing made it easy to pass around music, those tapes were among the most coveted items in the music business. Lou Adler, who produced King's landmark Tapestry album in 1971 and ran Ode Records, gave young Randy Newman a stack of Carole King demos. "I thought that was the best education that anybody who wanted to be a songwriter could have," he said. In Laurel Canyon, the artistic Hollywood Hills hotbed of the late '60s, one fervent hoarder of the King tapes was Peter Asher, then producing and managing James Taylor. "We all knew and loved those demos,” Asher told me. "You'd hear demos like 'Natural Woman' and they were amazing. I collected them."

The thirteen tracks compiled on The Legendary Demos finally allow those who weren't in the know back then to hear what all the excitement was about. These rare recordings, none previously released, trace King's journey from her days as an Aldon staff writer, crafting hit after hit for other artists, to the dawn of her own triumphant solo career, which began with her 1970 album Writer and continues to this day. Call it what you will  - in some ways, it's her version of The Basement Tapes - but there's no denying that The Legendary Demos is the great, lost missing link in the chain of King's career.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, King ingested everything from opera to Elvis Presley's early hits during her childhood, and by her high school days had already cut singles under her own name. But her life and career changed when she met fellow Queens College student and gifted lyricist Gerry Goffin in 1958. They married the following year, by which time they'd begun collaborating on songs and pitching them to song publishers. "After dinner we wrote songs," King writes in her revealing memoir A Natural Woman. "Sometimes I took a day off to meet with publishers and record executives in the hopes of receiving one of those $25 checks. We didn't get one often, but when we did the money was as welcome as a couple of fluffy matzoh balls in a bowl of chicken soup."

The duo signed with Aldon Music in 1959, and anyone who listened to the radio during the first half of the '60s will recognize the songs of teen passion and devastating heartbreak heard in King's own versions of those songs. "Take Good Care of My Baby" was a No. 1 hit for Bobby Vee in 1961. Goffin's gift for tapping into teen anguish - in this case, hiding behind a stoic public face - was never conveyed better than in "Crying in the Rain," which the Everly Brothers took into the top 10 in early 1962. "Just Once in My Life" was the Righteous Brothers' follow-up to their still-spine-tingling "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," and King's demo reveals how she and Goffin were instantly able to tap into the duo's (and producer Phil Spector's) dramatic, impassioned sound. No wonder the Righteous' version peaked at No. 9 in 1965.

"Yours Until Tomorrow," a grand, emotional, almost desperate song from the Goffin-King songbook, is one of the true revelations of The Legendary Demos. In one of those head-scratching mysteries of pop life, the song never became a hit, even though Gene Pitney, Irma Thomas, and Cher, among others, all cut it. Thankfully, this album restores "Yours Until Tomorrow" to its rightful place among King's finest early works.

Like many of their fellow songwriters at the time, King and Goffin wrote songs for Don Kirshner's TV show about a fictional, Beatles-derived pop band that debuted in September 1966. The Monkees, as they were called, turned out to be more credible singers (and musicians) than anyone initially expected, as their high-charting 1967 version of "Pleasant Valley Sunday" revealed. By then, King, Goffin and their daughters had moved from Brooklyn to the more placid West Orange, New Jersey, which accounts for its stinging commentary on picket-fence life: "Gerry did not enjoy living in the suburbs," King writes in her book, "an opinion he vigorously documented in a song called 'Pleasant Valley Sunday.'" The Monkees also cut "So Goes Love," a dreamier ballad heard here, but the track didn't make their first album and wasn't released until long after they'd disbanded.

Whether it was a potential single for the Monkees or a solo performer like Pitney, King's demos were remarkable in their completeness. "When she sat down to the piano and played a demo of one of her songs, the whole arrangement appeared right in front of your eyes magically," recalls Arthur, who engineered a number of these efficient sessions for King at one of several midtown Manhattan studios. "She played certain chords, figures, and hooks, and she spelled out the arrangement. In 'Take Good Care of My Baby,' the piano figure in the middle was signaling to the producer, 'This is what you should do.' A lot of the smarter producers would adhere to Carole's demos. If you stuck to that, you'd come home a winner."

Generally, King would record by herself.

Sometimes, though, she'd utilize a small group of in-house studio musicians that included guitarist Al Gorgoni, guitarist and bass player Charles Macey, and drummers Gary Chester and Buddy Saltzman (known for his beats on records by the Four Seasons).

Those tracks displayed King's breadth of musical knowledge. The groove of Carole and Gerry's "Like Little Children" recalls Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour." And in case you're wondering why certain Goffin-King standards like "The Locomotion" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" aren't included here, there's a simple reason: Those demos were cut with the recording artists themselves singing lead, and in some cases, the demos became the master recordings heard on the radio.

After the breakup of their marriage in 1968, Goffin and King moved separately to California. Carole settled in Laurel Canyon with her daughters Sherry and Louise and began working as a staff songwriter at Screen Gems-Columbia Music, which had purchased Aldon Music from Kirshner and Nevins in 1965. In search of a new lyricist, King met writer and poet Toni Stern, "the quintessential California girl," as King describes Stern in her book.

The two bonded immediately and began collaborating. At King's house on Wonderland Avenue, she and Stern would gather around King's black Baldwin Acrosonic piano (in the same room later seen on the cover of Tapestry). Whereas Goffin's lyrics captured a hopeful, yearning time in King's life and American culture, Stern's lyrics, with their probing sensitivity and adult woman's take on life and love, were an ideal match for King's new, independent period in Los Angeles. King also returned to writing her own lyrics for the first time since before she'd met Goffin. She formed a band, The City, with guitarist Danny Kortchmar and bassist and future husband Charles Larkey, then with Lou Adler producing, launched a successful solo career as an artist.

The songs that emerged during this productive period would form the basis for Tapestry, one of the best-selling and most beloved albums of all time. The Legendary Demos includes early takes of six tracks included on that album, most likely recorded at Screen Gems' Hollywood headquarters - according to Stern, after most of the employees had left for the day. King and Stern's' ever-poignant "It's Too Late" is here, along with King's own "Way Over Yonder," "Beautiful" and "Tapestry," all three bursting with the artistic and spiritual renewal infusing King's life during this period.

Among The Legendary Demos is a song that would later appear on Tapestry, the very original 1967 demo of Goffin's, King's, and producer Jerry Wexler's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," which Aretha Franklin also cut in 1967. King's version offers several different takes from the Franklin and Tapestry versions. Her delivery in the opening lines is looser (check out the way she stretches out "Lord" in "Lord, it made me feel so tired"), and the bridge is even more imbued with palpable romantic and sexual heat.

And finally, there's King's initial take on "You've Got A Friend," a classic entry in the Great American Rock Songbook. Her friend James Taylor had first heard the song when the two were playing L.A.'s Troubadour club in late 1970 (at the time, the stage-shy King was playing piano in Taylor's band, having accompanied him on his own landmark Sweet Baby James). Milling around in the balcony of the club during soundcheck, Taylor heard King perform the song on a bare stage and was immediately taken with it; his own version, a massive hit, would arrive the following year.

As with her New York demos, King's preliminary takes on her new, California-rooted material paved the way for her own album to come, recorded in early 1971. "Carole's demos led me to the sound on Tapestry," recalled Adler. "Her piano out front, and the bass drums, maybe a guitar, but she initiates all the parts. Within her piano you could hear a string part, or hear another background part, and she did the background parts."

King wrote and recorded many other modern standards and released a series of hit albums after Tapestry. Within its newly unearthed grooves, The Legendary Demos tells the story of what led to that breakthrough - one woman's journey from discovering young love and starting a family to facing life's unexpected challenges and emerging with one's own identity. Even though King's story on The Legendary Demos is framed by the beginning and end of the iconic '60s, it's a tale that speaks to every generation - and has rarely been told so touchingly and tunefully in song.

David Browne, contributing editor, Rolling Stone, and author, Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970 (Da Capo)



Back to Carole King's main page

(P) & © 2012 Rockingale Records. Under exclusive license to StarCon, LLC. 100 N. Crescent Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. Printed in the U.S.A. HRM-33681-02

Website Builder