Song of the Day #1,432: ‘It’s Too Late’ – Carole King

Best Albums of the 70s – #3
Tapestry – Carole King (1971)

Carole King released 10 albums in the 70s, and I couldn’t name a single song from nine of them if you put a gun to my head. Nor could I name a single song on the five albums of original material she’s recorded in the 30+ years since.

But Tapestry, her second solo record — that one I can recite by heart. As can the millions of people who have made it one of the best-selling records of all time.

King was no stranger to hit-making before Tapestry, having written several popular songs for others with her writing (and life) partner Gerry Goffin. As the story goes, King was encouraged by friends (including James Taylor) to record her own songs for a change.

So she picked the 12 best songs she’d ever written, or ever would write, and laid them down with understated soft-rock production complementing her delightfully imperfect voice. The result was one of the most artistically and commercially successful albums ever recorded, all the more impressive because it stands out as the only real solo triumph of her career.

To be fair, her next six albums reached Gold status (with one going Platinum) but those feel like mere aftershocks from Tapestry. Can you imagine even a die-hard fan recommending any King album above this one?

‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’ and ‘(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman’ were both hits for others before showing up on Tapestry, but every other song on the album completely belongs to that voice that almost remained behind the curtain.

Stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time
There’s something wrong here
There can be no denying
One of us is changing
Or maybe we’ve just stopped trying

And it’s too late baby, now it’s too late
Though we really did try to make it
Something inside has died and I can’t hide
And I just can’t fake it

It used to be so easy living here with you
You were light and breezy
And I knew just what to do
Now you look so unhappy
And I feel like a fool

And it’s too late baby, now it’s too late
Though we really did try to make it
Something inside has died
and I can’t hide it
And I just can’t fake it

There’ll be good times again for me and you
But we just can’t stay together
Don’t you feel it too
Still I’m glad for what we had
And how I once loved you

But it’s too late baby, now it’s too late
Though we really did try to make it
Something inside has died and I can’t hide
And I just can’t fake it

Don’t you know that I…
I just can’t fake it
Oh it’s too late my baby
Too late my baby
You know
It’s too late my baby

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,432: ‘It’s Too Late’ – Carole King

  1. Dana says:

    While I wouldn’t personally rank this above The Stranger, it would certainly be high on my list for all of the reasons you mentioned.

  2. pegclifton says:

    This is like a trip down memory lane; I wore this album or maybe reel to reel (I am old) out. I’m sorry I missed her when she came to Tanglewood with James Taylor a couple of years ago.

  3. andrea katz says:

    “Still I’m glad for what we had
    And how I once loved you”…
    Quite poignant for me all these years later. If Dana was playing Billy Joel I was trying to hammer out Carol K
    ing songs from Tapestry in that same 1972 yellow living room. Really enjoying this series, Clay. Thanks.

  4. Amy says:

    This album would likely sit at the very top of my 70’s list for all of the reasons you mention. While I did actually buy a couple of those other albums you named, just now I had to consult Wikepedia to “remember” that “Now and Forever” was the name of the theme song from A League of Their Own that I particularly liked from her post-Tapestry output.

    A few years ago, Dana and I took the kids to see King and Taylor in their Troubadour tour. I don’t know what was more wonderful – hearing these great, lifelong friends singing together and sharing stories (such as how Taylor encouraged King to step out from behind the piano and sing some of her own songs – at the Troubadour – all those years ago) – or watching Hillary Clinton, who was just a few rows below us, right next to the stage, totally geeking out watching what were clearly two of her favorite performers.

    I know you’re no fan of Joni Mitchell, but surely her recording of “Chelsea Morning,” released on Clouds (albeit in 1969 😉 or any of her other great 70’s albums (Andie?!) deserves a mention (though, I understand, not a spot on your list). Regardless, watching our secretary of state immersed in the music she loved so, while Dana and I enjoyed it because of our introduction from our parents and older sister, and now our kids were enjoying it because of their introduction from their parents…. well, the whole thing was just fabulous!

    So, yes, this album deserves every kind word that is ever said about it. It’s just perfect in every way.

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