While I was coming up with a theme for the next series on Two for Tuesday, I thought about the Battle of the Bands, and found that frequently the songs featured there are written by a famous team of songwriters, like Gerry Goffin and Carole King, or Burt Bacharach and Hal David. So I started a list, and came up with quite a few songwriting teams. Sometimes the team writes exclusively for one group or singer, but many teams write for any number of artists. So, we’re going to shift our focus here on Two for Tuesday away from the performers to the songwriting teams.
First up this week is the husband-and-wife team (well, they were, anyway) of Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Gerry was the lyricist, Carole the composer and also a performer of some note. They were married from 1959 to 1969, and together wrote over a hundred chart-topping songs in the US and the UK. They’re members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, she’s a member of the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. John Lennon and Paul McCartney once said they wanted to be able to write songs like them. I could go on, but I won’t, instead sharing a couple of the songs they wrote together. You can find a list with most of them on Wikipedia.
First is “Chains,” which was a hit for The Cookies in 1962 (#17 US, #50 UK) and covered by The Beatles for their album Please Please Me, also known as Introducing… The Beatles! in the US. Here is The Cookies’ original.
Goffin and King’s first #1 song was The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” It became the first #1 hit for a black female group, and went to #4 in the UK. Its been covered by lots of artists, including The Four Seasons, Cher, Tony Orlando, and Ms. King herself, on her 1971 Tapestry album (which set the record for most weeks at #1 by a female artist, broken finally by Whitney Houston’s soundtrack for The Bodyguard). Here is the original.
Since their divorce in 1968, Carole has continued her success as both a singer and songwriter (and a pianist of some note), sometimes collaborating with Toni Stern. Goffin worked with Barry Mann, Barry Goldberg, and others until his death in 2014. Carole King said of her ex-husband and songwriting partner that he had a “profound impact” on her life and he was her “first love.” She also said, “His words expressed what so many people were feeling but didn’t know how to say… Gerry was a good man and a dynamic force, whose words and creative influence will resonate for generations to come.”
Gerry Goffin and Carole King, your Two for Tuesday, August 4, 2015.