A day late to mark the 78th (!) birthday of the most successful US female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century: 500 songs recorded by more than 1,000 artists, 118 pop hits on the Billboard 100, four Grammys, the first women to receive the Gershwin Prize.
Born in Manhattan, raised in Brooklyn, in high school she adopted King as her stage name and Neil Simon and Paul Sedaka hung out with her. At Queens College she ended up pregnant and with a quickie marriage at 17. They dropped out and flourished as a songwriting duo (hello Natural Woman + Aretha) but she was not so much in line with the NJ suburban housewives.
Divorce, Los Angeles, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, playing keyboard for BB King and then Tapestry followed in 1971: 15 weeks at number one, remaining on the charts for six years. It was released 49 years ago today! Then there’s the Broadway show and decades of environmental activism.
My favorite collaboration will always be hers and James Taylor. You’ve Got A Friend, Fire and Rain, Sweet Baby James, Up on the Roof? Impeccable. All of it.