The transformative experience of music – Carole King style
Most of us have had some form of transformative experience throughout our lives, many no doubt through music and the emotions it can evoke.
Music has a way of enveloping our souls. It becomes a soundtrack to a particular period of joy or heartache, and forever fills our hearts and minds with more than just lyrics and a tune. It holds our hand as we walk through troubled times, lifts our spirits, shares our pleasures and so often becomes the only teacher we know and trust.
For many people, especially women, the music of Carole King is one such soundtrack, best friend, wise sage and absent lover. Her soulful ballads, mirrored by her own sometimes chaotic journey through life, have mended many hearts, filled countless souls with hope and been the shoulder to cry on when times have been tough. I was reminded of the power that is Carole King when I went to see the musical in her honour – Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. I didn’t think that Carole had been so much a part of my growing up years, until I sat there and heard those melodies, which brought back so many forgotten memories.
For an entire generation, Carole King is not just an extraordinary musical talent. She embodies a strength of character that many of us envy and that enabled her to become a song-writing and singing sensation at a time when women were more often found at home in the kitchen, with babes in arms. With an unwavering self-belief and determination to live her dream, Carole defied the odds to become a successful music legend during the late 1960s and early 1970s, firstly in partnership with her husband, Gerry Goffin, then, with the break-up of her marriage, as a solo artist. Brought up by a single mother in New York, who had plans for her daughter to be a music teacher, not a singer-songwriter, Carole used her grit and talent to beat the odds.
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical which has been playing to packed houses around the world since 2013, charts the early life and times of this musical sensation.
You will recognise not only the songs Carole has performed over the years, such as “It Might As Well Rain Until September”, “Natural Woman” which was immortalized by Aretha Franklin, and “You’ve Got a Friend”, first performed by James Taylor, but also those she wrote for others. These have included the first hit she wrote at the tender of age of 17, “Will you Love me Tomorrow’, made famous by the Shirelles. You will also no doubt be miming the words to oh-so familiar hits such as “Take Good Care Of My Baby” (performed by Bobby Vee in 1961), “The Loco-Motion” (first sung by Little Eva in 1962), “Up On The Roof” (by The Drifters in 1962), “Chains” (performed by The Cookies in 1962 then The Beatles in 1963), “One Fine Day” (made famous by The Chiffons in 1963), and “Don’t Bring Me Down” (by The Animals in 1966).
Carole’s 1971 solo album, Tapestry, took her to the pinnacle and immortalised her as the voice of a generation.
I had the privilege of attending the Melbourne production of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, with Esther Hannaford in the starring role. Esther plays Carole with aplomb – her voice is incredible, and her ability to render the pathos and energy of the young and ambitious songstress is palpable.
Much to my surprise, I shed tears of joy and heartbreak as Carole’s life and the soundtrack of her struggles and successes unfolded before me. Such is the power of allowing yourself to be immersed in the emotional wonder of music and lyrics, which take you back to memories you had long decided were not worth remembering, or had forgotten ever took place. Even if this is not your era, you will love this musical for its story of human strength overcoming adversity and for the transformative experience of music, especially that of Carole King, brings to the world!
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