Carole King’s Tapestry feels like a comfort blanket, until you hear the anxiety within it

Carole King performs Tapestry in full on stage for the first time this weekend. What is it about this 45-year old album that inspires such devotion?

Carole King … and her cat Telemachus, from the cover of Tapestry. Photograph: Jim McCrary/Redferns

There she is, a picture of domestic bliss, a cat curled up beside her, relaxed in a baggy jumper, her hair uncombed – free at last. Tapestry looks like an album of restfulness and contentment. On the reverse side of the cover are the song titles and lyrics, printed on a muted brown that looks like parchment. This is a statement of permanence, significance and independence – the majority of the songs were written in their entirety by Carole King, whose name had been tied together with her ex-husband Gerry Goffin on pretty much every song she had written for the last dozen years. Now here’s Carole singing: “You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face … you’re gonna find, yes you will, that you’re beautiful.”

Carole King performs It’s Too Late on the BBC, 1971

Tapestry looked like a self-help manual for 60s burnouts, the survivors of the1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, the disillusioned kids who had visited Haight-Ashbury and found nothing but teenage wasteland. Trust Carole, the sleeve said; you’ve got a friend. You too could live in this amber dusk, jeans on, a cat at your feet. She’s still your friend: in the past few years, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical has become a huge West End hit, and on Sunday she playsTapestry in concert, in full, for the first time – in front of a crowd of tens of thousands who’ve paid up to £249 to hear the songs of 1971 revisited.

Carole King, photographed by Jim McCrary in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles. Photograph: Jim McCrary/Redferns

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