Perone Answers Question ?Why Tapestry??

May 10, 2010

Dr. James Perone, professor of music, presented "Why Tapestry? Carole King's Album and the Women's Movement" on Thursday, March 23 at Mount Union.

 

This convocation was one of many events in celebration of National Women's History Month events at the College.

The talk focused on King's work as a songwriter within the context of the Women's Movement. In her pre-tapestry career, Carole King collaborated with musical greats Paul Simon and Gerry Goffin, whom she later married. Together, throughout the 50s and 60s, the pair created memorable hits such as 'will you love me tomorrow?' and 'the loco-motion.'

Perone described King and Goffin's music as 'mostly meant for girl groups.' However he said that many of the songs lacked a gender stereotype and could be easily transferred to male performers. Their songs therefore represented a very broad range of performers, from Eva to the Monkees.

King released singles throughout the 60s, but Perone said 'the voice and material were mismatched; it wasn't what was expected of female pop singers.' At this point in time Carole King was more of a studio performer and was 'still not reaching her full potential,' Perone said.

During this time of conflict in King's life, the Women's Movement was also an emerging force in the United States. Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique was released and set the stage for this modern movement. New magazines such as Ms. And Essence were trying to liberate women from the thought of living through their husbands and children.

In 1971, at the peak of this movement, Carole King released a loose collection of songs on the album 'Tapestry.' The question answered by the convocation was 'Why Tapestry?' What made it so successful, especially during the Women's Movement?

'Factors such as the packaging, production, arrangements and lyrics made the album the hit it became,' Perone said.

The cover of Tapestry showed Carole King in her home, barefoot and with her cat. Perone said, 'This artwork portrayed her as her natural self whereas other album covers did not.'

Another highlight of the album was the emphasis on King's voice and instrumental abilities. Many of the tracks started solely with the piano, an obvious talent of King's.

'King was the first women in the rock era to emerge as an instrumentalist with an identifiable style,' Perone said.

The other factors that influenced the success of the album were the arrangement of the music and the lyrics chosen.

'The arrangement reflected true singer-songwriter style of the period,' Perone said.

'As for the lyrics, they were empowering,' said Perone. 'There was a new emphasis on inner rather than outer beauty.'

This focus was consistent throughout the album and it's theme of tapestry. Tapestry is an interwoven design of many separate parts, but when put together, they work as a whole. Just like the disconnected songs for her album, King made them work together as a finished product.

Although King didn't get off the ground very well early in her career, 'Tapestry' skyrocketed and was number one on Billboard Charts for 15 weeks. Many Grammy Awards later, the album is still going strong with 20 million copies sold since its release.

'The big point to remember is that this album was so successful because of the packaging and lyrics, but most importantly because of the impact it had on people's lives,' Perone said.

'King was a real person and was in touch with the aesthetics of the period. She was in the right place, at the right time doing the right thing,' concluded Perone.

Dr. James Perone earned a bachelor of music degree in music education from Capital University in 1980. He pursued graduate studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he earned a master of fine arts degree in clarinet performance in 1982, a master of arts degree in music theory in 1984 and a doctoral degree in music theory in 1988. Perone was also active in chamber music throughout western New York before taking his position at Mount Union College.

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