Sunday, 5 July 2009

Up on the roof

James Taylor may have a better voice—and his version is certainly better-known—but I have always loved Carole King's interpretation of the song Up on the roof, which she wrote with Gerry Goffin in the early sixties. It's the last track on her rather good, but commercially unsuccessful 1970 album Writer ... soon to be followed by Tapestry, the very definition of commercial success. According to Wikipedia, it remained the top-selling pop solo album until the late Michael Jackson's Thriller.

And so to the song. In this YouTube clip of her performing it in concert (in the late eighties?) the treatment is close to that in Writer: unashamedly romantic, but fresh, and making excellent use of King's big-boned voice—even exploiting the limitations of her range. Apart from the sheer joy of it, it's a good advertisement for the singer-songwriter ideal: that a great writer, even if she's a singer of second rank, might bring something special to her own songs. And since her version of this song is free of the Tapestry hype, I think it makes the point more clearly than the album does.

Update: The 1970 recorded version is also on YouTube here.

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