Carole King – it just doesn’t get any better than this. Songwriter, performer, arranger, Grammy winner – what more could you want? “It’s Too Late” is a song from her 1971 album Tapestry. The lyrics describe a love relationship ending without assigning blame. That, in itself, is quite remarkable. We’ve all had affairs that ended without any reason – just didn’t work out. But not many songs are written with that idea in mind. Ya gotta blame somebody for the breakup – even if it’s yourself (the ol’ “it’s not you, it’s me” syndrome).
Now I’m gonna bring in a name you probably don’t know – Ms. Toni Stern. Today she’s a successful poet and writer, but back in the 70’s, she wrote the lyrics to many of Carole King’s songs. “It’s Too Late” was written about the breakup between Toni and James Taylor. Carole King was playing piano in Taylor’s band at the time, but they weren’t an item… yet. Toni wrote the lyrics in a single day and Carole put them to music. That’s Carole on the left and Toni on the right in the above photos. They look remarkably alike, don’t you think?
The song was written in the key of D minor. The sadness of the song is emphasized by the minor key, according to Wikipedia. Personally, I always enjoy playing in minors – brings drama to the music – and we all need a little drama in our lives (some more than others). But the lyrics are eternally sad and bittersweet: “Now you look so unhappy and I feel like a fool”. Powerful stuff, there.
I was talking to a young singer the other day who had never heard of Carole King, let alone this song. Even though the song is from 1971, when she heard it, she loved it! This backup sequence will help her reintroduce this song to the “millennials”. I’ll guarantee ya, nobody will be singing “Nuthin but a ‘G’ Thang” 45 years from now. Sickening.