Random Interlude on Women in Rock Music History

For my book writing course, I am reading and really enjoying Girls Like Us, Sheila Weller's joint biography of Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Carly Simon. It's a page-turning, deeply-reported account of how female musicians in the sixties and seventies exploded popular notions of what was appropriate for women to write and sing and speak publicly about. There was Joni Mitchell's "Little Green," a love song to the daughter she had out of wedlock and gave up for adoption; Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," an unmarried girl's cautiously hopeful–and wonderfully frank–ballad about entering into a sexual relationship; and Carly Simon singing "Nobody Does It Better," which Radiohead's Thom Yorke (decades later) called "the sexiest song ever written." (Watch this very 1980s Carly performance. He was sorta right.)

All three women experienced more than their fair share of heartbreak, but I was particularly moved by the story of Carole King's difficult early twenties. Her first husband and songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin, was not only a manic-depressive addict, but had an open affair–and a child–with Jeanie Reavis (stage name: Earl-Jean), a pop/soul singer with a gorgeous, smooth voice. It was Carole and Gerry who co-wrote Earl-Jean's classic hit, the love song "I'm Into Something Good." 

 

Carole found out about the affair and the baby, but didn't immediately leave Gerry. In fact, Goffin and King–by then hugely successful songwriters–bought a house in their white, suburban New Jersey neighborhood for Reavis to live in with her husband, their kids, and the new baby girl. 

Both marriages (surprise, surprise) eventually disolved, and Carole moved to Los Angeles, where she launched her massive solo folk-rock career. And I maintain that her own performances of her songs are the classic ones–they are just so deeply felt. Here is one of my all time favorite love songs. 

 

2 thoughts on “Random Interlude on Women in Rock Music History

  1. JBF

    King’s album Tapestry is one of my all time favorites, but I never knew the back story. Pretty incredible what she was able to accomplish.

    Reply
  2. lng

    it’s sort of cool when your adult daughter discovers and enjoys the same music you enjoyed when you were even younger than she is now! but i’m almost finished reading the Keith Richards book, and i have to say, there seems to be an enormous divide between the girl rockers and the boy rockers of the 60s and 70s… the ethos is just so so different. one has to wonder how much someone like richards who was so drugged out for so many years can really remember… and how much of this book is his voice vs his co-author’s voice. we’ll never know.

    Reply

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