Left of the Dial Recommends: The City

Rick McNulty hosts Left of the Dial Friday nights, 7-11 pm.

Wait, Carole King was in a California folk rock band? In 1968?

At the age of 26, King had already written scores of classic pop songs in New York with her husband Gerry Goffin, but as their marriage fell apart she opted for a fresh start in the hills of Laurel Canyon, near the Hollywood folk rock hippies. The environment suited her writing style, and at the behest of her old New York pals Danny Kortchmar and Charles Larkey, they formed a band called The City as a vehicle to release her songs.

The three produced a solid album, Now That Everything’s Been Said (re-issued by Light in the Attic), full of Carole’s wistful voice and melancholic minor keys. It’s the contemplative sound of Laurel Canyon or what could have been the soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides. Kortchmar and Larkey are the perfect foils for King’s talents – listening to it now, it seems odd that they abandoned the idea of The City almost as quickly as they invented it.

The album was orphaned by a record label and abetted by King’s stage fright, flopping on arrival and remaining out of print for decades. Yet the record is interesting not because it’s a lost classic, but rather because it’s a missing link. This is the snapshot where you see Carole King go from a successful writer of songs to a brilliant SINGER-songwriter. This is where she made the change in direction that in a few years would lead her to Tapestry, the album that became incredibly influential and sold a bazillion copies.

My favorite tracks:

  • Snow Queen
  • Paradise Alley
  • Why Are You Leaving
  • That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho)
  • All My Time


Listen to a couple of songs below…

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