Carole King's 10 greatest ever songs, ranked

31 January 2024, 16:10

Carole King in 2013
Carole King in 2013. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Carole King is truly one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time.

Not only has she written many of pop's biggest hits from the 1950s onwards, but she has also recorded an incredible collection of solo material over the years.

To kickstart your perfect Carole King playlist, here are just a handful of her very best:

  1. 'Where You Lead'

    Carole King - Where You Lead, I Will Follow (from Welcome To My Living Room)

    Taken from... you guessed it, Tapestry, this was also a top 40 hit for Barbra Streisand in 1971.

    It was later used as the theme tune for the 2000s comedy-drama TV series Gilmore Girls, performed by King and her daughter Louise Goffin.

  2. 'I Feel the Earth Move'

    CAROLE KING - I Feel The Earth Move (Live)

    Another classic from Tapestry, this song gave King a US number one hit in 1971.

    Critic Stewart Mason described the song as "the ultimate in hippie-chick eroticism" and that it "sounds like the unleashing of an entire generation of soft-spoken college girls' collective libidos".

  3. 'It Might As Well Rain Until September'

    It Might As Well Rain Until September CAROLE KING

    Carole King and former husband Gerry Goffin wrote this song back in 1962 for Bobby Vee, but a demo version recorded by Carole herself gave her an early hit in the same year.

    The recording was only ever meant to be a demo, which is why all digital releases are of inferior quality compared to other songs of the era.

    However, producer Don Kirshner liked King's version so much that even after hearing Vee's version, he decided to release her version as a single.

  4. 'Nightingale'

    Carole King - Nightingale (Official Audio)

    Carole brought in her young daughters Louise and Sherry Goffin as backing singers for this track.

    It was released as a single from her brilliant Wrap Around Joy album in 1974.

  5. 'Beautiful'

    Carole King - Beautiful (from Welcome To My Living Room)

    Yet another song from Tapestry (wow, that album really was amazing!), this track came from her realisation while riding the New York City Subway that the way she perceived others reflected how she herself felt.

    It was later used as the title for the stage musical about her life and career, which opened to great success in 2014.

  6. 'So Far Away'

    Carole King - So Far Away (BBC In Concert, February 10, 1971)

    This ballad about longing for a lover who is far away featured friend James Taylor on acoustic guitar.

    It was later covered by Rod Stewart on the album Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King.

  7. 'Jazzman'

    Jazzman - Carole King (81.121.01)

    Taken from King's 1974 album Wrap Around Joy, it was co-written with Steely Dan member David Palmer.

    The song is best known for its saxophone solos, performed by Tom Scott. The 'jazzman' in the song is actually about Curtis Amy, the former musical director for the Ray Charles band.

  8. 'You've Got a Friend'

    Carole King - You've Got a Friend (from Welcome To My Living Room)

    Carole King first recorded this ballad on her iconic album Tapestry in 1971. James Taylor, who provided backing on the song, recorded his own version the same year and scored an even bigger hit with it.

    King has said that "the song was as close to pure inspiration as I've ever experienced. The song wrote itself. It was written by something outside myself, through me."

    Taylor later said that King told him that the song was a response to a line in his song 'Fire and Rain': "I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend."

  9. '(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman'

    Carole King - (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman (Live from Oakland - 1972)

    King and Goffin wrote this for Aretha Franklin in 1967, and it became one of the Queen of Soul's signature songs.

    Four years later, King included her own version on the Tapestry album, giving the track another dimension while still retaining the beauty of Aretha's original.

  10. 'It's Too Late'

    Carole King - It's Too Late (In Concert - 1971)

    A song about the end of a loving relationship without assigning blame, critics have noted its implicit feminism for the time in which the woman had left the man.

    Taken from Carole King’s huge album Tapestry, the song was rumoured to be about her friend and collaborator James Taylor, but King never confirmed the rumours.