a nat­u­ral woman: a Mem­oir

Ca­role King Grand Cen­tral Pub­lish­ing

NZ Today - - ON BOOKS -

I loved this book. It's hon­est and thought­ful and King has had an in­ter­est­ing life; she's can­did about failed mar­riages and the dam­age that was done – from one mar­riage in par­tic­u­lar. She clearly loves mu­sic – might seem an ob­vi­ous thing to say, but she gushes like a fan in her de­scrip­tion of meet­ing Paul Mc­Cart­ney back­stage af­ter at­tend­ing his con­cert in the early 1990s.

She also has a great sense of his­tory – hav­ing lived through a lot of pop-mu­sic his­tory and of course cre­at­ing some of it.

Then there's the songs. She knows her way to the heart of a song. And A Nat­u­ral Woman tells the story be­hind the writ­ing of so many pop hits – of­ten mun­dane, it was work; or – re­mark­ably – her and then-hus­band Gerry Gof­fin would work at home at night while rais­ing chil­dren. They would write the songs from the 1960s we still sing to­day. Then there's Ta­pes­try. A mon­u­men­tal al­bum. Af­ter the early 1970s the book be­comes less in­ter­est­ing – in terms of the mu­sic cov­ered, be­cause, there's no easy way to say this, King's mu­sic be­came (for the most part) less in­ter­est­ing.

But she knows that. She knows the early magic is what made her. And that she made it. And was so lucky and blessed. She also puts across a great work ethic. She wanted it. And that's a big part of why she got it. That and her ear for a melody; her sixth-sense for a hook.

And so when it be­comes more about the abu­sive hus­band that stayed too long, that had King feel­ing trapped, well of course it is still a thought­ful and in­spir­ing tale. And King is funny, self-ef­fac­ing, re­laxed in her tone – charm­ing. So it is still a worth­while read.

Oh but the first half of the book – just like the first half of her ca­reer: magic.

And we get some great segues – mu­sic and his­tory, civil rights, the fall of na­tions, the death of John Len­non and other name mu­si­cians; King was there. She took it in.

This is a lovely mem­oir. Might seem a silly/ soppy/funny word for it: lovely. But that's what I thought – fre­quently – while read­ing this. Thor­oughly worth­while.

Si­mon Sweet­man

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