Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Carole King - A Documentary

On introducing a friend to the story of Carole King, the American singer, songwriter who wrote more than two dozen chart hits for numerous artists during the 1960s, I came across an interesting documentary that has been released in March this year at The Sundance Film Festival; a feature-length documentary film, Troubadours - Carole King – James Taylor - The Rise of the Singer-Songwriter , directed by multiple-Grammy nominee Morgan Neville and produced by the Oscar-nominated Eddie Schmidt.

Troubadours is an account of the genesis and blossoming of the 1970s singer-songwriter movement, centering on the historic collaboration between James Taylor and Carole King and the Troubadour, the famed West Hollywood venue that nurtured the community of gifted young artists and soon-to-be critical and commercial sensations. A ten track bonus audio disc of choice 70’s-era classics such as Carole King’s “It’s Too Late”, James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James," Elton John’s “Take Me To The Pilot”, Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Has No Pride”, Linda Ronstadt’s “Desperado," Warren Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”, Tom Wait’s “Ol’ ‘55” and Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” among others.

The narrative begins in the’60s, with Carole King and Gerry Goffin writing their now-iconic songs in Manhattan’s 1650 Broadway hit factory, then shifts westward to L.A.’s Laurel Canyon, the breeding ground for the burgeoning singer-songwriter community,where the King/Taylor partnership begins to blossom and a close-knit crew of future legends— including Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, Eagles and Elton John—performs on the small stage and holds court in the Troubadour bar, the epicenter of the action. The story is told through archival footage, much of it never before seen, intercut with the vivid recollections and incisive reflections of a wide-ranging cast of characters

Touching on the scene’s birth, King says early in the film, “When we sprang out of the box there was just all this generational turbulence, cultural turbulence, and there was a hunger for the intimacy, the personal thing that we did”. Neville’s film beautifully captures the vital early days, the poignant homecoming and the subsequent “Troubadour Reunion” world tour, forming a comprehensive and unforgettable portrait of L.A.’s singer-songwriter golden age.

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