Not a Christmas Carole, but …

“Some kind of wonderful” was the headline in the Chicago Tribune entertainment section one day during Thanksgiving Weekend. I didn’t read the headline, I sang it. In my head, that is. Funny how everything I sing in my head is in perfect pitch. Not so when I try to make it come out of my mouth. But that’s another story.
The headline was over an article about the premier of the musical “Beautiful” in Chicago the following Tuesday. We were in town to celebrate Thanksgiving with my son and daughter-in-law but had to return home on Sunday. Had we not, I would have gone searching for tickets.
“Beautiful” is based on the music of Carole King.
Many of you know her, but even if you do, you sort of don’t. She, and her one-time husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin wrote a string of hits that will leave you speechless. They include:
“Up on the Roof,” recorded by The Drifters
“One Fine Day,” recorded by The Chiffons
“I’m into Something Good,” recorded by Herman’s Hermits
“Take Good Care of My Baby,” recorded by Bobby Vee
“Chains,” recorded by The Cookies, later by The Beatles
“Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad about My Baby,” also recorded by The Cookies
“Don’t Bring Me Down,” recorded by The Animals
“You’ve Got a Friend,” recorded by James Taylor
“Pleasant Valley Sunday,” recorded by The Monkees
“Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” recorded by The Shirelles
“You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” recorded by Aretha Franklin
“The Loco-Motion,” recorded by Little Eva
And of course, “Some Kind of Wonderful,” recorded by The Drifters
Long ago I heard a story about the song “The Loco-Motion,” which was a hit and became a bit of a dance craze in 1962 when I was in junior high. Before she was known as “Little Eva,” Eva was a housekeeper for Carole King and Gerry Goffin. One day, they said to each other “let’s write her a song.” So they did.
I love that.
While Aretha made “Natural Woman” famous, Carole King recorded it herself for her solo album “Tapestry” which came out in 1971 and which I played (8-track version) continuously until it died throughout 1972. So did most everyone else I knew.
“Tapestry” was named Album of the Year in 1972. “It’s Too Late Baby,” was released as a single and was named Record of the Year. “You’ve Got a Friend” was named Song of the Year.
Perhaps my favorite on the album, though, is “So Far Away.”
So far away. Doesn’t anybody stay in one place any more? It would be so nice to see your face at my door.
I often think of those lyrics when I think of my kids, one in Chicago and the other in L.A.
“Beautiful” the musical has been around for a while. It opened in 2013 in San Francisco and made its Broadway debut in January of 2014. It opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on W. 43rd Street last February and is still running.
A U.S. tour launched in September, hence the Chicago opening. It is scheduled for Philadelphia in March and April.
One of my New Year’s resolutions will be to see this show. If not in New York, then surely Philly.

Ed Ackerman