Chapter Overture (Preview of Upcoming Chapters)
Page 4 - Plaintive Doo-Wop
In the spring of 1956, Carole King's parents had recently divorced - a virtual first in the neighborhood. Carole alone would change her name (from Klein to King), just as Carole alone was allowed to attend those magical Alan Freed shows (Camille's parents disapproved of "that jungle music"), often making the pilgrimage to the Paramount both weekend nights to soak up the plaintive doo-wop of The Platters, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, The Cleftones and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Page 6 - Female singers' influences in 1956
This was 1956. Mr. and Mrs. Ricky Ricardo had separate beds on I Love Lucy. Dissemination of information about birth control to married women was a crime in some states. Every word of Seventeen magazine was vetted by a pastor. In garment factories, union inspectors checked skirt lengths before job lots were shipped to department stores. Elvis may have been singing, Jack Kerouac writing, and James Dean's movies still being shown even after his fatal car accident, but there were few female analogues. Doris Day pluckily kept wolves at bay; the Chordettes crooned like estrogened Perry Comos.
The song clip of Doris Day's - Que Sera Sera which went to # 2 on the Billboard charts in 1956 ( The song was introduced in Alfred Hitchcock's film The Man Who Knew Too Much. Doris Day and James Stewart starred in the movie).
The song clip of the Chordettes Born To Be With You went to # 5 on the Billboard charts in 1956.
Page 10 - Joni Mitchell's favorite song in high school
Joni had loved pop music before it had gotten so bubblegum. One of her favorite songs from high school - indeed, for decades to come, (she would call it her favorite song of all time) was the Shirelles hit of four years before, Will You Love Me Tomorrow. It was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, a married couple who were among a group of barely-out-of-their-teens New York songwriters who mixed a deep infatuation with Negro church music and R&B with a Broadway songwriting style, and turned the results into Top 40 radio.
Will You Love Me Tomorrowhad been the first pop song to address the risks of sex in a woman's life - which was now, as she stood in the wings of the Half Beat, precisely Joni Anderson's dilemma. She was dealing with her pregnancy in a brand-new way: unmarried and alone.
According to the Shirelle's Wikipedia site - they were the first American girl group to have a number # 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 - the year was 1961.
Page 12 - Joni Anderson performs at the Half Beat in 1964
"The first song I'd like to do is a song about when a man becomes so involved in almighty liquour that he begins to think of it as a woman," she said, with a smile in her voice. "And he calls his bottle "Nancy Whiskey." Her real name was Roberta Joan Anderson, and her family hailed most recently from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She had come to Toronto several months earlier, taking the train across the prairie with her art school boyfriend. Then he'd split, leaving her a painting of a moon as a goodbye-and-sorry-I-got-you-pregnant gift.
"In 1961 a man named Ewan MacColl wrote a song and entered it into a contest in England. It wasn't much of a surprise to anybody when it won." What's significant is that she would choose - of all songs, this violent faux-Child Ballad about the anticipation, birth, and loss of a baby. "It has very, very dramatic lyrics," she warned as she began singing the song.
Note: I couldn't find any recordings of Joni singing these songs on later albums, but found some other artists from that period in time.
Page 17 - Carly Simon promotes her first single
April 6, 1971 - When Steve Harris knocked on the door of Carly Simon's room, he wasn't surprised at the fear he saw in her face. Harris, an A&R man at Elektra Records, had spent two months cajoling Carly, an unknown who had extreme stage fright, into consenting to a live concert, so necessary to promote the single, That's The Way I Always Heard Is Should Be, from her debut self-titled album. The record had sold only 2,000 copies, but it had ignited water-cooler talk among the special group of record company secretaries and receptionists that Elektra president Jac Holzman had sent it to: word-of-mouth had started, and Holzman was determined to maximize it.
NOTE: The video below is not from the Troubador, but it's in the same time frame.
Page 20 - Joni sings like a jazz instrument
Carole King and Joni Mitchell were in many ways opposites. Carole was Every-woman; Joni, the Bohemian. Carole's songs celebrated easy-to-grasp feelings in an optimistic spirit by way of clear, infectiously rhythmic expression. Joni's songs described complex needs and emotional states; they did not skirt pessimism; and - like the astonishingly original Laura Nyro, the only other female singer-songwriter Joni respected - she had began to use her voice like a jazz instrument, with abrupt shifts of tempo, octave, mood and volume.
"A mystic once said, 'You have two eyes; one says yes to the world, the other says no. You need to see with both of them.' Carly sees more with the eye that says yes, and that makes her so vulnerable. She belongs in another century, the era of grand feelings and penned love letters. Carly would be perfect in a Tolstoy novel."
Stuck in New York (eight months pregnant) on the night of Carly's Troubadour opening, Ellen mentally replayed a defining moment from their teen years. "Carly's sitting on the school steps with her guitar, playing When I Fall In Love, and she's singing the "....it will be for-ev-er...." with such passion." Neither Carly nor Ellen could know that, through an introduction tonight, the prophecy of that lyric - the inability to stop loving someone even after one can and wants to - would be set in motion in Carly Simon's life.
Everyone thought that Joni and James had split up. But here they were, gliding into the Troubadour together. After the show, James was invited to come up and say hello to Carly. When Steve left the room, Carly was seated on the couch; James, at her feet on the floor with his legs crossed. "They were deep in conversation," Steve recalls. "I could see the intensity between them."