(Soundbite of applause; music)
Ms. CAROLE KING (Singer-Songwriter): (Singing) Welcome to my living room. It's not a womb, it's not a tomb, not a June bride over December groom.
SCOTT SIMON, host:
Carole King is about to embark on a living room tour. Ms. King intends to try to make large concert venues like Radio City Music Hall, Cape Cod's Melody Tent, the Coliseum at Caesar's Palace and the Santa Barbara Bowl all seem like small intimate spaces to sing the songs that have made her and so many others famous. At times, it seems that Carole King has written and/or recorded every other popular song since the early 1960s: "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," "So Far Away," "It's too Late, Baby," "Loco-Motion," "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman."
(Soundbite of music)
Ms. KING: (Singing) I'm gonna play some songs for you. There are so many I'd like to do. If I don't get to them all, I hope you'll forgive me 'cause I'm 62 and there's so many I'd like to do all day through, but I'll try to do all I can in the time they give me. Let's set aside all the fussing and fighting and make this night about songwriting. Sing and play some favorite tunes.
SIMON: Carole King joins us now from our studios at NPR West.
Thanks so much for being with us.
Ms. KING: Oh, it's my pleasure. And I should note that I'm actually now 63. That was last year.
SIMON: I'll bet you'll get an even bigger hand when you let that one out.
Ms. KING: Well, I had to actually come up with a new rhyme because...
SIMON: Oh, yeah.
Ms. KING: ...I said, `I'm 62 and there's so many old and new,' so you'll all have to come to the concert to hear what the new rhyme is.
SIMON: Oh, my gosh. Cleverly tipped for us. Well, thanks very much for being with us. Where did this idea come from--that's what you wanted to do?
Ms. KING: I had been doing, actually for many years, concerts for various causes, whether political or my environmental work, and I would perform in people's living rooms. People would be generous enough to donate their homes and collect friends to come over and give some money. And I liked it. I enjoyed the feeling of just telling stories and, you know, playing the songs just really simply and suggesting what a band would play without actually having to have the band there. And I enjoyed doing that, and people seemed to enjoy that so much I thought, `Hmm. Let's see if this translates.'
(Soundbite of "So Far Away")
Ms. KING: (Singing) So far away. Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore? It would be so fine to see your face at my door. It doesn't help to know you're just time away. Long ago I reached for you and there you stood. Holding you again could only do me good. How I wish I could, but you're so far away.
SIMON: Do I have this right? You're from Queens...
Ms. KING: No, I'm originally--I was born in Manhattan.
Ms. KING: I lived in Queens briefly, but I grew up in Brooklyn.
SIMON: All right. I thought it was...
Ms. KING: And I've lived in Idaho for 28 years which I think almost makes me a native.
Ms. KING: So round, round, get around.
Ms. KING: I get around.
SIMON: Well, I--'cause, of course, you know, you are identified, obviously, with Neil Sedaka and with the people in the Brill building and that whole period and ...(unintelligible).
Ms. KING: Right. My formative years were spent in New York and songwriting and growing up, and actually I'm working on a book, an autobiography, and I'm right in the middle of Sting's autobiography which is wonderful. I'm really enjoying it, but all these years, I've been very private and I'm going to let loose of some of that and share some of my life experiences, my musical experiences, with people. And, you know, we can look for that in a couple of years, but right now I'm doing The Living Room Tour. And we have an album coming out. I say an album because a CD is still an album, a collection.
SIMON: Yeah. Well--and, of course I wanted to ask about that. In fact, let's listen to a bit. We have it cued up.
(Soundbite of "It's too Late, Baby")
Ms. KING: (Singing) Sit in bed all morning just to pass the time. There's something wrong here there can be no denying one of us is changing or maybe we've just stopped trying. But it's too late, baby, now it's too late, though we really did try to make it. Something inside has died and I can't hide and I just can't fake it. Woah-oh-oh-oh-ohh.
SIMON: Now what a great song. And people hear this, and my gosh the anecdotes start tumbling out. I mean, we heard the audience reaction. Do you ever feel as if--I mean, have you ever said, `Excuse me, I just don't want to sing "It's too Late, Baby" one more time. I'm going to burst if I do'?
Ms. KING: Sometimes I do feel like that about different songs, but really when I get to do it, the feeling goes away instantly, because each audience is new and different and people just seem to get so much pleasure out of it and that gives the song new life every single time.
SIMON: Do you have a favorite song that you think has been relatively overlooked?
Ms. KING: Actually, on the new CD--one of the songs from "The Color of Your Dreams" album was a song called "Wishful Thinking." And I don't know. It was just sort of put out on that album, and I went back to it for the live concert and people love it. And I love singing it. It's got this very Diana Krall kind of a feeling to it, and I would love it if she would record it because, you know, when I write songs, I not only hear me singing them, I often hear someone else. And she's always who I heard.
SIMON: I think we've cued this up. Let's listen a little bit to this.
Ms. KING: Awesome!
(Soundbite of "Wishful Thinking")
Ms. KING: (Singing) I reach for you but I can't touch you. I feel you just beyond a star. Do you know how much you are all I ever wanted? Is it too much too soon? Am I foolishly dreaming, just baying at the moon, playing impossible...
SIMON: Now I have a lot of admiration for Diana Krall. I'm just wondering why you hear her voice when you wrote this song or when you sing it.
Ms. KING: Because she's so--there's just something so evocative when she sings. And I realize, you know--I feel like I did my own interpretation of it, and I'm happy with it, but she's someone I'd live to hear sing that. And I often feel that way about songs. It all just goes around, and for me, the more interpretations by great singers, the better, 'cause first, last and always I am a songwriter and that is what I bring to people when I do this Living Room concert. It's, like, `OK. Here's how this song got written,' and I share that with people or I'll tell some anecdote on stage. And sometimes it's one I didn't remember and it comes out brand-new, and I'm, like, `Oh, I didn't know I was going to say that,' you know?
Ms. KING: It's really like a collection of friends in the room.
SIMON: Well, Ms. King, it's been awfully good to talk to you. Thank you very much.
Ms. KING: Thank you. I appreciate you having me, and I look forward to seeing folks, you know, in the concert, in the audience.
SIMON: Carole King's new CD is called "The Living Room Tour," and she is on tour now. To find out if she's bringing couches and throw pillows to your town, you can come to our Web site, npr.org.
You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.