Carole King Tapestry – Albums that speak volumes about careers and life.
I am always out of step. I was a huge Elton John Fan, just when his career dipped in the early 1980s and David Bowie was uber cool. Now a couple of months ago a friend introduced me to the delights of Billy Joel’s Songs from the Attic, recorded during my early 1980s Elton phase, but comprised of songs composed in the early 1970s, I will review that in career terms in another post, but I want to turn to my favourite period, the early 1970s for a classic album that I discovered only a few months ago – Carole King’s Tapestry. As I said I am always out of step.
It opens with I feel the earth move – which opens like a lovely V8 1970s muscle car. A big bass line to go with earth moving, skies tumbling, and a lovely career word – mellow. The song also talks of our limits of control and our impulsive reactions – good chaos notions. Have you achieved total mellowness in your career? This was something to aspire to in the late 1960s and early 70s. I declare a campaign to bring back mellow in the career counseling lexicon – a feeling of quiet contentment, reflective happiness and a lack of anxiety – something many of my clients would like to achieve.
So far away (doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore) – this for me reminds me of the transient nature of work, and the incessant travel involved and the transient relationships one develops. Carole sings “if I could only work out this life my way” – how often have we felt this or heard this from our clients. A song about closing our mind to the loneliness of travel – essentially change and how we manage it and maintain stability of relationships and place.
Its too late – a song about depression at the inevitability of change as people grow apart despite their best efforts to hold things together – the notion of slow shift or drift that can leave us feeling disenfranchised, lost and despairing. “I feel like a fool” – a line reflecting that feeling that there must have been something more that I could have done – a plaintiff attempt at trying to rationalise the limitations on what we can control.
Home Again – “Sometimes I wonder if I am ever going to make it home again it is so far and out of site, I really need someone to talk to” . The powerful notion of home, being grounded, being with the familiar, in a trusting place with trusting and understanding people – a call for reassurance and the certainties that home represents in the midst of constant change and travel. It reminds me of the importance of establishing a “home” for people in transition, that amidst change and chance, people need a sense of order, that chaos has both order and change – all change and no order is too much for anyone to deal with.
Beautiful “you’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart and then people are going to treat you better, you are going to find that you are beautiful (yes you are) as you feel”. I love the optimism of this song, if the injunction is a little too strident! It captures the essential importance of persistence and the importance of optimism and giving. Uplifting. Indeed it captures some of the more important things that we as counselors are trying to achieve.
Way over yonder “…is a place that I know, where I can find shelter, from a hunger and cold, …that’s where I’m bound”. Another song about home, security, a safe place, a happier place. It is a song about aspiration, self-improvement, about the benefits of being able to stand proudly in “true piece of mind”. For me this can seen as occupational daydreams, thinking optimistically about what things will be like if all goes well.
You’ve got a friend – “when you are down and troubled and you need some living care, and nothing, nothing is going right, close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there, to brighten up even your darkest night, you just call out my name and I you know wherever I am I’ll come running to see you again, Winter, Spring Summer or Fall, all you have to do is call” – Well I could cynically say this sounds like the advertising speil of a telephone counseling service! Less cynically, at face value, I just love the sense of service, connection and reaching out that this song expresses. Given recent UK surveys have suggested a startling number of 30 and 40 somethings feel lonely, disconnected and unhappy in their work, maybe we need to give more time to the notion of loneliness and work’s contribution to it.
Where you lead – “I would go to the ends of the earth.. where you lead I will follow, anywhere that you tell me to, if you need me to be with you…” Again this could be the stalkers refrain, but again it is a song about support and connectedness. It is making the statement that I will compromise, and that what I thought I wanted and what it turns out makes me happy are different things.
Will you love me tomorrow – A gentle song about insecurity, again a refrain about the inevitability of change – is this a transient thing or something longer lasting. It reflects the caution that wisdom dictates from bitter experience of having our commitment dishonored.
Smackwater Jack – A cautionary tale of a frustrated man who takes it out on others with his shotman “you cant talk to a man when he don’t want to understand” – this is the line that resonates with me, thinking about some of those uncooperative or even gung ho clients, who really do not want to be there, or only want to be with you as long as you agree and validate all their ideas, which may not be appropriate. We have to find ways of taking the shotgun from them, to disarm them before we can make any progress.
Tapestry – “an everlasting vision of the ever changing view…impossible to hold…he moved with some uncertainty as if he didn’t know” If this isn’t a song about complexity and chaos I do not know what is. Change, uncertainty, complexity, chance events, limitations, it is all here!
(You make me feel) like a natural woman – “I used to feel uninspired and when I knew I had to face another day, lord it made me feel so tired” – I beautiful song about completion, an optimistic song about sudden and unexpected change transforming a person – the Chaos Theory idea of the Phase Shift.
I know it is a risk to over analyse anything, let alone a work of art the Tapestry represents, but rather for me it is an inspiration see Beyond Personal Mastery ® model for more details (http://tiny.cc/mastery).
There are lot of ideas in this album that apply to our lives and careers and in there I can see a lot of messages about change, complexity, phase shifts and much more besides. Ultimately I love the optimistic note of much of it, as well as the wisdom and recognition of limitations and uncertainty. All in all, some useful ideas for being “mellow”. What do you think?