The subject for Day 12 of my 30 Day Song Challenge is “A song from your teenage years“, and my pick is the poignant break-up song “It’s Too Late” by Carole King. I was 16 years old when the song came out in April 1971, and remember thinking that it had a more mature feel, both lyrically and musically, than most of the other songs I’d heard up to that point in my young life. Though I’d not yet been involved in a romantic relationship, the song’s bittersweet lyrics about the end of a love affair really resonated with me. I also loved the song’s simple, yet sophisticated, arrangement and King’s earnest vocals that beautifully expressed a sense of sad resignation, without being too maudlin.
The song was co-written by King, who composed the music, and Toni Stern, who wrote the lyrics. Stern later told author Sheila Weller for her 2009 book Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon – and the Journey of a Generation, that she wrote the lyrics in a single day, after her love affair with James Taylor ended. For the recording of the song, King played piano and sang vocals, Danny Kortchmar played guitar and conga, Curtis Amy played the haunting saxophone, Charles Larkey played bass, Joel O’Brien played drums, and Ralph Schuckett played electric piano.
The lead single from her hugely successful and critically-acclaimed masterpiece album Tapestry, “It’s Too Late” was a massive hit, spending five weeks at #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts in the summer of 1971, and is my favorite song of that year. The single’s B-side “I Feel the Earth Move” also charted, peaking at #12. “It’s Too Late” was awarded a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1972.
Stayed in bed all mornin' just to pass the time There's somethin' wrong here, there can be no denyin' One of us is changin', or maybe we've just stopped tryin' And it's too late, baby, now it's too late Though we really did try to make it Somethin' inside has died And I can't hide and I just can't fake it Oh, no, no, no, no, no (No, no, no, no) It used to be so easy, livin' here with you You were light and breezy, and I knew just what to do Now you look so unhappy and I feel like a fool And it's too late, baby, now it's too late Though we really did try to make it (we can't make it) Somethin' inside has died And I can't hide and I just can't fake it Oh, no, no There'll be good times again for me and you But we just can't stay together, don't you feel it, too? Still I'm glad for what we had and how I once loved you But it's too late, baby, now it's too late Though we really did try to make it (we can't make it) Somethin' inside has died And I can't hide and I just can't fake it Oh, no, no, no, no It's too late, baby It's too late now, darling It's too late