Published to coincide with her 70th birthday, King reveals in the introduction to her autobiography that she actually started work on it in her late 50s. While the book intermittently surprises and entertains, its frequently slight and uninvolving elements don’t particularly suggest 12 years of solid toil.
King is one of popular music’s living legends, the architect of scores of hugely evocative songs, either providing moments of greatness for others from her cubicle in New York’s Brill Building, or later as a performer in her own right – not least with the groundbreaking, iconic Tapestry album. There are interesting stories along the way, but told in such frustratingly pedestrian language that it’s like King wasn’t actually there.
Too many pages are wasted chronicling 20th Century culture in general (hey, Carole, rock’n’roll and Bill Haley happened to every teenager, not just you), and not enough is made of King’s own experiences at the coalface of popular music. She says she’s proud to have written every word herself, but perhaps a skilled ghostwriter might have been able to bring more atmosphere and energy to the prose. It’s still a good read, but it could have been so much better.