Have you seen the “What’s your word for 2017?” posts and articles?
The thought is choosing one or two words for the year can help you focus your energy and goals on a specific theme.
I’m going with it.
After much deliberation and consideration of many fine inspiring words, I’ve chosen mine:
Carole King are my theme words for 2017 and they are my hope and wish for others as well.
You’re going to have to hang with me for a bit, because the only way this is going to make any sense is to tell you a story…
When I was a little girl I knew all the words to every song on Carole King’s album Tapestry…every song, every word…from the album’s biggest hit “I Feel the Earth Move” to the less popular “Tapestry” and “Smackwater Jack”. I loved that album, and would sing along with Carole’s easy to sing along with alto voice. To nine-year old me Carole King was all that was hip and earthy and cool. I loved her, I wanted to be Carole King.
It was 1971, I got a Panasonic cassette player/recorder with microphone for Christmas. I remember the day I took my tape recorder and blank cassettes up to my bedroom. I put my Tapestry album on the record player, popped a blank cassette in the Panasonic and pressed record. As Carole sang into my ears, I sang my heart out into that microphone. Our recording session didn’t end until we finished every song, sides one and two. And I thought and believed with each belted note…I am Carole. Yes…I was Carole King…until I played it back and learned quite quickly and certainly with just a few flat off-key notes…I wasn’t Carole at all.
Fast forward forty-four years to January 2016. I’m in New York for a real estate conference and my real estate soul sisters and I score tickets to Beautiful The Carole King Musical.
Beautiful is a fabulous, move you to tears, dance in your seat, if you ever get a chance to see it you must, show. Really…it’s that good.
What struck me the most was that I had loved Carole King all my life and never knew her story. I didn’t know that she was an incredibly talented and successful songwriter. As Carol Klein she wrote some of the biggest hits of a generation. “The Locomotion”, “One Fine Day”,“Up on the Roof”, “Go Away Little Girl”…yep, all those songs and more were written by Carole King. She didn’t perform back then, she wouldn’t sing, she didn’t believe she had talent enough to be a singer. She was a songwriter…and a good one.
Her personal life hit a big bump. And what came out of that bump was Carole King. The Carole King of “Tapestry” the Carole King I loved and knew.
In the play it’s a visual and musical transformation…Carol Klein in her skirts and sweater sets and perfectly tight curled hair writing hit after hit…always refusing to sing but watching others take those hits to number one..and then…the last scene…a dimly lit Carnegie Hall…a spotlight on the piano in the center of the stage…And with a flowing maxi dress on, and her curly hair now left untamed…she sits at the bench and begins to play…and it’s her song she’s playing and it’s her voice singing… “You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face” …and bam, it’s Carole King…and damn, it is beautiful! Curtain falls. There’s a standing O. My real estate soul sisters and I?? There’s not a dry eye among us.
I saw the play nearly a year ago, and have thought of it and Carole King often…even up until today…and I realize, the reason it’s stuck with me, the reason I think of the play and Carole often is…all these years later…I still want to be Carole King.
No, I’m not setting out to begin a musical career, Carnegie Hall isn’t in my future. I’m not after fame or fortune and it’s not to be the cool, super hip, earthy chick that nine-year old me wanted to be. No, it’s none of those things.
It’s that… I’m Carol Klein the songwriter. I am a good and decent person. I’m good at the things I’m good at, I take pride in my work. I’m okay with who I am. I’ve no fewer “hits” of success in my life than Carol Klein had in hers… it’s all good. But it’s not Carole King. If I’m honest with myself…really, really honest, I have to admit, I hang on to fear to keep life successfully safe. Carol Klein did too…at least for a while. Carol Klein was an accomplished songwriter but she was afraid to sing…afraid she didn’t have the talent to do more than she had already successfully done. And then she hit a big bump in life. And when she found herself in the bump, she didn’t shrink, she didn’t retreat, she threw caution to the wind, let her hair blow back, was true to herself, found her voice, her words, her music, she sang, became Carole King and gave the world Tapestry.
And me? Though it’s a fresh start this first day of a new year, this first day of 2017, it is for me a bump…I’m sure I am not all I might be and I am afraid of just about everything…failure, rejection, embarrassment, racism, Donald Trump, post-truth, global warming…you name it and I’m afraid of it. But in choosing Carole King as my words for 2017, I am wondering with hope and determination what might be on the other side of this bump and all that I am afraid of. I’d like to find out. I’d like to see what “tapestry” I might have in me.
That’s the story…and that’s why Carole King are my words for 2017…and they are my wish for you in the new year too.
So here’s to making something good of life’s bumps, here’s to throwing caution to the wind, forging ahead in spite of fear, here’s to letting your hair blow back, here’s to finding voices and being true…here’s to finding the Carole in you! It’s gonna be beautiful.
Happy New Year!
P.S. I erased mine and Carole’s recording session moments after playing it back on that fateful day in 1971…the Panasonic tape recorder and cassette are long gone…but in the spirit of this post and as my first attempt at demonstrating my commitment to the endeavor of plowing through fear I share this concrete evidence…though I may know all the words, when it comes to singing, I am no Carole King. But in being brave enough to share it, there’s no denying there’s a glimmer of her in me…#iamcarole