Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Natural Woman, by Carole King

Thanksgiving road trip? Looking for a compelling and fun audiobook to pass the time? Here's what your dashboard CD player's been waiting for: Carole King's memoir, "A Natural Woman."

King turned 70 "One Fine Day" this year -- a fact guaranteed to make a boomer like me feel old. Born Carol Klein, a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn, King's known for the saxy hit "Jazzman," but has led a rock 'n roll life. In "A Natural Woman," a double your fun read/listen, King dishes on her tumultuous, celeb-studded life. Her honeyed, New Yorky voice takes the listener back in time. A key bonus of the audiotape is that she belts out song snippets. Want to revisit the druggy sixties and feminist seventies? King's memoir will not only take you there, but leave you feeling "You've Got a Friend."

As is required in memoir writing, King gives us the dirt -- four marriages, including a first husband who became mentally ill and a later marriage to a charismatic and charming man who would eventually emotionally and physically abuse her. A staunch liberal and environmentalist -- the title "A Natural Woman" couldn't be more fitting -- King spent years raising her kids in a cabin in Idaho. Sprinkle these gems with tales of performing with James Taylor, and of social drama with John Lennon, and you've got a virtual "Tapestry" of juicy listening.

On the downside, King often comes across as opinionated and preachy, and at times I wanted her to stop explaining and just TELL THE STORY! This sometimes detracted from the fun of listening to the drama of her life.

"A Natural Woman" is the perfect book for a road trip. I bet the music of King's life will render rough roads so smooth you'll never think "I Feel the Earth Move." And if you're already on the road, en route to your turkey day destination, you can listen to King's memoir on your winter break trip. "It's [never] Too Late," baby.

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