Lifetime Achievement Award: Carole King

GRAMMY-winning songwriter Diane Warren pays tribute to a friend
  • Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
    Carole King
  • Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images
    Diane Warren
February 05, 2013 -- 12:01 pm PST
By Diane Warren /

(In addition to the GRAMMY Awards, The Recording Academy presents Special Merit Awards recognizing contributions of significance to the recording field, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award. Each year, The Academy invites friends and colleagues of Special Merit Awards recipients to pay tribute to the honorees' career accomplishments, while also adding colorful anecdotes and personal accounts. In the days leading up to the 55th GRAMMY Awards, will present the tributes to the 2013 Special Merit Awards recipients.)

I have such a clear memory of this: I was probably no more than 7 years old. There was a 45 of a song one of my older sisters had. It was my favorite song. I looked at the name in the parentheses; oddly, not at the name of the artist who sang the song, but to see who wrote it. The song was "Up On The Roof" and the names in parentheses were Goffin/King. I would look at a lot of my favorite songs and see those same names.

Carole King, along with Gerry Goffin, or on her own, has written some of the greatest and most enduring songs of the last 100 years, and that will last hundreds more. Songs such as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "It's Too Late," and "You've Got A Friend," and so many more. Later she went on to make history with her own album Tapestry, showing the world it all comes down to the simplicity of a great song sung as only the writer of those songs could sing them. Perhaps not with the virtuosity and vocal gymnastics of some of the singers who sang them or could have sung them, but with more heart and soul than anyone else could ever bring to them.

I met Carole King at Duke's Coffee Shop when I was a starstruck 20-year-old and I stuttered something to her about being a fan and I'm a songwriter too. And she was very nice to me, even though I'm sure the last thing she wanted to do was talk to me. At that time I was frustrated by not yet having a hit and she told me to keep on writing and it will happen.

People use terms like "she is one of the greatest 'female' songwriters." F*** that. Carole King is one of the best songwriters. Ever.

On a personal note, I want to thank her for the kind words she took her time to say to an annoying person interrupting her breakfast. And also thank her for so many songs that have touched me and so many others. Congratulations on this award, Carole. No one deserves it more.   

(Songwriter Diane Warren has been nominated for 12 GRAMMY Awards and six Academy Awards, winning a GRAMMY in 1996 for "Because You Loved Me." She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001.)

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