rock hall 2021

Taylor Swift Pleads Her Case for Carole King Being ‘the Greatest Songwriter of All Time’

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Swifties descended upon this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony due to their high sonic priestess, Taylor Swift, performing on behalf of Düsseldorf kings Kraftwerk. Just kidding. (Admit it, a folklore-ized rendition of “Das Model” would be pretty funny.) Swift instead had the distinction of inducting her personal hero, Carole King, into the Hall, who’s now a two-time Famer following her previous songwriting honor in 1990. Swift also opened the ceremony with a pulsating cover of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” which King wrote for the Shirelles back in 1960. “I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know Carole King’s music,” Swift explained. “I was raised by two of her biggest fans, who taught me the basic truths of life as they saw it: that you should treat people the way you want to be treated, that you must believe that you can achieve whatever you want to in life, and that Carole King is the greatest songwriter of all time.”

The legacy of King’s virtuosic Tapestry, which recently hit the 50th anniversary mark, was woven into numerous parts of Swift’s speech; with its vast success and over 25 million copies sold, King became one of the most successful female artists in music history upon its release. “Her persona on Tapestry feels like listening to a close friend intimately sharing the truths of her life so that you can discover the truths of your own. It feels like sage wisdom, gentle comfort, and reassurance that you aren’t alone in this life,” Swift said. “It was a watershed moment for humans in the world who have feelings and for cats who had big dreams of one day ending up on iconic album covers.” (It’s true. Damn fine feline.)

Swift began listening and dancing to King’s music at the age of 7, which she joked “had been crafted for my exact, specific life experience” at the time. However, flash-forward to the vulnerable Speak Now and Lover years, and the same “tingle of recognition” remained as an adult — only stronger. “Her songs speak to the true and honest feelings that everyone has felt, is currently feeling, or hopes to feel one day,” she continued. “Carole taught artists like me that telling your own story is worth the work and struggle it takes to earn the opportunity for your story to be heard. That musical connection can be generation-spanning. She created the purest works of love and strength and catharsis while navigating the politics of an era that didn’t make space for the idea of a female genius.” Swift also defined King’s songs as being “precious heirlooms” passed down from generations, which is lovely, and makes us think of all the unseen antiques stores in Gilmore Girls.

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Swift on King Being ‘the Greatest Songwriter of All Time’