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10 Songs You Didn’t Know Carole King Wrote

“The Loco-Motion,” Monkees’ ‘Head’ theme and other standouts from legendary songwriter’s vast catalog

Played back to back, Carole King's chart entries would run about five straight hours. And those are just her hits – not to mention album tracks, B sides, and the odd flop. King's career as a songwriter is so expansive that it dwarfs even the monster sales figures of her classic 1971 solo juggernaut, Tapestry, which currently tops 25 million and counting.

King was a musical prodigy, selling melodies to New York City publishing companies while she was still in high school. In college she met Gerry Goffin, destined to be her lover and lyricist for the next decade. Though the marriage didn't survive, their musical partnership weathered the shifting styles of the Sixties, yielding smashes for teen idols and rock bands, big-haired girl groups and big-voiced R&B legends.

King's hits helped make her the most successful female songwriter — and certainly among the most influential songwriters, period – of the 20th century. In honor of King's 75th birthday, we look beyond her immortal smashes like "You've Got a Friend" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman" to spotlight 10 tracks you may not have known she had a hand in creating.

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“If It’s Over,” Mariah Carey (1991)

King's interest in Carey was piqued when she watched the young singer perform her debut single, "Vision of Love," on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1990. During sessions for her second album, Emotions, the following year, Carey was stunned to receive a telephone call from King, asking if she would be interested in recording her composition, "(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman." Aretha Franklin's 1967 original had gone on to become one of the most iconic recordings in R&B history, making it intimidating territory for any vocalist who might attempt it. Carey ultimately demurred because, as she later explained to New York, "Aretha's one of my idols and I felt what she did with the song was an untouchable performance."

Determined to work with the ascending star, King flew from her home in Idaho to New York City for a one-day writing session with Carey. "It was a true collaboration," King told USA Today of the meeting. "I'd come up with an idea. She'd come back with something else. In the end we came up with what we both think is a wonderful song. I love her voice. She's very expressive. She gives a lot of meaning to what she sings."

The result was "If It's Over," an epic slow burn gospel ballad for the ages. Traces of "Natural Woman" are clear in its sparse melody and laid-back rhythm, giving Carey ample room to showcase her five-octave voice. She would perform the song at the Grammys in 1992, as well during her MTV Unplugged set that year.

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