Richard Hyatt: 'Never Too Late to Rock & Roll'

July 12, 2014 

He wrote the words to the soundtrack of our lives, but most of us were never aware of Gerry Goffin. We knew the woman who wrote the melodies and we still listen to an iconic album that Carole King recorded more than 40 years ago, but her co-writer avoided the spotlight.

About the time a Broadway production drew attention to their splintered partnership, Goffin -- the lyricist who brought literature to rock 'n' roll -- died several weeks ago. He was 75, and the words of more than 50 Top 40 songs still rolled around in his head.

Goffin's death was a letter of introduction to people who still sing along to lyrics that made us laugh and cry. Today, they make us remember.

Goffin and King collaborated on songs for soloists and groups but more than the artists they wrote for those of us that listened.

Such as "Up on the Roof," which they penned for The Drifters:

"When this old world starts getting me down

and people are just too much for me to face

I climb way up to the top of the stairs

and all my cares just drift right into space."

For Aretha Franklin they wrote "Natural Woman:"

"When my soul was in the lost and found

you came along to claim it

I didn't know just what was wrong with me

Till your kiss helped me name it.

In a whimsical moment, Goffin asked this musical question:

"Who put the bomp

in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?

Who put the ram

in the rama lama ding dong?

They wrote a legendary catalogue of songs and while they were married they had two daughters. Together they were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. As a solo artist, King recorded "Tapestry," one of the most memorable albums of all time.

Their songs are lighthouses that bring us back to shore. They remind us of a time when life was simple and we were young.

And even if we didn't have a whole lot of money or a big fine car, those days were some kind of wonderful.

--Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at hyatt31906 @knology.net.

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