Saturday Reads: Remembering the Soundtrack to the ’60s, and Other News

Husband and wife singer songwriting team Goffin and King rehearse during a recording session in a New York studio in 1959. (h/t NY Daily News)

Husband and wife singer songwriting team Goffin and King rehearse during a recording session in a New York studio in 1959. (h/t NY Daily News)

Good Morning

On Thursday we lost another 1960s music great; Gerry Goffin, who wrote lyrics to Carole King’s music died at 75. The talented couple wrote the songs that accompanied my teenage years–so much great music associated with so many memories.

From the Guardian Gerry Goffin: the poet laureate of teenage pop:

Gerry Goffin, a trainee chemist who became the poet laureate of teenage pop, specialised in coming up with a great opening line to grab the audience’s attention. Plenty of people will remember the first time they heard “Tonight you’re mine completely/ You give your love so sweetly,” from Will You Love Me Tomorrow, or “Looking out on the morning rain/ I used to feel so uninspired,” from (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. But he didn’t stop there.

Buried a little deeper in those wonderful songs are the lines that really touched his young listeners’ hearts. The words to the bridge, or middle section, of that first Shirelles hit from 1960 were almost like poetry: “Tonight with words unspoken/ You say that I’m the only one/ But will my heart be broken/ When the night meets the morning sun?” And when Goffin presented Aretha Franklin with the second verse of A Natural Woman – “When my soul was in the Lost and Found, you came along to claim it” – he gave countless ordinary lovers a way to express their deepest feelings.

Misleadingly, they are often called “Carole King songs”. She wrote the tunes, and later on she would sing them when, after Goffin and King divorced, she embarked on a hugely successful solo career. But whenever King sang her own, gentler versions of the Chiffons’ One Fine Day or the Drifters’ Up on the Roof, she was still singing Goffin’s words. They were written by the man she had met when she was 17 and he was 20, and with whom she had two daughters while they lived in an apartment in the Queens housing project LeFrak City – and with whom she travelled to work in Manhattan every day at their cubicle in the offices of Aldon Music at 1650 Broadway, where they pumped out hit after hit after hit.

Goffin King

From The New York Times: Gerry Goffin, Hitmaking Songwriter With Carole King, Dies at 75:

Mr. Goffin and Ms. King were students at Queens College when they met in 1958. Over the next decade they fell in love, married, had two children, divorced and moved their writing sessions into and out of 1650 Broadway, across the street from the Brill Building. (The Brill Building pop music of the late 1950s and ‘60s was mostly written in both buildings.)

Together they composed a catalog of pop standards so diverse and irresistible that they were recorded by performers as unalike as the Drifters, Steve Lawrence, Aretha Franklin and the Beatles. They were inducted together into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2004 the Recording Academy presented them jointly with a Trustees Award for lifetime achievement.

The couple’s writing duties were clearly delineated: Ms. King composed the music, Mr. Goffin wrote the lyrics — among them some of the most memorable words in the history of popular music.

“His words expressed what so many people were feeling but didn’t know how to say,” Ms. King said in a statement on Thursday.

A bit more about Goffin:

Gerald Goffin was born on Feb. 11, 1939, in Brooklyn and grew up in Jamaica, Queens. He began writing lyrics as a boy — “like some kind of game in my head,” he recalled once — but found he was unable to come up with satisfying music to accompany them.

He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School before enrolling at Queens College. He was three years older than Ms. King, studying chemistry, when they met in the spring of her freshman year.

He asked her to help him write a musical. She was interested in rock ‘n’ roll. They hit it off anyway, and she was pregnant with their first child when they married on Aug. 30, 1959.

Gerry Goffin

Gerry Goffin

After the couple divorced in 1968, King went on to become a singer and songwriter in her own right, although the two continued to collaborate and maintained a friendship. Goffin married again and and the couple had five children.

In addition to his wife, [Michelle] Mr. Goffin’s survivors include four daughters, Louise Goffin, Sherry Goffin Kondor, Dawn Reavis and Lauren Goffin; a son, Jesse Goffin; six grandchildren; and a brother, Al.

Goffin and King’s first hit was “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” which they wrote in 1960 for the girl group the Shirelles. After the song hit #1 on the charts in 1961, Goffin quit his job as a chemist and began working full-time as a lyricist.

Goffin’s lyrics deftly touch on the doubt that lurks behind all new romances. As sung by Shirelles’ leader Shirley Owens in unflappable manner, the song doesn’t skimp on the wonder inherent in any fresh coupling. But it’s also unflinchingly realistic about the possibility that the fairy dust will dissolve at dawn.

“Can I believe the magic in your sighs?” Owens pointedly asks her paramour. In the bridge, Goffin’s words flow like champagne even as they fear the possible hangover: “Tonight with words unspoken/You’ll say that I’m the only one/But will my heart be broken/When the night meets the morning sun.” King’s melody plays a big role in the overall effect, arching high in the verses and middle eight while accompanied by strings that elegantly trip across the proceedings like moonlight dancers, before coming back down to Earth for the interrogative refrain.

In other news . . .

At Salon, Simon Malloy writes about the multiplying Republican scandals: GOP’s sudden scandal-mania: Why criminal probes and infighting are taking over the party.

It’s fashionable right now to talk about the premature end of Barack Obama’s presidency. He’s fast approaching the second half of his second term, which is historically the beginning of lame-duck season. His poll numbers aren’t what anyone would call ideal, and Republicans (in concert with some excitable members of the press) are rushing to proclaim the Obama presidency dead. “I saw a commentator today say that these polls, what they reflect, is that the Obama presidency is over,” Sen. Marco Rubio said, referring to NBC’s Chuck Todd. “And I agree with that. I think it is, in general.” Speaker John Boehner told reporters at his weekly press briefing yesterday: “You look at this presidency and you can’t help but get the sense that the wheels are coming off.” ….The funny thing is that as Republicans team up with pundits to chisel out Obama’s epitaph, the Republican Party itself is falling to pieces right before our eyes.

Yesterday’s news that Scott Walker and Chris Christie sinking deeper into their respective scandals is as good a sign as any of the GOP’s political disintegration. After Obama crushed Mitt Romney in 2012, Republicans began casting about for their 2016 redeemer, and Christie and Walker were high on the list. They won conservative hearts with their antagonism toward unions, but they had also found a way to win in reliably Democratic states. If the GOP hoped to take on candidate-in-waiting Hillary Clinton, they’d need someone who could peel away some Democratic voters. Walker had talked about the need to nominate an “outsider” like himself in 2016.

Now Christie and Walker are implicated in criminal investigations. Prosecutors in Wisconsin placed Walker at the center of a “criminal scheme” to coordinate campaign spending with outside groups. In New Jersey, the investigation stemming from the George Washington Bridge scandal is reportedly closing in on Christie himself. For both men, once considered potential saviors of the GOP, the political future looks considerably dimmer.

Read Malloy’s take on it at the link.

At FiveThirtyEightPolitics, David Wasserman has a long article on “What we can learn from Eric Cantor’s defeat.” You really need to read the whole thing, but here’s a small excerpt that deals with the contribution of public distrust of Congress:

Cantor was only the second House incumbent to lose a primary this year (the first was Texas Republican Ralph Hall), but the warning signs of discontent were abundant: Plenty of rank-and-file House incumbents had been receiving startlingly low primary vote shares against weak and under-funded opponents, including GOP Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Lee Terry of Nebraska and David Joyce of Ohio. In fact, just a week before Cantor’s defeat and without much fanfare, socially moderate Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey received just 54 percent of the Republican primary vote against the same tea party-backed opponent he had taken 61 percent against in 2012.

Overall, 32 House incumbents have taken less than 75 percent of the vote in their primaries so far this year, up from 31 at this point in 2010 and just 12 at this point in 2006. What’s more, 27 of these 32 “underperforming” incumbents have been Republicans.1

In other words, while Congress’s unpopularity alone can’t sink any given member in a primary, it has established a higher baseline of distrust that challengers can build on when incumbents are otherwise vulnerable. And as the sitting House Majority Leader, Cantor was uniquely susceptible to voters’ frustration with Congress as an institution.

There’s much more interesting analysis at the link.


George Will’s recent column on campus rapes is still in the news. From Talking Points Memo, George Will’s Latest: College Rape Charges Fueled By ‘Sea Of Hormones And Alcohol’.

Will explained that he took issue with the practice of adjudicating campus sexual assault cases by a “preponderance” of evidence, rather than hitting the bar of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. That flies in the face of due process, he argued, and ultimately harms young men’s future prospects.

“What’s going to result is a lot of young men and young women in this sea of hormones and alcohol, that gets into so much trouble on campuses, you’re going to have charges of sexual assault,” he said. “And you’re going to have young men disciplined, their lives often permanently and seriously blighted by this — don’t get into medical school, don’t get to law school, all the rest.”

Four Democratic senators reached out to Will after his column was published to torch the conservative columnist’s “ancient beliefs.” Will said he wrote a letter back to the senators and laid out his rebuttal in the C-SPAN interview.

“What I say is that: A) I take sexual assault more seriously than I think they do, because I agree that society has correctly said that rape is second only to murder as a serious felony,” Will said. “And therefore, when someone is accused of rape, it should be reported to the criminal justice system that knows how to deal with this, not jerry-built, improvised campus processes.”

“Second, I take, I think, sexual assault somewhat more seriously than the senators do because I think there’s a danger now of defining sexual assault so broadly, so capaciously, that it begins to trivialize the seriousness of it,” he added. “When remarks become sexual assault, improper touching — bad, shouldn’t be done, but it’s not sexual assault.”

Well, we can’t have young men’s lives “blighted” by rape charges. Much better for young women to just suck it up and deal with a years of post-traumatic stress on their own and keep their complaints to themselves.

Whatever you do, don’t miss this TBogg post at Raw Story: Gentleman George Will is getting damned tired of having to explain rape to you guttersnipes.

Victorian gas-pipe and Her Majesty’s Curator of Rape To The Colonies, George Will, has just about had it up to here with you people — YES, YOU PEOPLE.

And especially you. Don’t think by closing your laptop he can’t see you, because he can.

Oh yes, he most certainly can, you loathsome wastrel.

t seems that, after explaining the ins and out of rape to you ungrateful curs, he was shocked and dismayed to discover that you promiscuous info-trollops on the intertubes are unable to comprehend the pearls of wisdom that he dispenses to the riff-raff gratis, courtesy of Ye Olde Washminster Poste.

Hush now, let Gentleman George condescend to speak down to you and try, fruitlessly no doubt, to explain once again that rape is what George Will says rape is

Now go read the rest at the link. You won’t be sorry.

This sounds like it could do some good: Google commits $50M to encouraging girls to code (CNet)

Google wants to see more women in technology, and it’s funding a $50 million initiative to encourage girls to learn how to code in an effort to close the gender gap.

Thursday night the company kicked off the Made with Code initiative here with celebrities former first daughter Chelsea Clinton and actress and comedienne Mindy Kaling.

Kaling, who emceed the event, said she has tons of ideas for apps but no idea to how make them work. She said she’d like to create a “What’s his deal?” app that takes a picture of guy and tells you whether he’s single, married, a weirdo, or what his car is like. Another idea is a Shazaam-like app for perfume.

“People my age have a million ideas for apps,” she said. “But we have no idea how to build them. Last week in the movies, I didn’t even know how to turn off the flashlight on my phone.”

Kaling isn’t alone. Women are woefully under-represented in the technology industry. Only about 20 percent of software developers in the US are women, according to the Labor Department. Last month, even Google admitted only 17 percent of its tech workers are women.

A bit more possible good news from the BBC: US sets up honey bee loss task force.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the agriculture department will lead the effort, which includes $8m (£4.7m) for new honey bee habitats.

Bee populations saw a 23% decline last winter, a trend blamed on the loss of genetic diversity, exposure to certain pesticides and other factors.

A quarter of the food Americans eat, including apples, carrots and avocados, relies on pollination.

Honey bees add more than $15bn in value to US agricultural crops, according to the White House.

The decline in bee populations is also blamed on the loss of natural forage and inadequate diets, mite infestations and diseases.

There has also been an increase in a condition called colony collapse disorder (CCD) in which there is a rapid, unexpected and catastrophic loss of bees in a hive.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread.

35 Comments on “Saturday Reads: Remembering the Soundtrack to the ’60s, and Other News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a great weekend everyone!!

    • RalphB says:

      Thanks for a great post. I’m quite moved by the death of Gerry Goffin.

      World Cup match of the day: Germany v Ghana at 1:30 Central on espn

      • bostonboomer says:

        Should we root for Ghana?

        • RalphB says:

          We got the perfect outcome, a tie. That means if we beat Portugal tomorrow, we advance to the Group of 16. We will actually qualify ahead of Germany.

          No commentator/expert thought we had any chance at all to advance out of Group G (the group of death) but here we come! USA v Portugal tomorrow at 5:00 pm Central!

        • RalphB says:

          That second half between Germany and Ghana was really beautiful.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            I’m not a fan of the game, but even a non-fan could appreciate the second half of that one. And if it puts USA in a better place, I’m all for it.

  2. NW Luna says:

    Loved the TBogg article!

    Also glad to see that funding is going toward honeybee habitat and CCD research.

  3. RalphB says:

    To no one’s surprise here …

    Texas Tribune: Texas Among Nation’s Worst Water Polluters

    Texas is the second-biggest water polluter in the country, in terms of pounds released, according a new report. But when the toxicity of the pollution is factored in, Texas jumps to the top of the list — and it’s not even close. …

  4. RalphB says:

    Hillary had a very good day in Austin.

    Texas Tribune: Promoting Memoir, Clinton Draws Supporters in Austin

    Asked to name her most vivid Texas memory from the summer of 1972, Hillary Clinton’s mind didn’t turn to politics.

    “Probably the nights we spent at the Armadillo, I suppose,” she said on Friday night, referring to the now-defunct Austin concert venue where she heard the likes of Jerry Jeff Walker. “I know I should say something more serious and thoughtful, but boy did we have fun.”

    Clinton was speaking at the Long Center in Austin to promote her new book, “Hard Choices,” a policy-focused memoir of her tenure as secretary of state during the first term of the Obama Administration. Earlier in the day, Clinton signed copies of her book at BookPeople in Austin. …

    • NW Luna says:

      She was here in Seattle on Weds. Damn, I couldn’t afford the time off. People starting lining up at 5 am for the 5 pm book signing.

      • bostonboomer says:

        And she was in Cambridge on Monday. How does she do it?

      • RalphB says:

        I spent the afternoon at my car dealer getting it serviced. They were super busy and it took 3 hours to change the oil, transmission fluid, and do a boat load of diagnostics and checks. Luckily they had a big screen TV so I could watch the world cup while there.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Three New Ways the Koch Brothers Are Screwing America
    The fourth-richest men in America target low-wage workers, minority voters and unions

    Read more:

    • RalphB says:

      Poor billionaires just can’t catch a break.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Poor ole Koch boys. They won’t be happy until they’ve created a culture that has us all indebted to the company store or where we’re all reduced to share croppers and slave laborers.

        Has anyone but me noticed that Koch Industries are running ads on CNN? It looks to be some sort of damage control aimed at telling the public about what great products Koch Industries provides to Americans.

  6. ANonOMouse says:

    Great post today BB. TBogg made my day. And George Will in the CYA mode is priceless.

    George Will just doesn’t get Don’t
    George Will just doesn’t get Won’t
    And drunk is not an excuse
    For abuse is always abuse

    And boys just cannot be boys
    When girls are seen as boys toys.
    It’s time for all men to know
    That NO always means NO!!!!!

  7. ANonOMouse says:

    You can’t make this shit up.


  8. bostonboomer says:

    Apparently, Hillary defended a child rapist in 1975 when she was a 27-year-old defense attorney at a legal aid center for indigent people. She was appointed to the case by a judge; it was her very first trial. The guy got off easy, which rapists usually did in those days.

    Now good old Josh Rogin has interviewed the victim. His piece is really strange. The woman says she didn’t know the defense attorney was Hillary until 2008, and she wasn’t upset at Hillary then. Now she’s speaking up after hearing tapes of Hillary discussing the case years ago. She says Hillary should have helped her. But of course a defense attorney can’t do that. She has to defend her client to the best of her ability.

    The victim was also interviewed by Glenn Thrush in 2008.

    According to Thrush’s article, the victim didn’t fault Clinton for her defense of the attacker during their 2008 interview, which took place in the prison where the victim was serving time for drug-related offenses, in the presence of the warden. “I’m sure Hillary was just doing her job,” he quoted the victim as saying. After all, everyone has a right to be defended in court. And 1975 was a lifetime ago.

    But the victim now claims she was misquoted. She didn’t even know Clinton was the lawyer who defended her attacker until Thrush showed her Clinton’s book and she had no other information about what had happened behind closed doors in that courtroom when Thrush approached her, she said. Thrush declined to comment….

    After she was released from prison in 2008, the victim read more about Clinton’s involvement in her case, but she never planned to confront Clinton about it.

    “I started seeing where I had really been stomped in the ground. I didn’t really know what to do about it. I just figured life would have to go on and I would have to live with it,” she said.

    But after hearing the newly revealed tapes of Clinton boasting about the case, the victim said she couldn’t hold her tongue any longer and wanted to tell her side of the story to the public….

    In her interview with The Daily Beast, she recounted the details of her attack in 1975 at age 12 and the consequences it had for both her childhood and adult life. A virgin before the assault, she spent five days afterwards in a coma, months recovering from the beating that accompanied the rape, and over 10 years in therapy. The doctors told her she would probably never be able to have children….

    She described being afraid of men for years and dealing with anger issues well into her adulthood. At one point, she turned to drugs, a path that ultimately led her to prison. Now 52, she has never married or had children. She said she has been sober for several years and has achieved a level of stability, although she remains unemployed and living on disability assistance….

    The victim doesn’t remember ever meeting Clinton in 1975; she says her memories from that ordeal are spotty. But she does recall feeling exasperated by the law enforcement and legal proceedings to the point where she told her mother she just wanted it to be over so she could try to resume her childhood.

    “I had been through so much stuff I finally told them to do whatever,” she remembered. “They had scared me so bad that I was tired of being put through it all. I finally said I was done… I thought they had both gotten long-term sentences, I didn’t realize they got off with hardly nothing.”

    Whether or not Clinton was just doing her duty as a defense lawyer, for the victim, Clinton’s behavior speaks to her character, her ambition, and her suitability to be a role model for women or president of the United States.

    She says she’s afraid Clinton might try to “hurt” her now that she has spoken out again.

    You’d think the media would be able to find more recent smear stories on Hillary. I feel awful for this woman, but I think she’s being used again. I hope her name doesn’t come out.

    • RalphB says:

      I don’t know what to think about the coma and the months of recovery mentioned in her interview but there is not a word about anything like that in the court documents which are all here.

      Are we looking at another “Arkansas Project” to dig up largely phony dirt on a Clinton?

      • bostonboomer says:

        It sure looks that way.

        • NW Luna says:

          Defense lawyers are supposed to defend the defense party. In the U.S. we have presumption of innocence until found guilty. If you are a lawyer in certain organizations, often those who defend persons who cannot afford a lawyer, you cannot pick and choose your cases — as Hillary couldn’t. Plus, I doubt Hillary “boasted” about the case afterwards.

          I agree; this unfortunate person is being used — probably by some group with George Will-type members who pooh-pooh rape and get outraged by women having access to birth control.

    • Fannie says:

      The title of this article is so misleading…………Hillary put me through hell. The person that put her through hell was the rapist(s?). Rape is a crime of violence, and it’s all about control.

      Hillary was involved in a legal process, and she had a prescribed role. There are laws, and it looks like to me, that she gathered up information on the girl’s family background, and emotional state, and required a psychiatric evaluation. If all these things were done, were are they? She was a child, so are those records sealed? This woman wants to blame Hillary, and not the rapist for going in and out prisons, and on and off drugs and what ever other criminal behavior she has been involved in. She said one thing, and 8 years later says another thing. Bet she changed her haircut every time she decided to change her story, and was shooting dope and popping pills on a regular basis.

      I think Hillary was attempting to do her job, and using a psychological approach. I hate plead bargaining. I do know this, Hillary soon after starting the Arkansas Rapist Hotline. That tells me she was human first, and lawyer last.

    • Fannie says:

      Living History, HRC, 2003, page 72, 73

      One day, the Washington County prosecuting attorney, Mahlon Gibson, called to tell me an indigent prisoner accused of raping a twelve-year-old girl wanted a woman lawyer. Gibson had recommended that the criminal court judge, Maupin Cummings, appoint me. I told Mahlon I really didn’t feel comfortable taking on such a client, but Mahlon gently reminded me that I couldn’t very well refuse the judge’s request. When I visited the alleged rapist in the county jail, I learned that he was an uneducated “chicken catcher.” His job was to collect chickens from the large warehouse farms for one of the local processing plants. He denied charges against him, and insisted that the girl, a distant relative, had made up her story. I conducted a thorough investigation and obtained expert testimony from an eminent scientist from New York, who cast doubt on the evidentiary value of the blood and semen the prosecutor claimed proved the defendant’s guilt in the rape. Because of that testimony, I negotiated with the prosecutor for the defendant to plead guilty to sexual abuse. When I appeared with my client before Judge Cummings to present that plea, he asked me to leave the courtroom while he conducted the necessary examination to determine the factual basis for the plea. I said, “Judge, I can’t leave. I’m his lawyer.” “Well,” said the judge, “I can’t talk about these things in front of a lady.” “Judge,” I reassured him, “don’t think of me as anything but a lawyer. The judge walked the defendant through his plea and then sentenced him. It was shortly after this experience that Ann Henry and I discussed setting up Arkansas’s first rape hot line.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks for posting this, Fannie. As I said in my first comment, Hillary was sworn to defend her client to the best of her ability. This was her very first case, and she was a legal aid attorney assigned by the judge. In addition, 1975 was a whole different time in terms of rape prosecutions. You’re right that the perpetrator is the one responsible–and the prosecutor of course.

        What bothers me is that this woman, who sounds fairly ignorant and was in prison for drugs is being used by the right wing media to try to smear Hillary for something that happened almost 40 years ago!

        • Fannie says:

          BB, I want to carry over this subject………….If you could put your first comment, and the Living History, over to Sunday, I will try to add some information. And would like input as to what you made reference to “a whole different time in terms of rape prosecutions.

          You are right, the rightwing would rather see a woman die in hospital, than allow her to have an abortion, regardless of the reason she needs one. This is why they are using this young girl.

          You know, I said, and believe, Hillary was human first, lawyer last. Then I got the book out, and she told the judge, just look at me a lawyer, not a woman, because he wanted her excluded from his examination with the rapist………can you believe that, my eyes popped a little. That’s something we need to understand here.

  9. RalphB says:

    This is good news…