Carole King

So Far Away

Composed by Carole King

Song Review by

From the enormously successful 1971 album Tapestry, the sublime "So Far Away" is representative of the LP in general: A thoughtful, unhurried pace and a lilting melody carry an uncomplicated lyric that feels at once heartfelt, personal, and universal. Over a wistful jazz-pop chord progression on her piano, King's vocal melody aches with her narrator's pining: "Long ago I reached for you and there you stood/Holding you again could only do me good/How I wish I could, but you're so far away." The deceptively simple lyric operates on more than one level, beginning with the geographic dislocation of her friend/lover. King's narrator is audibly frustrated in her rhetorical question "doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?" But the guileless lyric searches deeper than mere physical separation; the narrator bears witness to an overall fragmentation to interpersonal relationships and an increasingly transient '70s (and beyond) society in general. "One more song about moving along the highway," sings King, acknowledging the clich├ęd straits into which she has ventured. "Can't say much of anything that's new/If I could only work this life out my way/I'd rather spend it being close to you." There is an innocence that seems even more charming now -- as more artists seem to need to have to convey some form of postmodern ironic detachment or cynicism -- and that is a tragedy; why should a graceful expression of a basic human need have to feel nostalgically quaint and outdated? Yet this still would have been the context in 1971, and clearly this sentiment resonated for many record-buyers -- 13 million and counting, in fact. The weary narrator seems conscious of this jaded context. She should know better, she seems to say, and the song feels like one big sigh. The narrator is not an exception or without blame, though, as she sings in the song's second B-section, "Traveling around sure gets me down and lonely/Nothing else to do but close my mind/I sure hope the road don't come to own me/Yet so many dreams I've yet to find." King is supported by friends and session musicians on this intimate recording -- mostly personnel from James Taylor's records. Taylor himself is here on the track, providing sparse acoustic guitar arpeggios. Charles Larkey (her second husband) adds distinctive harmonic counterpoints on electric bass, as does Curtis Amy on flute. Russ Kunkel plays it mellow on the drums. The legendary Lou Adler produces. The end result sounds like a template for the '70s singer/songwriter genre.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Tapestry 1971 Epic / Legacy
Her Greatest Hits: Songs of Long Ago 1978 BMG / Epic / Legacy / Ode Records / Sony Music Entertainment 3:56
No Image 1983 MGM/UA
In Concert 1994 Jvc Victor 4:26
A Natural Woman: The Ode Collection (1968-1976) 1994 Sony Music Distribution
The  Carnegie Hall Concert: June 18, 1971 1996 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 4:37
No Image 1997 Excelsior Recordings
Best of Love: 16 Great Soft Rock Hits 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:56
Goin' Back [Sony Special Products] 1998 Sony Music Distribution 3:55
Best of Love [Madacy] 1999
Various Artists
Madacy 3:56
Respect: A Century of Women in Music 1999
Various Artists
Rhino
Really Rosie/Her Greatest Hits/Tapestry 2000 Epic/Legacy 3:55
Natural Woman: The Very Best of Carole King 2000 Sony Music Distribution 3:56
No Greater Love 2001
Various Artists
Global TV 3:45
Ultimate Power of Love 2002
Various Artists
Madacy 3:56
Classic Tearjerkers [Time/Life] 2004
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:57
Ultimate Love [Madacy] 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 3:56
The Ultimate Acoustic Songbook 2005
Various Artists
Bmg Tv 3:55
The Living Room Tour 2005 Concord Records (Canada) 4:52
The Carnegie Hall Concert/Fantasy/Rhymes & Reasons 2005 Madacy 4:12
The Collection 2006 Sony Music Distribution 3:55
No Image 2007 Epic 3:57
Welcome to My Living Room 2007 Rockingale Records
Collector's Edition 2008 Madacy 4:12
The  Essential Carole King 2010 Epic / Legacy 3:57
Singers & Songwriters: Classics 2010
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:57
Singers & Songwriters [Time-Life Box Set] 2011
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:57
A Beautiful Collection: Best of Carole King Epic 3:56
No Image
Various Artists
Hard Rock Cafe Falcon / Membran
blue highlight denotes editor's pick