“For years I’ve been hearing the phrase, ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,’” says Louise Goffin.
Essentially bound by DNA to be a singer/songwriter, Louise is the first-born daughter of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, two of the most successful songwriters in American history (with more than 50 hit songs to their credit), so she was pretty much destined to hear the “apple/tree” comment from the instant she began playing piano at age six.
Hence the “apple” portion of the name of her new EP, Appleonfire (Majority Of One Records, February 3, 2015).
“The choice of the word ‘fire’ is in reference to passing the torch, the creative fire, so to speak,” Louise notes, “which for me is an existential need to create in order to feel meaning in this world, and the drive and purpose that comes with honoring that need.”
With Appleonfire Louise invites the world to hear touchstones of her father’s lyrical inspiration, as she includes four songs for which he wrote the lyrics, including one song that she wrote with him, and two that she co-wrote with others.
“His instrument was a spiral notebook” says Louise of her dad, “and he played it masterfully with his brilliant mind and an ordinary pen.” Like father, like daughter, that inspiration is evident in the way Louise continues Gerry’s penchant for approaching lyrics as collaborative healing, a musical bridge from father to daughter that was built when she was still quite young.
“I was in the studio with him when I was around eight,” she reminisces. “I have a recording of him on the talkback mic and me playing songs of mine and Beatles songs. He was exacting, always trying to up the level and speed of success, even with me as a little girl.”
Coming mere months after her sixth CD, the widely heralded Songs From The Mine, Louise’s new EP will certainly surprise her longtime fans who know that, like most musicians these days, she typically goes years between releases.
Appleonfire, in fact, got its genesis following Gerry Goffin’s June 19, 2014, passing—even before Songs From The Mine was released. “Two days after his passing, I performed a song he wrote called ‘It’s Not The Spotlight.’ Singing his lyrics made me feel like he was still with me. When I saw Barry Goldberg, who wrote ‘It’s Not The Spotlight’ with Gerry, I told him I had just played it live,” Louise recounts. “His response was, ‘We should cut it.’ A few weeks later this EP began in a Santa Monica studio as a celebration to Gerry’s spirit.
Appleonfire EP is ripe with six mid-tempo songs that harken back to the deep, ’70s California-rock well of her youth, including four with lyrics by Gerry Goffin himself. Four songs are produced by Louise and Barry Goldberg, “It’s Not The Spotlight;” the Goffin/King nugget “Take A Giant Step” rounded out by two new Louise tunes, “Higher Than Low” and “Everything You Need," both co- written at Steelbridge Songfest last June, the week before Gerry’s passing.
Louise produced two additional songs for the EP, a long-lost Goffin/King tune called “If I’m Late;” and “I’m Not Rich But I’m Not Poor,” a heretofore unrecorded gem written by father and daughter. A guest list of musicians appearing on the record are Jim Keltner, Bob Glaub, Val McCallum, Barry Goldberg, Wally Ingram, Stevie Blacke, Billy Harvey, Butch Norton, Johnny Lee Schell, Joseph Arthur and Jakob Dylan. Jackson Browne generously contributed a day of studio time which, serendipitously, was available the one day the tracking band musicians’ schedules aligned.
“I started off agreeing to record ‘It’s Not The Spotlight’ and then figured while I had this amazing band I’d also record two songs I’d recently written,” she explains. “And because earlier in the year I had sung a duet of a Goffin/ King song at MusiCares with Jakob Dylan, it made sense to invite him to sing on ‘Take A Giant Step.’ In one day we recorded those first four songs.
“The father theme called out, so I recorded two additional songs after that first day: ‘I’m Not Rich But I’m Not Poor’ hung around quietly until I recently considered ‘what else shall I record on this EP?’ Gerry told me the title was a phrase his father used to say to him,” she says of the co-write with her dad, “which meant however humble your financial resources were, it wasn’t a reflection your quality of character.”
“The other one (“If I’m Late”), was a gem I’d never heard before. Someone posted a demo of the song on YouTube the day Gerry passed away. Not only was it a find of an undiscovered song, but it had the added rarity that he was singing lead vocal and my mother was harmonizing with him on it. I recorded it and then took the master to Brooklyn to sing it with Joseph Arthur, who captured the energy my father had on it, while bringing a unique and appealing musicality of his own. I don’t know how that song slipped through the cracks all these years.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in LA’s Laurel Canyon during its music halcyon days, Louise Goffin released her first album at the age of 19. Along the way she’s released six well-received albums of her own; she produced a Grammy-nominated record for Carole King, “A Holiday Carole” and some who have recorded her songs include Paul Thorn, Shawn Colvin, Terry Reid, John Parish, Lindsay Lohan and Carole King herself.
For many who grew up with The Gilmore Girls hit TV show, Louise’s voice can be heard with Carole’s on the duet in the opening theme “Where You Lead”. Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller and the cast of "Beautiful - The Carole King Musical”, recorded a seasonal song Louise wrote with Guy Chambers, “New Year’s Day” for Carols For A Cure, originally written for "A Holiday Carole." A multi-instrumentalist, Louise has also toured the world on electric guitar in Tears For Fears, and played banjo with Bryan Ferry.
Louise’s own recording career long ago transcended the shadow of expectation that goes with being the daughter of elite members of the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame, proven here in the way that her own tunes appear triumphantly on Appleonfire alongside the ones her dad and mom penned. The poignant, subdued blues testimonial “Higher Than Low” (written with James Hall and the late Chris Aaron) and the elevating piano ballad “Everything You Need,” which Louise authored with Kim Manning and Susan Howe, would make any parent proud—even ones named Goffin and King.
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