Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 11 Feb. '39, Queens, NYC) Lyricist, producer. With over 30 top 20 hits, one of the most successful non-performing songwriters of his era. Began writing lyrics over 'inane melodies' as a child; reluctantly qualified as chemist at Queens College of the City of NY, where he met and married composer Carole King. Working for Don Kirshner the team had a world-wide hit '61 ('Will You Love Me Tomorrow', the Shirelles); became pop's most prolific, celebrated partnership until eclipsed by their fans Lennon and McCartney (see entry for King). Goffin's versatile lyrics ranged from pre-teen angst ('Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys', the Cookies '63) to breathtaking sensuality -- '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman', Aretha Franklin '67 -- also had successful collaborations with Barry Mann ('Who Put The Bomp' '61), Jack Keller (b 11 Nov. '36, Brooklyn: 'Run To Him' '61, by Bobby Vee; 'How Can I Meet Her' '62 by the Everly Bros), Russ Titelman ('Yes I Will' '65, the Hollies). After divorce from King '68 his output slowed down due to frustration with music business, also depression and ill health; while King's subsequent songs were sometimes criticized for wide-eyed optimism, Goffin's post-'60s lyrics were often pessimistic. Teamed with keyboardist Barry Goldberg and Muscle Shoals musicians for two-disc album It Ain't Exactly Entertainment on Adelphi label: biting lyrics about politics and lost identity bravely sung in a voice that made Bob Dylan sound like Pavarotti. Also with Goldberg: 'I've Got To Use My Imagination' (Gladys Knight and the Pips), 'It's Not The Spotlight' (Rod Stewart), both '73; less bluesy and more sentimental collaborations with composer/prod. Michael Masser (b 24 March '41, Chicago) incl. 'Theme From Mahogany' '75 (Diana Ross), 'Tonight I Celebrate My Love' '82 (Roberta Flack/Peabo Bryson), 'Saving All My Love For You' '85 (Whitney Houston). Still occasionally wrote with King and eldest daughter Louise (based in London, signed to Stiff label). He was ambivalent about success due to relative neglect; the broad appeal of his hits hid deeply personal lyrics, addressing adult emotions with understated simplicity. His most ambitious work ('Audience For My Pain') was too intense for the pop market and might have done better in a theatrical setting, but TV was killing musical theatre without replacing it. Louise Goffin's album Kid Blue '79 on Asylum in USA reached no. 87.