I'm very sorry to have learnt this morning of the death of Gerry Goffin, whose lyrics paired mostly with Carole King's melodies made up a huge part of a (my) generation's soundtrack between the late 1950s and the arrival of the Beatles. I watched a compelling documentary on Carole King very recently on BBC4-TV, in which someone - I've forgotten who - said that Goffin's lyrics tended to be a shade dark but that King's tunes were cheerier. I think that's right and that it's what made for a perfect pairing. You'd be hard pressed to beat, for affecting simplicity and earworm catchiness - for the genius of pop, in fact - their quintessential Will You Love Me Tomorrow?', made wondrous by the Shirelles and yet very capable, decades later, of holding up when revisited by Amy Winehouse.

Gerry Goffin wrote with others too, including, much later and less significantly, Bob Dylan.

Here's my entry on him from The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (updated only to note his death):

Goffin, Gerry [1939 - 2014]
Gerry Goffin was born in Brooklyn on February 11, 1939. He began writing song lyrics at the age of 8 but had to wait many years before finding a music-writing partner. After high school he enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserve and was duly admitted to the Annapolis Naval Academy in Maryland, from which he resigned after a year, returning to New York and majoring in chemistry at Queens College, where he met Carole King.
            For a few golden years as from 1959, when they married and started to dream up songs together, they enjoyed huge success as the prolific writers of pop hits, working out of the famous Brill Building at 1819 Broadway, New York City, for Nevins-Kirchner-Colgem from 1960 onwards. For details of their joint songs, see under King, Carole. While in this golden age, Goffin also co-wrote with Barry Mann (whose usual partner was Cynthia Weill), as in the case of ‘Who Put The Bomp?’, which Goffin himself recorded, scoring a Top 10 US hit.
            Just as Goffin and King did not write together exclusively while married, so too their professional collaboration did not end with their divorce (they co-wrote Blood Sweat & Tears’ ‘Hi-De-Ho’), though Gerry Goffin seemed to come out of this less well equipped than Ms King, both as a songwriter and a performer. He made a 1973 solo album, It Ain’t Exactly Entertainment, which was not a success (while King enjoyed spectacular solo success with her album Tapestry, albeit including the Goffin-King song ‘Smackwater Jack’) and he wrote only the occasional hit in the 1970s  -  notably Gladys Knight’s ‘I’ve Got to Use My Imagination’ and Rod Stewart’s ‘It’s Not the Spotlight’, both co-written with Barry Goldberg (who recorded the latter himself, with some minor assistance from Bob Dylan, on a 1973 album, while on Dylan’s 1984 European tour, musician Gregg Sutton was given, unfathomably, a solo slot in which he regularly sang the former). In the 1980s Goffin managed to co-write, with Michael Masser, ‘Tonight I Celebrate My Love’, recorded by both Perry Como and Roberta Flack, Crystal Gayle’s ‘A Long and Lasting Love’ and Whitney Houston’s ‘Savin’ All My Love For You’, released on her début album in 1985 (an album that eventually sold 24 million copies) and a no.1 hit single.
            In late 1995 or early 1996 Gerry Goffin was working on a new solo album, his first for aeons, when Bob Dylan dropped into the studios, brought along by their mutual friend Barry Goldberg. Dylan duly played guitar (along with Goldberg on keyboards and Tim Drummond on bass, plus various others) on two tracks that made it onto Goffin’s album. The tracks are ‘Masquerade’ (on which Dylan is listed as co-producer with Goffin, and as co-writer) and ‘Tragedy of the Trade’ (co-written by Goffin, Dylan and Goldberg). A posting on Amazon’s website suggests that Dylan can also be heard on background vocals on the track ‘A Woman Can Be Like A Gangster’. The album, Back Room Blood, was released in July 1996. You might assume the title refers to the fact that Goffin’s main career has been as backroom boy  -  songwriter rather than singer  -  but the long, bitter, foaming, ‘Hurricane’-style lyric of ‘Tragedy of the Trade’ includes the opaque couplet ‘The world’s been run with backroom blood / Long before the time of the flood’. A third co-written song, ‘Coast to Coast Blues’, is covered by Anders Osborne on his 1999 album Living Room  -  on which Freddy Koella can be found playing guitar  -  but isn’t included on Goffin’s.
            Back Room Blood  is not a great album, and Goffin’s voice sometimes sounds like a poor imitation of Dylan, but these co-written songs have certainly been under-attended to by Dylan aficionados, and the album that contains them has, overall, a kind of floundering agitation that’s rather endearing.
            Gerry Goffin died of natural causes at age 75 on June 19, 2014.
[Gerry Goffin: It Ain’t Exactly Entertainment, nia, 1973, CD-reissued Airmail nia, 2001; Back Room Blood, Genes 4132, US, 1996. Anders Osborne: Living Room, Shanachie 5375, Newton NJ, 1999.]

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