JENNI MURRAY: Love, pain and longing are woven in the Tapestry of my life
- Jenni Murray was age 20, when Carole King released her album Tapestry in 1971
- She reflects on how each of the songs remained relevant throughout her life
- Columnist who is in London, says So Far Away echoes her current situation
Can it have been 50 years since Carole King’s amazing album, Tapestry was released on February 10, 1971? I was 20 years old, three months away from 21. Looking back, I see I have not measured out my life with coffee spoons as T. S. Eliot implies, but in Carole’s series of beautiful songs. I still play it at least once a week.
In 1971 I was a student and in the midst of my first serious love affair; the one that would lead to marriage. At the outset, I remember listening over and over to ‘I only wanna be with you … Where you lead I will follow’. The relationship lasted for several years and I did follow where he led.
Brian Murray’s job as an architect took us to Bristol where I joined BBC local radio, having been rejected by the Corporation in London when I’d applied to train as a studio manager. We were married by then and I did take his name, which is how Jennifer Bailey became Jenni Murray.
Jenni Murray revealed Carole King’s album Tapestry, released in 1971 (pictured), has remained relevant throughout her life
I never thought to change it back when the cracks began to show and, for a while, my track of choice became the one that starts ‘Tonight you’re mine completely … Tonight the light of love is in your eyes’, followed by the question that I suspect haunts so many volatile, youthful couplings, ‘But will you love me tomorrow?’
Eventually, it was the saddest track of them all that became the one I would weep over, late at night — ‘And it’s too late … Something inside has died, And I can’t hide and I just can’t fake it.’
We were divorced, although we managed to remain good friends.
It seems incredible to me that a woman, virtually my contemporary — she’s 79 as I head for 71 — could have had the musical and emotional genius to write a whole series of songs that would resonate throughout a life, but that’s what Carole has achieved.
In the early 1990s, my best friend, Sally, was ousted from a job she loved. That night, heartbroken, she came round to the flat I called Wuthering Depths, we drank far too much wine and played Carole King, over and over.
Her song called You’ve Got A Friend, has truly become our theme tune. It’s the one that says ‘When you’re down and troubled, And you need some loving care . . . You just call out my name, And you know wherever I am, I’ll come running, to see you again’.
The words sum up the essence of female friendship and, throughout the 30-odd years Sally and I have known each other, we’ve always been there for one another.
Jenni (pictured) who is currently in London, said So Far Away echoes the message she keeps sending to her husband and sons on the South coast
The night before I was due to go into hospital five years ago to have my weight-loss surgery — a procedure of which I was understandably nervous — she arranged a surprise visit to the theatre. It was to see the musical Beautiful; the life story of Carole King told through her songs.
The theatre was packed. As You’ve Got A Friend began Sally and I clutched each other’s hands and, surprisingly in such a tough pair of broads, we shed tears.
And here I am still, in London all by myself with my family on the South coast and Carole gives me two more songs to make me feel I’m not alone in feeling lonely.
In Home Again she wonders if she’s ever going to make it home again and in So Far Away she echoes the message I keep sending to my husband and sons ‘Holding you again could only do me good’.
It was Noel Coward in his play Private Lives who came up with the line, ‘Strange how potent cheap music is’. Potent, indeed, and in Carole’s case deeply comforting. I can’t thank her enough.
The lockdown TV I can’t resist
Jenni revealed she has been grabbed by foreign language drama Resistance (pictured)
I’ve read books, I’ve done the shopping, I’ve walked the dogs and, as so many of us have, I’ve watched far too much television.
One televisual discovery has been a revelation. Walter Presents, on All 4, has a series of impressive foreign language dramas, and I was grabbed by Resistance.
It’s set in the 1940s during the German occupation of France and is based on a true story about a group of young people in Paris who form a group to resist the Nazis. What they went through in both Paris and Lyon was horrific. Some were captured and faced the terror of Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo interrogator.
I couldn’t help but compare their time with ours. We’ve had a year of fear of the virus and a terrible death toll. For them, it went on for four years and there is no vaccination against a vicious, occupying force.
Sex talk we must have with young men
How encouraging to read of two young men, Angus Barge, 30, and Xander Gilbert, 31, who dared to ask each other, ‘Can you get it up?’, found they sometimes couldn’t, discovered 50 per cent of men under the age of 50 are estimated to have suffered from erectile dysfunction and are determined to do something about it.
Pornography and the pressure to perform are clearly a factor in this problem and beginning to talk about it can only be a help.
Advice from a woman? It doesn’t have to be a bang- bang performance. There are many ways to give and receive pleasure. Think about it.
My sadness for Claudia’s heroic father
It was very sad to hear this week of the death of Peter Lawrence, a man to whom I had spoken often over the past 12 years as he tried to keep the investigation into the disappearance of his daughter, Claudia, alive.
Like the parents of Suzy Lamplugh, whose daughter also disappeared, he was never to discover her fate, but worked so hard to help others. The Lamplughs founded the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to give training in personal safety. Mr Lawrence helped shape the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017, known as Claudia’s Law.
What I’m sure both sets of parents found most galling were lurid speculations about the private lives of both Suzy and Claudia.
To suggest that two young women had somehow asked to be murdered because of the company they kept is misogyny of the worst kind.
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