Thursday Inspiration #117 I Feel the Earth Move

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word sky, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘I Feel the Earth Move’, or by going with another song by Carole King, or anything else that you think fits.  In April 1971, Carole King released ‘I Feel the Earth Move’, which was a double A-side record with ‘It’s Too Late’ for her second solo album Tapestry, she wasn’t even 30 years old yet and she had already penned some of the biggest hit songs of the ‘60s.  Tapestry sold 25 million copies and critics hailed Carole as a great singer-songwriter.  This became an enormous hit for Carole King, one that was unexpected, as her first album, Writer, was barely noticed.

On Tapestry Carole King played keyboards and sang lead vocal backed by Joel O’Brien on drums, Charles Larkey playing electric bass and Danny Kootch on electric guitar.  Joni Mitchell was in the studio next door working on her Blue album when Carole King was recording Tapestry.  Carole noticed that Mitchell’s studio had a red Steinway that King thought sounded special, so when Mitchell vacated King’s band had three hours in the room, and that was where they recorded ‘I Feel the Earth Move’, so Carole could be on that piano.  This rollicking song was the first song on the first side of this album and it was intended to get people up and dancing.

This song was thought to carry a sexual innuendo about a female orgasm, a double entendre sexual interpretation of otherwise innocent lyrics, that reflected where King was in her life at this time and it also fit in with the expansion of women’s liberation in America.  ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ is sung to a lover who makes King’s heart tremble, as she cries, “Oh, baby, I can’t stand it”, and her romantic interest causes her to lose control, down to her very soul, and she gets hot as well as cold all over.  The fast tempo allows the listener to feel the singer’s excitement over being near her lover, and these lyrics express sexual tension even though that tension is left unspoken.  The piano provides the crashes while King’s voice strains against its limits, rolling with the melody, evoking a sense of physical reaction.  This pulsing, rhythmic arrangement about elevating love that gets a person’s soul racing in multiple good ways, incorporates elements of doo-wop and contemporary a cappella beneath a barn-burning solo.  The earthquake metaphor can be seen as King’s coming out, opening her album with confidence and setting the stage for a new sound.

Most women describe their orgasms as being like fireworks and since they are subjective experiences, a universal definition for an orgasm can’t be agreed upon, although most people consider climaxing to be a pleasurable encounter.  The mechanisms that trigger female orgasms are still unclear, even though popular culture typically portrays women achieving effortless, earth-shattering orgasms with every sexual encounter.  Some women will squeal, and scream, feeling earth-shattering explosions, which could be embarrassing making them feel uncomfortable.  If the earth does move for them, this is an honest exploration of female sexuality that should be admired.  Tapestry connected with a huge number of listeners and a lot of them were women.

‘I Feel the Earth Move’ was released as a single in April, two months after Tapestry arrived.  The song, along with its flip side ‘It’s Too Late’, went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June, where it remained for five weeks.  King’s record label Ode Records and producer by Lou Adler selected this as the A-side for the album’s first single.  However, after a few weeks of continuous airplay many DJs began to play the slower, lamenting B-side ‘It’s Too Late’, and not long after ‘It’s Too Late’, ended up topping the charts.  Cash Box singles chart, tracked the progress of both sides of a single separately, but Billboard declared the record to be a double A-side so both songs are listed as having reached #1 on the Hot 100 chart.  Together these two songs were named by the RIAA as #213 out of 365 Songs of the Century.

In 1988, the Cuban-American singer Martika covered ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ and it rose to #25 on the singles chart.  DJ’s stopped playing it on the radio following the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 that occurred on the central coast of California, feeling that it was insensitive to air a love song in the aftermath of an earthquake that claimed the lives of 63 people and left almost 4,000 others injured.  Carole King has become one of the most successful singers of the 20th Century, with more than 30 solo albums released, a slew of singles and numerous Grammy Awards.

I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumblin’ down
I feel my heart start to tremblin’
Whenever you’re around

15 thoughts on “Thursday Inspiration #117 I Feel the Earth Move

  1. I’m glad you mentioned this ridiculous popular culture myth, Jim. NOT that it matters to me now, as I’ve quit dating, but I noticed a definite trend of men thinking that women should behave like the actresses in porn vids. This is because they hadn’t been with real women in a long time and forgot that porn isn’t real. I am thinking of lots of options for “sky,” maybe the Jackson Browne song…

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    1. The Earth moving may have nothing to do with an orgasm, but many people feel that it does, so I thought I would write about it. To me this song is about a woman that loves the man she is with. Late For the Sky is a lovely song.

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