Louise Goffin talks famous parents and finding her own place in the music world


The daughter of legendary songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Louise Goffin spent her childhood and adolescence in Laurel Canyon, the epicenter of the L.A. music scene in the late ’60s and ’70s.

Her live debut came when she was 17, opening up for Jackson Browne in 1977 at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. Her first album “Kid Blue” arrived on the major label Elektra/Asylum in 1979 before she’d even turned 20.

Yet while those early memories used to remind Goffin more of struggle and difficulty than of ease, in recent years and on albums such as the brand-new “Two Different Movies,” the now 60-year-old performer has confidently and joyfully followed her own distinct muse.

“Laurel Canyon, mother, growing up the way I did: All of that used to be a big burden for me,” she says recently by phone from her Los Angeles home. “All of it. It was just like everywhere I looked, you know, people were making records and writing songs at a level that just seemed so out of reach to me.”

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“The perception was, ‘Well, you’re born into it, so therefore you’re already there. You don’t have to get there,’” says Goffin. “But in terms of artistry and confidence, having a sound and knowing my voice and point of view and all that, I had my own standards of excellence and it just seemed like I had so much to learn.

“I was always very hard on myself, like, ‘You’ve got to write better lyrics, you’ve got to write better songs,” she says. “I was very, very driven. Still am quite a bit.”

A creative renewal

“Two Different Movies” marks the latest release for Goffin in a creative resurgence over the past decade, a period that began when she produced “A Holiday Carole,” her mother’s 2011 Grammy-nominated traditional pop album.

“I just had this ‘a-ha’ moment, like, ‘Why am I not doing this for myself, as well?’” says Goffin who prior to King’s album had released a single solo album in the previous decade. “If I have these skills, why am I not doing that for myself with all the songs that I have?”

So she did, booking a studio and musicians to make 2014’s “Songs From The Mine,” which was followed over the next two years by an EP of songs written by her father, Gerry Goffin, who died that same year, and a compilation album of new and old songs from across her career.

“Then I had this opportunity to go in and record 24 songs,” Goffin says of the 2016 sessions that led to both 2018’s “All These Hellos” and the new “Two Different Movies.” “An investor, who was a super fan, said, ‘Go make the record of your dreams.’”

“I wanted to put them out separately so that they could be digested and tell different stories, and not inundate the short attention span of people today with, ‘Hey, I’m putting out my gatefold triple record,” which honestly, I really wanted to do,” she says.

As for the period of silence in her career — no releases in the ’90s and only two albums in each decads on either side of that — Goffin expresses mild frustration with those who would judge her by what she hasn’t done instead of what she has.

“There was one snarky journalist who said something like, ‘Yeah, you know in her long career she’s only put out 10 records,’” she says. “It seems like the most random, wrong thing to focus on.”

Much of her time away from the recording studio was spent at home with her family — now ex-husband Greg Wells, whose career was taking off, and their two sons.

“I was raising two little boys, so suddenly it’s like no one cares about you being a rock star — they are the new rock stars,” she says, laughing. “They’re the ones like, ‘No, I don’t want any brown M&Ms!’

“Life informs your work, you know, so you have to live life in order to have anything worthy of sharing about life.”

Studio sessions

For the sessions that resulted in “Two Different Movies” and its predecessor, Goffin enlisted producer Dave Way, who’s worked on albums by Fiona Apple, John Doe, Macy Gray and more.

A who’s who of musicians from Los Angeles to London, many of them friends, helped out too, players with long associations with Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello and World Party.

“Most of my life I was around musicians and intimidated by them,” Goffin says. “But the truth is that I’m very much like my mom when it comes to leading musicians. I speak their language. I’m a multi-instrumentalist.

“The best musicians don’t come in with a lot of ego,” she says, but they are paying attention. “If they’re working with an artist who starts getting all diva on them, they will definitely take notes.

“But treat musicians with the respect they deserve and they love to be there,” Goffin says. “There were pinch-me moments for sure, but I think I’ve earned it at this point, to be in a room with them.”

“Two Different Movies” delivers strong melodic rock in a variety of genres, from the New Orleans-esque vibe of album opener “Simple Life” which features Heartbreakers’ keyboardist Benmont Tench to the crunchy glam rock of “Heart Attack” written with her longtime collaborator Billy Harvey and the lovely sweeping sounds of “Oh My God,” for which arranger Van Dyke Parks conducted a 25-person orchestra.

Conducted it, we’ll note, only after Goffin’s last-minute completion of lyrics as the clock to the session ticked down.

“It was a lot of pressure and I kept saying to myself, ‘You know better, don’t ever do this to yourself,’” Goffin says, laughing. “It’s the hardest way to write a song, if you have a production or orchestra or record cut. It’s like you have the frame on the canvas before you’ve painted all the colors on you, and the frame is looking at you like, ‘It has to be good enough to fit into my framing, you know.’

“I mean, someone like my dad, that’s all he did,” she says of her lyricist father. “He was given music and melody all the time and had to fit the lyrics like a crossword puzzle into the melody.

“I’m proud of myself that I didn’t rush it and go, ‘Oh, here it is; it’s the best I could do,’” she says. “These can’t be the words if I don’t believe what I’m saying. I have to believe what I’m saying, and eventually, I got there.”

Peace with the past

Forty years on, long gone from the house on Appian Way in Laurel Canyon where she grew up, Goffin seems comfortable with where her life and career have taken her.

“I actually said to someone recently, ‘How come Laurel Canyon’s suddenly become a thing?’” she says. “Like it became a thing even before (the documentary) ‘Echo In The Canyon.’ Suddenly it got this mythical thing about it.

“For me, it was where I grew up,” Goffin says. “It’s where my dad had three different bachelor pads, where the school bus picked me up. It’s where a whole bunch of stuff happened in my childhood.

“And I didn’t see it as mythical then, like, ‘Oh, this is a magical place.’ I saw it as a kind of terrifying place where there were crazy people, you know, and crazy rock stars and predatory rock stars when I was hanging out with a bunch of teenage girls.”

There’s a nod to the music associated with Laurel Canyon not only in some of the songs on her new album but in its album art: A sketch that Joni Mitchell, the ultimate lady of the canyon, drew of Goffin in 1971 when she was an 11-year-old girl in Scotland on a tour co-headlined by James Taylor and her mother after the release of King’s iconic album “Tapestry.”

“I just one morning felt wait a minute, this could be the cover of my record,” Goffin says of the sketch she’s kept ever since Mitchell tore it out of her pad and gave it to her. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. Sometimes I’m not so comfortable bragging, you know, like, ‘Oh, Joni Mitchell drew my picture.’

“She gave it to me, but I didn’t use it without asking,” she says, adding that Mitchell’s people relayed her approval almost immediately on inquiring. “I love how simple it is. It was a beautiful work of art, so I just love it.”

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Tags: Music, London, Scotland, Los Angeles, Sport, Things To Do, Soccer, New Orleans, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Mitchell, Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Jackson Browne, Goffin, Dana Point, Van Dyke Parks, Greg Wells, Carole, Dave Way, Laurel Canyon, Appian Way, Benmont Tench, Louise Goffin, Music + Concerts, Gerry Goffin Louise Goffin, Elektra Asylum, Fiona Apple John Doe Macy Gray, Tom Petty Lucinda Williams Elvis Costello, Billy Harvey

Source:  https://www.dailynews.com/2020/06/30/louise-goffin-talks-famous-parents-and-finding-her-own-place-in-the-music-world/



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