Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Oldies - Oh Neil by Carole King

For some reason, there's a lot of conflicting information out there about Carole King. You'd think that wouldn't be the case, right? If you do a Google search and read about her on Wikipedia, you'll see what I mean. Was she born in Sheeps-head Brooklyn or Manhattan? Did she find the stage name King in a phone book? Did she join a vocal group at high school, or was she already working at the Brill Building as a songwriter when she was 16? Just how well did she know Paul Simon, and when did she first meet him? Was Gerry Goffin the guy who got her pregnant at age 17 or did she meet him in Queens College? Was she Neil Sedaka's boyfriend at Queens college AFTER her first kid was already two years old and she was married to Gerry Goffin? Was she forced to marry Gerry by her parents or did she really love him? What happened to him? Did she divorce him because of his failing mental health, or was there some other reason? I've read countless books, magazine articles, watched Biography channel shows, in addition to searching every corner of the Internet, and I still can't answer these questions with any degree of certainty. Maybe one day I'll stumble upon a source I can trust. Better yet, maybe one day I'll have the opportunity to ask Carole herself.

The most common story about this record is that Carole wrote it after she broke up with Neil Sedaka after being her boyfriend at Queens College. Supposedly, she was the inspiration for Oh Carol in the first place. Of course, she would have had to be attending Queens Collage at the age of just 17 because that's how old she was when this song was made. Neil Sedaka was 20 at the time. He was accepted at Julliard when he was only eight years old and attended that famous school on Saturdays. He went to Lincoln High School, which is where he and some friends put together The Tokens. Carole King went to James Madison High School. There's no mention anywhere of Neil Sedaka going to Queens College. Yikes!

No matter. It's a cute pair of songs from a very talented couple of Brill Building legends.

Here's the original hit, Oh! Carol by Neil Sedaka on RCA 7595 from 1959:

Here's the Answer song, Oh Neil by Carole King on ALpine 57 from 1959:

Oh! Carol was a #9 hit that stayed on the charts in the Fall of 1959 for 18 weeks. No doubt it made a lot of money. But Carol gets the last laugh. An original pressing of Neil's hit is worth about $15 today. But Carol's record can fetch as much as $500 in really good condition. I know, because I've already owned three of them and sold two for about that price.

You'll hear about 1000 Answer Songs on MusicMaster Oldies. So what was the question again?


  1. Carole did her thing at 1650 Broadway, NOT the Brill Building.

    1. Exactly. That's yet another discrepancy in the information that's available online! Of course, 1650 Broadway was the home of Aldon Publishing. It's come to be known as part of the "Brill Building" sound, even though it's clearly a separate location. The actual Brill Building is at 1619 Broadway. I talked about this in an earlier post: