Creative Collaboration: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
The moment of creation is always interesting—even if it turns out to be somewhat less “magical” than imagined. Take Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” It’s a universal story, even a half-century later: the risk of intimacy too soon discounted—or discarded:
Tonight I’m yours completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight, the light of magic’s in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow?
Knowing Carole King began writing songs as a Queens teen, soon jumping into Manhattan’s burgeoning Brill Building scene, it’s easy to imagine her fighting back tears as she penned those lines the morning after a real-life scene played out in a darkened living room, or the backseat of a boyfriend’s borrowed car.
But one detail’s missing: She didn’t write those words. She wrote the music.
Once roughed out at her piano, she left a crude Norelco tape recording with a note for her husband/lyricist/chemist, Gerry Goffin, to “please write.” She was 18, eight months pregnant, and a part-time secretary downtown. Both felt an urgency to create hits and abandon their hum-drum day jobs.
Upon returning from his day job at a New Jersey chemical plant to find his young bride’s song, Goffin recognized immediately that the music was beyond anything Carole had previously written in their two short years of collaboration. In his own moment of inspiration, he dashed off the lyrics—admittedly biographical—but from his wife’s point of view.
A scant few months later, December, 1960, the Shirelles’ Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow topped the charts. (Carole King had begged to handle the string arrangements, then checked out a library book to learn how; she also played kettle drums on the session). Within days of the chart action, Brill Building kingpin Don Kirshner dropped off $10,000 each for King and her mate, advising Goffin to “hang up his chemist’s coat” for good.
Though they wrote many more hits, the marriage didn’t last. Still, the song that grew from that remote collaboration endures. Proof positive that—whether between spouses juggling work-shifts, or among creatives and clients across regions—the power of creative collaboration contains its own special magic.
Key facts confirmed/sourced from Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—and the Journey of a Generation Weller, Sheila, 2008, Atria.