You've Got a Friend

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"You've Got a Friend"
You've Got a Friend Carole King label.jpeg
Scandinavian single with "Beautiful" on the B-side
Single by Carole King
from the album Tapestry
GenreSoft rock
Songwriter(s)Carole King
Producer(s)Lou Adler
Official audio
"You've Got a Friend" on YouTube
"You've Got a Friend"
James Taylor You've Got a Friend.jpg
Single by James Taylor
from the album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon
B-side"You Can Close Your Eyes"
ReleasedMay 1971
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Carole King
Producer(s)Peter Asher
James Taylor singles chronology
"Country Road"
"You've Got a Friend"
"You Can Close Your Eyes"
Audio sample
"You've Got a Friend"

"You've Got a Friend" is a 1971 song written by Carole King. It was first recorded by King and included in her album Tapestry. Another well-known version is by James Taylor from his album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon. His was released as a single in 1971, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 4 on the UK Singles Chart. The two versions were recorded simultaneously in 1971 with shared musicians.

"You've Got a Friend" won Grammy Awards both for Taylor (Best Male Pop Vocal Performance) and King (Song of the Year). Dozens of other artists have recorded the song over the years, including Dusty Springfield, Michael Jackson, Anne Murray and Donny Hathaway.


James Taylor and Carole King at the 2010 Troubadour Reunion Tour

"You've Got a Friend" was written by Carole King during the January 1971 recording sessions for her own album Tapestry and James Taylor's album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon. King has stated that "the song was as close to pure inspiration as I've ever experienced. The song wrote itself. It was written by something outside myself, through me."[1] According to Taylor, King told him that the song was a response to a line in Taylor's earlier song "Fire and Rain" that "I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend."[2][3] King's album was recorded in an overlap with Taylor's, and King, Danny Kortchmar, and Joni Mitchell perform on both. The song is included on both albums; King said in a 1972 interview that she "didn't write it with James or anybody really specifically in mind. But when James heard it he really liked it and wanted to record it".[4]

Taylor's version was released as a single, and reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 4 on the UK Singles Chart. The James Taylor version also spent one week at the top of the Easy Listening charts.[5] Billboard ranked it as the No. 16 song for 1971.

During the recording process, Taylor also offered to his Apple Records labelmate Mary Hopkin a chance to record the song, which she turned down, a decision she later said she strongly regretted.[6][dubious ]

James Taylor and Carole King performed "You've Got a Friend" together in 2010 during their Troubadour Reunion Tour. In 2015, Taylor performed an acoustic rendition of the song at Hôtel de Ville, Paris, at the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo in tribute to the victims of the January 2015 Île-de-France attacks.[7]


According to author James D. Perone, the song's themes include an expression of "a universal, sisterly/brotherly, agape-type love of one human being for another, regardless of gender."[8] The "reassuring" lyrics have long made the song popular with lonely people needing a boost of self-confidence.[9][10] The song's messages of friendship having no boundaries and a friend being there when you are in need have universal appeal.[11] For Taylor the lyrics had particular resonance due to the depression he had recovered from shortly before hearing King play the song.[9] The music moves between a major and minor key, which according to music critic Maury Dean gives the song a "sympathetic mood."[11]

In his review of Tapestry, Rolling Stone critic Jon Landau called "You've Got a Friend" Carole King's "most perfect new song."[12] He particularly praised how the melody and lyrics support each other, and the "gorgeous, righteous rock melody" of the ending lyrics.[12] Mojo considered the song to probably be "the core of Tapestry.[1] Allmusic critic Stewart Mason commented on the "plainspoken intimacy" of King's performance.[13] Mason finds that the "shyness" of King's voice gives her recording of the song a sincerity that he finds Taylor's to lack.[13] Mason also praises the "depth and shading" provided by the string instruments on King's recording.[13]

In his review of Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, Rolling Stone critic Ben Gerson described "You've Got a Friend" as an "affirmative song," but suggested that James Taylor's version was too similar to Carole King's original version to have been worth including on his album.[14] Music critic Maury Dean describes Taylor's performance style for the song as minimalist and folkish and comments on his "star-spangled sincerity."[11] Cash Box praised the "tasty material and Taylor's stunning interpretation."[15]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[29] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[30] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


Carole King version[edit]


James Taylor version[edit]

Brand New Heavies version[edit]

"You've Got a Friend"
Brand New Heavies-You've Got a Friend.jpg
Single by The Brand New Heavies
from the album Shelter
Songwriter(s)Carole King
Producer(s)The Brand New Heavies
The Brand New Heavies singles chronology
"You Are the Universe"
"You've Got a Friend"
Music video
"You've Got a Friend" on YouTube

"You've Got a Friend" was recorded by British acid jazz and funk group the Brand New Heavies for their 'Shelter' album in 1997 and was the third single to be released from the album. It reached number 9 on the UK Singles Chart and number 13 in Scotland in October 1997.[32] The song also peaked within the top 10 in Hungary. The group performed the song on the music chart television programme Top of the Pops.

Critical reception[edit]

Daily Record stated that "London's soul funk band are back on form" on the track.[33]

Track listings[edit]

CD single, UK & Europe (1997)
  1. "You've Got A Friend" (Radio Version)
  2. "You Are The Universe" (Recorded Live At The Forum)
  3. "Midnight At The Oasis" (Recorded Live At The Forum)
  4. "Sometimes" (Recorded Live At The Forum)
CD single, UK & Europe (1997)
  1. "You've Got A Friend" (Radio Version) - 3:27
  2. "You've Got A Friend" (Brooklyn Funk R&B Mix) - 4:58
  3. "You've Got A Friend" (Ballistic Brothers Mix) - 5:00
  4. "You've Got A Friend" (Brooklyn Funk Club Mix) - 4:54
  5. "You've Got A Friend" (Tee's Club Mix) - 6:27
  6. "You've Got A Friend" (Original Mix) - 3:48


Chart (1997) Peak
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[34] 24
Germany (Official German Charts)[35] 77
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[36] 79
Hungary (Mahasz)[37] 7
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[38] 32
Ireland (IRMA)[39] 25
Scotland (OCC)[40] 13
UK Singles (OCC)[41] 9

Other versions[edit]

Dusty Springfield recorded the song in early 1971 during the sessions for her third Atlantic Records album Faithful. Her recording predates that of James Taylor, but it was shelved until 1999 when it was included as a bonus track on the 1999 Deluxe Edition of her first Atlantic album, the critically acclaimed Dusty in Memphis (which contained four Carole King compositions). Faithful went unreleased due to disputes between Springfield and Atlantic, but the sessions were eventually issued as a stand-alone album in 2015.

The song was recorded by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway for their 1972 album Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway and was released as the album's first single. The single was released a year before the album was and coincidentally was released on the same date as James Taylor's single: May 29, 1971. The Flack and Hathaway version reached #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #8 on the R&B chart.[42]

This song was also recorded by Aretha Franklin on three separate occasions. The first and best-known was on her 1972 live gospel performance Amazing Grace, as part of a medley with "Precious Lord, Take My Hand". In 1995 she covered the song again on Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute To Carole King alongside BeBe & CeCe Winans, and once in 2010 as a duet with Ronald Isley on his album Mr. I

In approximately 1973 or 1974, the song was covered by Cambodian singer Pou Vannary with the lyrics translated into Khmer.[43] Vannary's rendition is featured in the soundtrack to the 2015 documentary film Don't Think I've Forgotten.[44]

"You've Got a Friend" was performed by Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan, and Carole King at the VH1 Divas Live concert in Beacon Theatre, New York, in 1998.[45] It was released as a single and reached number 74 on the Belgian Flanders Airplay Chart.[46]

In 2005, British pop/rock band McFly's cover of this song charted at number one in the UK Singles Chart. This was released as a double-A side along with the band's song "All About You". This was also the official single for that year's Comic Relief event.[citation needed]

Yo La Tengo covered this song on their album Popular Songs.[citation needed]

The American TV series Glee used this song in a mashup with Alanis Morissette's You Learn for the season six episode "Jagged Little Tapestry", a tribute to both King's album Tapestry and Morisette's Jagged Little Pill. It was performed by Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera), Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris), Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz), Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron), and Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) with their almamater high school's glee club.[citation needed]

Sarah Geronimo with Daddy Delfin Geronimo covered the song from her 2013 album, Expressions.

Hip hop boy band Brockhampton, did a live cover of this from their concert film, Live From The Chapel.[47][citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Magazine, Various Mojo (November 2007). "Tapestry". The Mojo Collection (4th ed.). ISBN 9781847676436.
  2. ^ Greene, Andy (August 13, 2015). "James Taylor: My Life in 15 Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 23, 2021 – via James Taylor Official Site.
  3. ^ White, T. (August 4, 2015). "James Taylor Looks Back on His Classics". Easy 93.1 FM. Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  4. ^ Harvey Kubernik (2008). "Troubadours - Carole King's Monumental Tapestry Album | American Masters | PBS". Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 239.
  6. ^ Interview with Mary Hopkin, Record Collector nr. 108, August 1988
  7. ^ Megan Gibson (2015-01-16). "Watch James Taylor Sings "You've Got a Friend" with John Kerry". Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  8. ^ Perone, J.D. (2006). The Words and Music of Carole King. Greenwood Publishing. p. 40. ISBN 9780275990275.
  9. ^ a b Halperin, Ian (2003). Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Story. Citadel. pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-0806523484.
  10. ^ White, T. (2009). Long Ago and Far Away. Omnibus Press. p. 190. ISBN 9780857120069.
  11. ^ a b c Dean, M. (2003). Rock 'n' Roll Gold Rush. Algora. pp. 254–255. ISBN 0875862071.
  12. ^ a b Landau, J. (April 29, 1971). "Tapestry". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Mason, S. "You've Got a Friend". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  14. ^ Gerson, B. (June 24, 1971). "Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  15. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. June 5, 1971. p. 22. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 5333." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5362." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  19. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – You've Got a Friend". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  20. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – James Taylor" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  21. ^ "James Taylor – You've Got a Friend" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
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  25. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 8/07/71". Archived from the original on 2015-06-08. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  26. ^ "RPM 100 - Top Hits of '71". Archived from the original on 20 October 2012.
  27. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1971/Top 100 Songs of 1971".
  28. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1971". Archived from the original on 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  29. ^ "British single certifications – James Taylor – You've Got a Friend". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  30. ^ "American single certifications – James Taylor – You've Got a Friend". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  31. ^ ""Tapestry - release by Carole King"". MusicBrainz. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  32. ^ "Home Design ~ officialcharts".
  33. ^ "Chart Slot". Daily Record. 24 October 1997. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  34. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  35. ^ "The Brand New Heavies – You've Got A Friend" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  36. ^ "The Brand New Heavies – You've Got A Friend" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  37. ^ "Top 10 Hungary" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  38. ^ "Íslenski Listinn NR. 249 vikuna 27.11. - 4.12. 1997". Dagblaðið Vísir - Tónlist. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  39. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – The Brand New Heavies". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  40. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  41. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  42. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 206.
  43. ^ Scheck, Frank (22 April 2015). "'Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  44. ^ Pirozzi, John (director, producer), Andrew Pope (producer) (2015). Don't Think I've Forgotten (film) (in English and Khmer). Argot Pictures.
  45. ^ Glatzer, Jenna (2005). Céline Dion: For Keeps. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-7407-5559-5.
  46. ^ Jaspers, Sam (2006). Ultratop 1995-2005. Book & Media Publishing. ISBN 90-5720-232-8.
  47. ^ BROCKHAMPTON - YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND | Live From The Chapel, retrieved 2022-01-19