You've Got a Friend

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"You've Got a Friend"
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"
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 American singer-songwriter Carole King. It was first recorded by King and included on her second studio album, Tapestry (1971). 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 one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number four 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."[2] 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."[3][4] King's album was recorded in an overlap with Taylor's, and Taylor and Danny Kortchmar perform on both versions of the song. 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".[5]

Taylor's version was released as a single, and reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and his only song to reach that position on that chart) and number 4 on the UK Singles Chart. The James Taylor version also spent one week at the top of the Easy Listening charts.[6] Billboard ranked it as the No. 16 song for 1971.

Taylor's Apple Records labelmate Mary Hopkin has said that he gave her a chance to record the song, which she turned down, a decision she later regretted.[7][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.[8] King performed the song at the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.[9]


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."[10] The "reassuring" lyrics have long made the song popular with lonely people needing a boost of self-confidence.[11][12] The song's messages of friendship having no boundaries and a friend being there when you are in need have universal appeal.[13] For Taylor the lyrics had particular resonance due to the depression he had recovered from shortly before hearing King play the song.[11] The music moves between a major and minor key, which according to music critic Maury Dean gives the song a "sympathetic mood."[13]

In his review of Tapestry, Rolling Stone critic Jon Landau called "You've Got a Friend" Carole King's "most perfect new song."[14] He particularly praised how the melody and lyrics support each other, and the "gorgeous, righteous rock melody" of the ending lyrics.[14] Mojo considered the song to probably be "the core of Tapestry.[2] Allmusic critic Stewart Mason commented on the "plainspoken intimacy" of King's performance.[15] Mason finds that the "shyness" of King's voice gives her recording of the song a sincerity that he finds Taylor's to lack.[15] Mason also praises the "depth and shading" provided by the string instruments on King's recording.[15]

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.[16] Music critic Maury Dean described Taylor's performance style for the song as minimalist and folkish and comments on his "star-spangled sincerity."[13] Cash Box praised the "tasty material and Taylor's stunning interpretation."[17] Record World said that "there's no way [Taylor] can miss with this gem."[18]



James Taylor version[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[33] Silver 200,000
United States (RIAA)[34] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Carole King version[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[35] Gold 500,000

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"
Single by the Brand New Heavies
from the album Shelter
ReleasedOctober 6, 1997 (1997-10-06)[37]
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 covered by British acid jazz and funk group the Brand New Heavies for their fourth album, Shelter (1997), and released as the third single from the album in October 1997. It reached number nine on the UK Singles Chart and number 13 in Scotland in October 1997.[38] The song also peaked within the top 10 in Hungary and was a top 30 hit in Ireland. The group performed the song on the music chart television program Top of the Pops.

Critical reception[edit]

Scottish Daily Record felt that here, "[the] London's soul funk band are back on form".[39] A reviewer from Music Week gave it four out of five, declaring it as "a soulful cover", that "should have their usual specialist impact as well as crossover success."[40] An editor, Alan Jones, stated, "Recruiting Siedah Garrett has given the Brand New Heavies a new lease of life."[41] Daisy & Havoc from the RM Dance Update named it "one of the best tracks on the recent BNH album (which either says something about their songwriting or our age), and now it appears with the compulsory remixes."[42]

Track listings[edit]

  • CD single, UK and 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 and 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)[43] 24
Germany (Official German Charts)[44] 77
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[45] 79
Hungary (Mahasz)[46] 7
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[47] 32
Ireland (IRMA)[48] 25
Scotland (OCC)[49] 13
UK Singles (OCC)[50] 9

McFly version[edit]

"You've Got a Friend"
Single by McFly
from the album Wonderland
A-side"All About You"
B-side"Room on the 3rd Floor"
ReleasedMarch 7, 2005 (2005-03-07)[51]
Songwriter(s)Carole King
Producer(s)Hugh Padgham
McFly singles chronology
"Room on the 3rd Floor"
"All About You" / "You've Got a Friend"
"I'll Be OK"

In 2005, English pop rock band McFly released their version of the song as a double A-side single along with their original song "All About You". The band's first double A-side single, it was released on March 7, 2005, as the lead single from their second studio album, Wonderland (2005). The single was the official Comic Relief charity single for 2005, with all royalties being donated to the charity. The single was also used to promote Make Poverty History.

The single peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart as well as in Ireland. Having sold over 536,000 copies in the UK, "All About You"/"You've Got a Friend" is McFly's best-selling single[52] and received a platinum sales status certification from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales and streams exceeding 600,000 units.

Chart performance[edit]

The single debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart, giving McFly their third UK number-one single, as well as their fifth top-five hit in less than a year.[53] It debuted at number one, only to be knocked off the top spot the following week by the unofficial Comic Relief single "Is This the Way to Amarillo", by Tony Christie and (mimed by) Peter Kay.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "You've Got a Friend" was shot on location in Uganda. The band spent a week there in January 2005 for Comic Relief. The video sees McFly with the children of Uganda, playing with them, performing for them, and teaching them to sing. Towards the end of the video, McFly's vocals are removed for a chorus sung by the children.

Track listing[edit]

UK CD single[54]

  1. "All About You"
  2. "You've Got a Friend"
  3. "Room on the 3rd Floor"
  4. "All About You" (orchestral version)
  5. "All About You" (video)



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[62] Platinum 536,000[52]

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 (and two other songs from Tapestry) appear on Barbra Streisand's 1971 album Barbra Joan Streisand.

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 No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 8 on the R&B chart.[63]

The 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 recorded 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.[64] Vannary's rendition is featured in the soundtrack to the 2015 documentary film Don't Think I've Forgotten.[65]

"You've Got a Friend" was performed by Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan and Carole King at the VH1 Divas Live concert at the Beacon Theatre, New York, in 1998. It was released as a promotional single in selected countries, reaching number 74 on the Belgian Flanders Airplay Chart on December 15, 1998.[66]

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.[citation needed]

Filipina singer, Sarah Geronimo together with her dad, Delfin Geronimo did a cover of this song from her 2013 album, Expressions.

A country rendition of the song was released by Lynn Anderson on her 1971 studio album How Can I Unlove You.


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