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It's Too Late

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"It's Too Late" is a song from Carole King's 1971 album Tapestry. Toni Stern wrote the lyrics and King wrote the music. It was released as a single in April 1971 and reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. Sales were later certified Gold by the RIAA.


 [hide*1 Music and lyrics

Music and lyrics[edit]Edit

The lyrics describe the end of a loving relationship without assigning blame.[2] Music critic Dave Marsh noted the implicit feminism in the fact that the woman has left the man.[3] Marsh also remarked on the maturity of the theme.[3] Music critic Robert Christgau claimed that "if there's a truer song about breaking up than 'It's Too Late,' the world (or at least AM radio) isn't ready for it."[4] Marsh describes the melody as Tin Pan Alley and the arrangement as a cross between light jazz and "L.A. studio craftmanship."[3] Rolling Stone Magazine stated the King's "warm, earnest singing" on the song brought out the song's sadness.[5] According to author James Perone, the feeling of the song is enhanced by the instrumental work of Danny Kortchmar on guitar, Curtis Amy on saxophone and King on piano.[2] Kortchmar and Amy each have an instrumental solo.[2]

The sadness of the song is emphasized by the music being in a minor key.[6] Perone also notes several melodic techniques King uses in the song which helped make the song such a hit. She builds the melody out of syncopated rhythmic motifs which are modified and combined over the course of the song, in contrast to many songs in which the rhythmic phrases are simply repeated.[2] Perone also believes that she makes the melody easy to remember by establishing the highest note in the melody by repeating it several times before the melody descends to the tonic.[2] This establishes the highest and lowest notes in the listeners ear, aiding recognition.[2] An important element of the melody from an emotional standpoint is that rather than ending on the tonic, as most songs do to establish a final resolution, "It's Too Late" ends on themediant, which is related to the tonic but still leaves a sense of inconclusiveness.[2] This effectively contrasts with the lyrics, which imply that the singer has fully accepted the end of the relationship.[2]

The recording won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1972, and the song is included on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Cover versions[edit]Edit

The song has been covered by


"It's Too Late" has been featured in Hollywood films, including FandangoThe Lake House, and Invincible.

Awards and recognition[edit]Edit


Chart (1971)[12] Position
Billboard Hot 100 1
UK Singles Chart 6
Irish Singles Chart 8
Canadian Singles Chart 5
Year End Charts (US) 3

Gloria Estefan version[edit]Edit

"It's Too Late"
Single by Gloria Estefan
from the album Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me
Released June 1995
Format CD

Single CDMaxi single

Recorded 1993-1994
Genre Pop
Length 03:57
Label Epic
Gloria Estefan singles chronology
"Everlasting Love"


"It's Too Late"


"Cherchez La Femme"


"It's Too Late" was the third promotional (U.S.), and fourth overall single released by Gloria Estefan on her fourth studio album Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.

Formats and track listings[edit]Edit

U.S. CD Promo Single (ESK 77877)
  1. "It's Too Late" (Radio Mix)
  2. "It's Too Late" (Album Version)
  3. "It's Too Late" (Piano Mix)
Australia CD Maxi Single (662020 2)
  1. "It's Too Late" (Radio Mix)
  2. "It's Too Late" (Album Version)
  3. "It's Too Late" (Piano Mix)
  4. "Cherchez La Femme" (Doom Dub)
  5. "Cherchez La Femme" (Piano Mix)


Chart (1995) Peak


Australia Top Singles Chart 56

Official versions[edit]Edit

Original versions
  1. Album Version — 3:57
  1. Piano Mix - 3:38
  2. Radio Mix - 3:19

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