An Interview with Carole King
Carole King, one of the most beloved, iconic singer-songwriters of our time, is also a yogi. Her generous heart and spirit helped transform Yogaville from a dream held by Sri Gurudev into a reality. Her first holiday album, A Holiday Carole, now available, and her new memoir, A Natural Woman, out in April 2012, are only a few of her creative expressions. In this interview Karuna, as Sri Gurudev called her, shared the inspiration for her creative process and yogic lifestyle.
Integral Yoga Magazine (IYM): What is your creative process?
Carole Karuna King (CK): I bring the skills that I’ve acquired to a creative project but once I get there, I find I do my best work when I step aside, get out of the way and let the higher power—by whatever name—do its thing. That’s the essence of it for me. Sometimes I do have something to express and then I write a song to express myself, but more often than not, I’m an instrument expressing through my musical ability something that I feel a higher power wants me to express. That’s the magic—it happens, it comes through you.
IYM: As a musician you often work with others. How do you harmonize a creative vision and bring a project to fruition?
CK: If you come into the workplace and everybody is yelling at each other and you’re the only person who’s sort of being quiet, you can make your opinion known in a way that touches the other people and your project will get done. That’s the application of Yoga to life. It doesn’t always work but, if you bring that spirit within you that represents the God that you identify with, it will serve you and the project. I’ll give you an example. I took very much to heart what Gurudev said about Karma Yoga being selfless action and everything we do is a service, if we do it with the spirit of service—whether you are sweeping the kitchen or cooking or recording an album. Suppose you are walking down the street and someone bumps into you. Imagine that instead of snarling you say, “Excuse me” or “I’m sorry” or whatever, but that you have that understanding that they probably didn’t mean to bump into you. You don’t have to be blind to the fact that there are really bad people in the world who do really bad things, but you can try to not take that into yourself as you go through your day. That is living Yoga, and that’s what I do in working with others and it’s what I try to do in every aspect of my life.
IYM: In addition to spending time in Los Angeles, you also have a home in Idaho. Has that been an important part of keeping balanced in a challenging industry?
CK: Yes, having a rural community as my home base grounded me in a level of peace and harmony that is harder to find—possible to find, but more difficult—when you are living, with many more people than the environment should have. We’re all crowded into cities now because that’s where the work is. I don’t want to disrespect the city because the city has its own ways of teaching you peace and harmony with all the sensory overload and with the very fact that many people are competing fiercely for a parking space at the supermarket or for food. It teaches you to find your peace and harmony within all that. And, in my case, growing up in the city taught me to appreciate the environment in which I live now and see the need to protect it, because I think that sometimes the people who live there feel that they know best because they grew up there but they may not be seeing the ecosystem for the trees [laughs].
I’ve been working for 21 years to get a bill passed to protect the Northern Rockies ecosystem. We have a bill and we have some very dedicated supporters in Congress, most notably Carolyn Maloney, New York’s 14th District Congresswoman. She’s been steadfast in her support of this bill since 1993. We get a lot of co-sponsors but the bill is still not law and sometimes I turn to the higher power and say, “I’m doing this for You. You gotta help [laughs]!” And the word comes back from the higher power saying, “Patience. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep going. It will happen when it’s supposed to.” And I hear it sometimes in Gurudev’s voice [laughs]!