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Smackwater Jack (song)

For the Quincy Jones album, see Smackwater Jack.
"Smackwater Jack"
File:Smackwater Jack single label.jpeg
Single by Carole King
from the album Tapestry
A-side "So Far Away"
Released March 1971
Recorded January 1971 at A&M Recording Studios
Genre Folk rock, soft rock
Length 3:39
Label Ode Records
A&M Records
Producer(s) Lou Adler
Carole King singles chronology

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"Smackwater Jack" is a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. It was first released on King's 1971 album Tapestry and then on the second single from that album, along with "So Far Away," charting at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was subsequently covered by many artists, most famously by Quincy Jones as the title song of his 1971 album Smackwater Jack.

Rolling Stone Magazine critic Jon Landau described "Smackwater Jack" as an "uptempo shuffle."[1] The lyrics tell the story of an Old West confrontation between the outlaw Smackwater Jack and Big Jim the Chief.[2][3] In that way it differs from the other songs on Tapestry, which are more personal and based on expressing emotions.[2][3] But author James Perone claims that it still fits into the album by being the one song on which King's piano blends in with the other instruments on the song.[3] Perone regards Danny Kortchmar's electric guitar and Ralph Schuckett's electric piano as the most prominent instruments on the song.[3] But Landau showers most praise on Charlie Larkey's bass guitar and Joel O'Brien's drums.[1]

Landau regards "Smackwater Jack" as a good example of the effectiveness of Goffin's and King's songwriting partnership.[1] He regards Goffin as providing "brilliant and far-ranging" lyrics, while King "is subtly embellishing the musical form itself."[1] Allmusic critic Stewart Mason agrees that the song has "dry wit and several clever lines."[2] Mason described the song as a "fan-favorite," but also regards it as a "rather lightweight song."[2]

Billboard ranked both sides of the "So Far Away"/"Smackwater Jack" single together on the Billboard Hot 100.[4] The single peaked at Number 14.[4][5]

Cover versions

Quincy Jones covered "Smackwater Jack" as the title track of his 1971 album Smackwater Jack.[6] Allmusic critic Thom Jurek described it as being in a "taut, funky soul style.[6] Jurek described Grady Tate's drum breaks as "funky," Arthur Adams' guitar playing as "tough street guitar" and Chuck Rainey's bass guitar as "popping and bubbling under the entire mix."[6]

The Manhattan Transfer covered "Smackwater Jack" for the 1995 album Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King.[7] Buffy Sainte-Marie covered it on her 1971 album She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina, on which she was accompanied only by her own piano playing.[8] Bob Belden covered it on his 1997 album Tapestry.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Landau, J. (April 29, 1971). "Tapestry". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d Mason, S. "Smackwater Jack". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d Perone, J.E. (2006). The Words and Music of Carole King. Praeger. p. 38. ISBN 0275990273. 
  4. ^ a b "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard Magazine. October 16, 1971. p. 56. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  5. ^ "Carole King Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  6. ^ a b c Jurek, T. "Smackwater Jack". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  7. ^ Ruhlmann, W. "Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  8. ^ Ruhlmann, W. "She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  9. ^ Ginell, R.S. "Tapestry". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 

External links