Louise Goffin Finds Her Own Sound On New Album, ‘Two Different Movies’

Louise is the daughter of songwriting legends Carole King and Gerry Goffin.

Louise Goffin Finds Her Own Sound On New Album, ‘Two Different Movies’
Louise Goffin; Photo credit: Amanda Bjorn

Even when your parents are legendary songwriters, there isn’t a shortcut to finding your own voice. Just ask Louise Goffin. With her 10th album, Two Different Movies, the singer/songwriter/producer has channeled a lifetime of experience into her own brand of earthy, literate folk-influenced pop and the result is an engaging collection that finds an artist at the peak of her powers.

“The guy who invested in my records said the reason he wanted me to be in the studio said I was like a lost Beatle. I’d say a lost Beatle meets Laurel Canyon meets Chrissie Hynde,” Goffin tells Sounds Like Nashville in trying to describe her unique style.

“I’ve been the most productive that I’ve ever been in the last seven or eight years because I would always put life before music and I took time off to raise my kids,” says the mother of two sons, who resides in California. “I was very driven to be the best that I could be as a songwriter and as a singer and as a record maker. I wasn’t so much into fame and fortune, although I was very lucky and got lots of record deals but things would always move too slowly for me. With every aspect of it, there’d be someone’s opinion projected onto me. What I should look like. What I should wear. What the artwork should be? Who is producing it? What key the songs were in? Should I be rock? When you are young, it’s just fun, but later you realize that those fun experimental decisions that you make, they start to define you.”

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The cover for my new album “Two Different Movies” is a sketch the great Joni Mitchell drew of me when I was eleven years old, and given to me on the spot, backstage in a locker room at a Carole King, James Taylor and Jo Mama show in Scotland. She signed it on the back in pencil, “Joan Mitchell”. Joni was one of the most influential and inspired songwriters both personally for me in my teenage years and whose work influenced a lineage of singer-songwriters who wouldn’t have existed without her.⁠ .⁠ .⁠ Her records were a big part of the soundtrack to the movie of my teenage hood, growing up in Laurel Canyon. I treasured this drawing throughout my life.⁠ .⁠ .⁠ When I had the idea to use this sketch as the cover of my album, I wanted to do it with Joni’s blessings. I reached out to her people and in no less than a week got a response back, “Joni thinks it’ll make a great record cover.”⁠ .⁠ .⁠ Thank you, Joni.⁠ .⁠ .⁠ Order Two Different Movies on vinyl at the link in bio.⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #twodifferentmovies #jonimitchell #musicstory #newalbum #albumcover #singersongwriter #singersongwriterproducer #louisegoffin #gilmoregirls #gilmoregirlstheme #songwriterlife #musician #musicianlife #musicianlifestyle #independentmusician #indiemusician #independentartist #indieartist #majorityofone

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As the daughter of songwriting legends Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Louise grew up surrounded by music, but admits it took her some time to hone in on her own sound. “It’s really been a journey,” she shares. “I always knew what I loved, but I really didn’t know how to make it real. I didn’t know how to make the records or have the sounds or do things the way I love them, but today the biggest thing that changed is if you were to sit in a room with me when I was starting and hear me play, you wouldn’t get the same person on the record. But now I really feel like the same person, like who you get if you are sitting with me in the living room and I’m playing you a song, you’re still going to get that on record. The record is going to be of course arranged and produced, but it’s going to sound like the same authentic person talking to you.”

From the earnest longing of the album’s opening track “Simple Life” to the soulful “The Heart is the Last Frontier” and the tender ballad “A Safe Place to Land,” Goffin delivers an engaging 10-song collection with cover art drawn by Joni Mitchell. She attributes much of her growth as a recording artist to a sojourn to London years ago when working on her third record and also spending six months in Nashville attending the Blackbird Academy last summer. “I had other reasons for [going to] London,” Goffin explains, “which was really to find myself because when you grow up in an area, and people know your parents, and they see you from a little kid and then all of a sudden you are older and have a record deal, it’s like there’s not really new ground to discover. You are kind of in your own sandbox. When I went to England, I just felt like it was all mine. I just felt like this is just a new sandbox and I can experiment and be who I want to be, but it took me a while to realize that where I’d come from was where the shit was. That’s where the great musicians were and again I found that out when I went to New York to cut another song.”

Goffin wound up at The Blackbird Academy, a Nashville school that is affiliated with Blackbird Studio and offers programs in studio and live sound engineering. Her older son had graduated from Blackbird and had been helping his mom in her LA studio.  Last summer she had enrolled her youngest son in a week long camp. “My son’s teacher said I was welcome to sit in on the class so I was sitting in and I was just loving every minute. I thought maybe I can enroll,” says Goffin, who wound up taking the comprehensive six-month course.

“I knew a lot about production just from my experiences in life,” she continues. “I learned everything from familiarity with microphones and compressors, EQ and consoles. It was super, super, super technical. We also talked about arrangements, but mostly what I got out of it was a lot of technical things that I kind of half knew, but [after the Academy] it really took away my intimidation when I need to troubleshoot anything. I used to have to call someone, and say, ‘This isn’t working. What do I do?’ And now I kind of enjoy those moments because I just take it really slow and go, ‘Oh there’s a reason why this isn’t working. Let’s find out what it is. Let’s start at the beginning. Is this connection working?’ It gave me so much confidence and aside from that, I loved Nashville. The community is amazing. So much about it was an incredible experience and I’m so grateful I did it.”

Goffin launched The Goffin & King Foundation, which offers retreats, educational opportunities, contests, masterclasses and peer-to-peer community for songwriters and she held their first retreat in Nashville. “We did the very first Goffin & King Foundation Songwriters Retreat at the Thistletop Inn, which is an award winning place. It’s in Goodlettsville actually. It’s a beautiful place,” she says of the inn just north of Nashville.  “I had a songwriter drive in from Chicago, one flew in from LA, mostly people were from Nashville. There was a combination of Grammy winning songwriters, and there were a lot of students, a bunch of Belmont songwriting course students. People from my class at Blackbird helped. They volunteered to record sound and set up, and one of the people in my class is still working with the Goffin & King Foundation. He’s just been amazing and we met in my Blackbird class.”

In addition to writing, recording and working with the Goffin & King Foundation, she also hosts Song Chronicles, a podcast created to preserve the art of songwriting. JD Souther, Sam Hollander and Desmond Child have been among her recent guests.

Of course, Goffin’s parents are responsible for some of pop music’s greatest classics such as The Shirelles “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” Bobby Vee’s “Take Good Care of My Baby” and Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion.” King also had an extremely successful career after the couple’s divorce with such iconic hits as “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move.” The hit Broadway play “Beautiful” spotlighted her life and career.

Goffin’s parents greatly shaped her life and view of the world. “My dad is gone, but my parents were always intellectuals, so I am quite cerebral at times or can be,” she says. “They are both humanitarians. They were working class people. By the time I was 11 my mother was a big successful artist, so we had a big lifestyle jump from a little rented house in Laurel Canyon to a two-story Spanish house in Laurel Canyon, but still my parents were both Brooklyn working class people and their values were New York working class. They didn’t like elitism in any way. They both hated it.”

Goffin said she had to convince her mother to send her to a private school when she was in 11th grade. “She was like, ‘No you take the bus. Go to the Hollywood schools where everyone is going,’ but I felt like I was just surrounded by too many gangs and drugs and security issues to actually feed my hunger for learning,” Goffin recalls. “The last two years I moved to Oakwood. It’s not little anymore, but it was a little tiny school in North Hollywood with a great curriculum, kind of a college level curriculum. Those two years also really shaped who I have become because I was just exposed to great books, art and history, social studies, drama. It was just an amazing education and just for those two little years, it kind of changed my life.”

Goffin remains close to her mother. “We talk about politics and struggle with some of the same things on how to help,” she notes.

Before his passing in 2014, Goffin co-wrote songs she’s proud of with her dad. “I have written a couple great songs with my dad, I mean great songs,” she says. “There’s a great song called ‘I’m Not Rich, But I’m Not Poor,’ which is on my record Appleonfire. There’s another song that I haven’t released that’s fantastic. It’s super jazzy. There’s a real loving song on my second record. It’s a sad song. My dad’s lyrics were often sad, but he was kind of a glum guy. It’s a beautiful song called ‘Baby, Come ’Round To Me.’” As for writing with her mother, Goffin says, “We’ve only written a couple times. You don’t need anyone else in the room if my mother is writing. Her way of doing things is very different than my way. Every song is a process for me. I listen to the song and feel like, ‘Where does it want me to go?’ It’s this dialogue I have with the song and with her, she’s just very driven to, ‘Oh it’s got to go here. It should modulate here.’ She’s kind of faster at it, so we’ve written a couple of songs, but I don’t think as co-writers it was ever us at our best.”