The history of the “You’ve Got a Friend” song began when Carole King wrote the lyrics in 1971. King stated the song is a response to James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” song, which contains a chorus about lonely times when not having a friend. King released “You’ve Got a Friend” in her album, “Tapestry,” and later became covered and released by Taylor.
Taylor claims he wanted to play the song as soon as he heard it and recorded it while already being in the studio for a session. He later called King to receive her permission to release the song on his upcoming album, “Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon.” King granted Taylor permission to the song, which eventually led his version to become a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Both artists also won a Grammy for the song, with Taylor winning the award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and King winning Song of the Year. In 2010, King and Taylor performed the song together during the “Troubadour Reunion Tour.”
In 1972, Aretha Franklin released a live version of the song for her album, “Amazing Grace.” The same year, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway released a version of “You’ve Got a Friend” that reached number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In the mid 2000s, Javine and McFlay also released versions of the song.