"Where You Lead" was written by the long-standing pop solo artist Carole King with lyrics by collaborator Toni Stern, and included as the eighth track on her 1971 smash hit album Tapestry. While this song itself was not released as a single, the album Tapestry as a whole is a record-breaking charting album. It was the #1 album in the US for fifteen consecutive weeks, being the longest run any female solo artist has ever had at the top of the album charts, and has occupied a spot on the Billboard top-200 albums for a total of over 300 weeks. The album is certified diamond by the RIAA - that means over ten million sold.
While it is a love song rather than an inspirational song, the lyrics are inspired by the Biblical Book of Ruth. The relevant King James quote is found in the Old Testament Ruth 1:16: "whither thou goest, I will go..." The situation there is that Naomi has two sons who marry two women, Ruth and Oprah. The sons die and Naomi tells the daughters-in-law that she's releasing them to go back to their mothers and remarry; Ruth stays anyway and gives her famous loyalty speech while Oprah goes off to found her TV show... ha! No, not the same Oprah. This all happens in the middle of a deadly famine. Ruth reaps good karma for her loyalty by later marrying Boaz and having a son, and living a typical happily-ever-after ending. Incidentally, she also finds herself in the direct lineage of King David.
"Where You Lead" served as the theme song to the TV series Gilmore Girls, for which Carole King re-recorded it with her daughter Louise Goffin sharing vocals. King also appeared three times as a guest star on the series, as the proprietor of the music store in the fictional town of Stars Hollow. While the town was fictional, the record store was not: there really was a Record Breakers store in suburban Connecticut, where the show was set.
In a case of a famous cover showing what the original could have done, Barbra Streisand recorded the song for her August 1971 album Barbra Joan Streisand. It hit #40 on the Hot 100 #3 on the Adult Contemporary; a later live version hit #37 on the Hot 100 as well.
Faith Hill covered this for the multi-artist album Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King in 1995.
King was uncomfortable singing about following a man around and nixed the song from her repertoire. "After I recorded it for the [b]Tapestry[/b] album, we women decided that we didn't actually need to follow our men anymore," she said in a 2004 interview. She explained that Gilmore Girls gave the song a new lease on life by changing the message to reflect a bond between a mother and daughter.