Carly Simon Biography

25 June 1945, New York City, New York, USA. Simon became one of the most popular singer-songwriters of the 70s. In the early 60s she played Greenwich Village clubs with her sister Lucy. As the Simon Sisters they had one minor hit with ‘Winkin’ Blinkin’ And Nod’ (Kapp Records 1964) and recorded two albums of soft folk and children’s’ material. After the duo split up, Carly Simon made an unsuccessful attempt to launch a solo career through Albert Grossman (then Bob Dylan’s manager) before concentrating on songwriting with film critic Jacob Brackman. In 1971, two of their songs, the wistful ‘That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be’ and the Paul Samwell-Smith produced ‘Anticipation’ were US hits for Simon. Her voice was given a rock accompaniment by Richard Perry on her third album which included her most famous song, ‘You’re So Vain’, whose target was variously supposed to be Warren Beatty and/or Mick Jagger, who provided backing vocals. The song was a million-seller in 1972 and nearly two decades later was reissued in Britain after it had been used in a television commercial. The attendant No Secrets remains Simon’s most applauded work, and featured among numerous gems, ‘The Right Thing To Do’. Simon’s next Top 10 hit was an insipid revival of the Charlie And Inez Foxx song ‘Mockingbird’ on which she duetted with James Taylor to whom she was married from 1972-83. Their marriage was given enormous coverage in the US media and the couple’s divorce received similar treatment as Simon found solace with Taylor’s drummer Russell Kunkel.

During the latter part of the 70s, Simon was less prolific as a writer and recording artist although she played benefit concerts for anti-nuclear causes. Her most successful records were the James Bond film theme. ‘Nobody Does It Better’, written by Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch and ‘You Belong To Me’, a collaboration with Michael McDonald, both in 1977. During the 80s, Simon’s work moved away from the singer-songwriter field and towards the pop mainstream. She released two albums of pre-war Broadway standards (Torch and My Romance) and increased her involvement with films. Her UK hit ‘Why’ (1982) was written by Chic and used in the movie Soup For One and she appeared in Perfect alongside John Travolta. Her biggest achievement of the decade was to compose and perform two memorable film themes. Both ‘Coming Around Again’ (from Heartburn) and the Oscar-winning ‘Let The River Run’ (from Working Girl) demonstrated the continuing depth of Simon’s songwriting talent while the quality of her previous work was showcased on a 1988 live album and video recorded in the open air at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. In 1990, her career came full circle when Lucy Simon was a guest artist on Have You Seen Me Lately?.

After a lengthy gap in recording, Letters Never Sent was released in 1995. This was a perplexing album, lyrically nostalgic and sad with lush arrangements, which peaked outside the Top 100 in the USA. Recent years have not been kind to Simon. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, and a bout of writer’s block and lack of confidence persisted up to the release of The Bedroom Tapes in 2000. A Christmas album in 2002 was followed by a perplexing album of American song book covers. Simon was venturing into a different territory with mixed results, although the album was a major commercial success and returned the singer to the US Top 10. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.