Carly Simon  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Carly Elisabeth Simon (born June 25, 1945) is an American singer-songwriter, actress and musician, best-known for songs such as "You're So Vain" and "Why".


Early career

Simon's father was Richard L. Simon (co-founder of Simon & Schuster, Inc.), a pianist who often played Chopin and Beethoven at home. Her mother was Andrea Louise Simon (née Heinemann), a biracial (black and white) Jewish civil rights activist and singer. Carly was raised in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, New York Cityand has two older sisters, Joanna (b. 1940) and Lucy (b. 1943), and a younger brother, Peter Simon (b. 1947). She attended Riverdale Country School. She also briefly attended Sarah Lawrence College, before dropping out to pursue music.

Simon's career began with a short-lived attempt with her sister Lucy as The Simon Sisters. They had a minor hit in 1964 called "Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod" and made three albums together before Lucy left to get married and start a family. Later Simon collaborated with eclectic New York rockers Elephant's Memory for about six months. She also appeared in the 1971 Milos Forman movie Taking Off, playing an auditioning singer and sang "Long Term Physical Effects" which was included in Taking Off, the 1971 soundtrack for the movie.

Her solo music career began in 1971 with the self-titled Carly Simon for Elektra Records. The album contained her breakthrough top-ten hit "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" — and was followed quickly by a second album, Anticipation, the title cut from which also received significant airplay.

Simon scored the biggest success of her career with the classic 1972 global smash "You're So Vain". It hit #1 on the US Pop and Adult Contemporary charts and sold nearly two million 45s in the US alone. It was one of the decade's biggest hits and propelled Carly's breakthrough album No Secrets to #1 on the US album charts—where it stayed locked in for six consecutive weeks—and to million-selling Platinum status which was rare for a female artist in the early 1970s. "You're So Vain" received Grammy Award nominations for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance Female. The follow-up single, "The Right Thing To Do", was also a sizable hit, reaching #4 Adult Contemporary and #17 Pop.

In 1973 Simon performed on Lee Clayton's album Lee Clayton co-singing on the song "New York Suite 409" and on Livingston Taylor's album Over the Rainbow singing with both Livingston and James Taylor (who was by then her husband) on the songs "Loving Be My New Horizon" and "Pretty Woman".

Carly followed the smash No Secrets album with the not as well received Hotcakes (1974). It reached #3 on Billboard's Album Chart and was certified Gold. However, it would sell approximately one-third of what No Secrets sold. Also in 1974 Simon performed on Tom Rush's album Ladies Love Outlaws, co-singing with Rush on "No Regrets" and as backup on "Claim On Me". In 1975 Elektra released her first greatest-hits album The Best of Carly Simon. It would become a major main catalog seller and eventually reach Triple-Platinum in the United States - Carly's only Multi-Platinum certification.

1976 saw Simon contribute backup vocals on the song "Peter" on Peter Ivers's album Peter Ivers. She also made her only appearance on Saturday Night Live. It was a pre-taped - not live - appearance during which she sang two songs: "Half A Chance" and her signature "You're So Vain". In 1977 Simon co-produced Libby Titus's album Libby Titus and sang backup on two songs, "Can This Be Our Love Affair?" and "Darkness 'Til Dawn".

Simon's record sales declined considerably with 1975's Playing Possum, and 1976's Another Passenger. Neither album produced any hit singles. However, in 1977 she had a surprise international smash with "Nobody Does It Better" from the soundtrack to the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. The million-selling Gold single held at #2 for several weeks behind Debby Boone's monster mega-hit "You Light Up My Life", which became the biggest hit of the entire decade. "Nobody Does It Better" remains Simon's all-time biggest US hit after "You're So Vain". It was 1977's biggest Adult Contemporary hit, where it held at #1 for seven straight weeks. It also received Grammy nominations for Song Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance Female.

This success was followed by the 1978 hit album Boys In The Trees which produced another Top 10 Pop and Adult Contemporary hit with the jazzy and sensual "You Belong To Me". Boys In The Trees was a major success as well, returning Carly to Platinum album status in the US. It later earned Simon yet another Grammy nomation in her signature category. Carly was featured on the front covers of People and Rolling Stone magazines that spring. Also in 1978, Simon and James Taylor sang backup vocals on two songs for Taylor's sister Kate's album Kate Taylor: "Happy Birthday Sweet Darling" and "Jason & Ida". Simon and Taylor also sang backup on three songs on John Hall's debut solo album John Hall, "The Fault", "Good Enough" and "Voyagers". Simon and Taylor would also sing backup on one song, "Power", from Hall's next album, also titled Power (1979).

On November 2, 1978 Simon was the guest vocalist on the song "I Live In The Woods" at a live, four hour concert by Burt Bacharach and the Houston Symphony Orchestra at Jones Hall in Houston, Texas. All the songs at that concert became Bacharach's album Woman, which was released in 1979. That year, shortly after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, from September 19 to September 22, a series of concerts were held at New York's Madison Square Garden sponsored by MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy), a group of musicians against nuclear power, co-founded by John Hall. Always politically active, Simon and James Taylor were part of the concerts which later became a film documentary as well as a live album called No Nukes.

Simon released her last album for Elektra called Spy, in 1979. It sold poorly but a harder-edged single from the album, "Vengeance", was a modest hit and received airplay on US Album Rock stations. "Vengeance" earned Carly a Grammy nonimation for Best Rock Vocal Performance Female in early 1980 - the first year of the new category.

From 1972 to 1979 Simon sang backup vocals on the following James Taylor songs and albums (not counting compilations): "One Man Parade" from 1972's One Man Dog, "Rock 'n' Roll Is Music Now", "Let It All Fall Down", "Me And My Guitar", "Daddy's Baby" and "Ain't No Song" from 1974's Walking Man, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" from 1975's Gorilla, "Shower the People", "A Junkie's Lament", "Slow Burning Love" and "Family Man" from 1976's In the Pocket, and "B.S.U.R." from 1979's Flag. She also co-wrote with Taylor the song "Terra Nova" on his 1977 album JT. At the end of the song, Simon sang what has come to be known as "Lambert's Cove".


In 1980, Simon signed with Elektra's parent label Warner Bros. Records. During a show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania while touring to promote her album, Come Upstairs, Simon collapsed onstage of exhaustion. She subsequently performed considerably less throughout the 1980s. Carly scored another million-selling US Gold single with the memorable hit, "Jesse", from that album. Simon also contributed the song "Be With Me" to the 1980 album In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record produced by her sister Lucy and Lucy's husband, David Levine. Simon can also be heard on the song "In Harmony" along with other members of the Simon/Taylor families. Carly and Lucy contributed a "Simon Sisters" song called "Maryanne" to the 1982 follow-up album In Harmony 2, also produced by Lucy and her husband. Both albums won the Grammy for Best Album for Children.

Torch (1981) was an album of melancholy jazz standards, reflecting her mood at the time. It had disappointing sales. The Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards produced "Why" (1982), from the soundtrack to the 1982 movie Soup For One, was a top 10 hit single in the UK but stalled at #74 in the US. She had another minor UK success with the single "Kissing With Confidence", a song off the 1983 album Dancing For Mental Health by Will Powers (a pseudonym for photographer Lynn Goldsmith). Simon was the uncredited singer of the song on the album. Still, her singles were less successful in the 1980s although some did quite well on Adult Contemporary radio formats. In 1983 she made her last album for Warner — Hello Big Man. It was another sales failure. That same year Simon performed on two albums, The Perfect Stranger by Jesse Colin Young (co-singing on the song "Fight For It" with Young) and Wonderland by Nils Lofgren (co-singing on the song "Lonesome Ranger" with Lofgren). By this time her sales were dropping and her contract with Warner Bros ended. She signed with Epic Records in 1985 and made one album for them, Spoiled Girl, which unfortunately had sales of approximately 150,000 copies. Her contract with Epic was cancelled following the release.

In 1986 Simon signed with Arista Records and soon rebounded from her career Her first album for them, Coming Around Again (1987), was a strong comeback album exemplified by the Top 10 Adult Contemporary hits, "Give Me All Night", "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of", "All I Want Is You" and the title track, "Coming Around Again" which wove in and out of the children's song "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and also gave Simon a sizable comeback hit, becoming a Top 20 US Pop smash and her fourth UK Top 10 hit as well. The album was her first Gold release in nine years. It went on to Platinum album status the following year and Carly was again nominated for a Pop Grammy. These and older songs were featured in a picturesque HBO concert special set on Martha's Vineyard, where Simon and her band performed live on a pier. Most of these songs were compiled for her 1988 album — Greatest Hits Live, her second greatest hits album. This album continued her mounting comeback and was later certified platinum by the RIAA in 1996. Throughout the 1980s, Simon successfully contributed to several film and television scores, including the songs "Something More" for the 1982 movie Love Child, "Someone Waits For You" for the 1984 movie Swing Shift, "All The Love In The World" for the 1985 TV movie Torchlight, "It's Hard To Be Tender" for the 1986 TV miniseries Sins, "If It Wasn't Love" for Nothing In Common (1986), "Two Looking At One" for The Karate Kid, Part II (1986), "Coming Around Again" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" for Heartburn (1987), and "Let the River Run" for Working Girl (for which she won the Academy Award for Best Song in 1988). The Working Girl soundtrack, which featured more music from Simon, came out in early 1989. In 1987, Simon sang "The Turn Of The Tide" for a Marlo Thomas TV special called "Free to Be . . . A Family". The song was later included on the 1988 album Free To Be . . . A Family. She also wrote a song called "You're Where I Go" as a tribute to Christa McAuliffe, slated to be the first teacher in space, who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. McAuliffe was a Simon fan, and had taken a cassette of her music on board the shuttle.

In 1985, Simon made an appearance (as herself) in the movie "Perfect" in which she famously threw a drink in John Travolta's face. She later appeared in a 1989 episode of the TV series thirtysomething, again as herself. Also in 1989, Simon's first of several children's books, "Amy the Dancing Bear" was published.


In a busy 1990 Simon released two albums; her second standards album, My Romance and Have You Seen Me Lately?, her first new studio work since 1987. It featured a major (#4) Adult Contemporary hit with "Better Not Tell Her". Her second children's book, "The Boy of the Bells" was also published in 1990 and she wrote the score for the 1990 film Postcards From The Edge. In 1991, Simon wrote her third children's book, "The Fisherman's Song" based on the song of the same name from her 1990 album "Have You Seen Me Lately". That same year, Simon performed a duet with Plácido Domingo on the song "The Last Night Of The World" (from the Miss Saigon musical) on Domingo's album The Broadway I Love. A year later Simon wrote the music for the Nora Ephron film "This Is My Life". The soundtrack was released simultaneously with the movie. In 1993 she contributed the song "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" for the film Sleepless In Seattle, and also recorded the same song in combo with "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" with Frank Sinatra for his album Duets.

1993 saw Simon recording a contemporary opera called Romulus Hunt, having been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera Association and the Kennedy Center, and published of her fourth children's book, "The Nighttime Chauffeur". She also contributed to Andreas Vollenweider's album Eolian Minstrel. Simon co-wrote the song "Private Fires" with Vollenweider, and was featured vocalist on the song.

1994 she covered "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" for Ken Burns' 1994 film Baseball as well as a recording of "I've Got a Crush On You" for Larry Adler's covers album The Glory of Gershwin. That same year Simon recorded another album of original songs, Letters Never Sent, and contributed a Christmas song, "The Night Before Christmas" to the movie and soundtrack Mixed Nuts. In April 1995, Simon surprised thousands of commuters at New York's Grand Central Station with an unannounced performance which was filmed for a Lifetime Television Special. It was also released on VHS in December of that year. Also in 1995 she put aside years of stage fright long enough to stage an American concert tour in conjunction with Hall & Oates. That same year, Clouds In My Coffee, a boxed set of highlights from her career from 1965 to 1995 was released. On August 30, 1995, Simon made a rare joint appearance with her ex-husband James Taylor for a concert on Martha's Vineyard dubbed "Livestock '95", a benefit for the Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society, with over 10,000 attending. She performed a duet with Mindy Jostyn on the song "Time, Be On My Side" on Jostyn's 1995 album Five Miles From Hope.

Simon wrote the theme songs to several more movies, including "Two Little Sisters" from the 1996 movie Marvin's Room and "In Two Straight Lines" from the 1998 movie Madeline. 1997 saw the release of Simon's third standards album, Film Noir, as well as her fifth children's book, "Midnight Farm". In 1998, Simon was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy and received chemotherapy. In 1999 The Very Best Of Carly Simon: Nobody Does It Better, a UK-only greatest hits album was released. That year Simon was the featured vocalist for "Your Silver Key" on the album Cosmopoly by Andreas Vollenweider.

During the 1990s the American press reported on an incident between Carly and the Pretenders', Chrissie Hynde, at a Joni Mitchell concert at New York's Fez Club. Some reports stated that a drunk and disorderly Hynde grabbed Simon around the neck and was punching her, though Carly herself attempted to put these rumours to rest on her official website in 2002. Numerous witnesses, however, claim that Simon was indeed assaulted by Hynde. .


In 2000 she returned from her illness with The Bedroom Tapes, her first album of original songs in almost six years. In 2001, Simon performed on "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)" with Janet Jackson on Jackson's album All for You. She also contributed back-up vocals on two songs, "Don't Turn Away" and "East Of Eden", for Mindy Jostyn's 2001 album Blue Stories. In November of 2001, "Let the River Run" was used in a public service ad for the United States Postal Service. Entitled "Pride", it was produced to boost public confidence and postal worker morale in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the 2001 Anthrax attacks.

In 2002, Simon recorded a Christmas album, Christmas Is Almost Here, for Rhino Records while in Los Angeles lending support to her son Ben Taylor and his band. That same year, Simon personally chose all the songs for a two disc anthology album titled Anthology for Rhino Records. 2003 saw a re-release of her 2002 Christmas album with two extra tracks and called Christmas Is Almost Here Again on Rhino Records. The two extra tracks, "White Christmas" and "Forgive" were also released as a single. Simon also performed several concerts during the 2004 holiday season at Harlem's Apollo Theater along with BeBe Winans, son Ben and daughter Sally, Rob Thomas, Livingston Taylor, Mindy Jostyn, and Kate Taylor along with other members of the Taylor and Simon family.

Among Simon's recent work were songs for the Disney Winnie the Pooh films Piglet's Big Movie in 2003 and Pooh's Heffalump Movie in 2005. Several of her songs were also featured in the 2004 movie Little Black Book starring Brittany Murphy and Holly Hunter. Simon appears in a cameo role as herself at the end of the movie. 2004 also saw the release of her fourth greatest hits album, Reflections: Carly Simon's Greatest Hits, which peaked at #22 on the Billboard charts that year (#25 in the UK).

In 2005 she released her fourth album of standards, titled Moonlight Serenade. It reached #7 on the Billboard Album charts, her highest-charting album in nearly 30 years! To promote Moonlight Serenade, Simon performed two concerts onboard the Queen Mary II which were recorded and released on DVD on November 22, 2005. She also performed in a concert tour in the United States, her first tour in 10 years. Simon also sang a duet, "Angel Of The Darkest Night", with Mindy Jostyn on Jostyn's 2005 album Coming Home which was released several months after Jostyn's death on March 10, 2005. One of Simon's closest friends, Jostyn was married to Jacob Brackman, Simon's long-time friend and musical collaborator. In 2005 she became involved in the legal defense of musician and family friend John Forté with his struggle against a federal incarceration.

The following year Carly recorded yet her fifth album of covers, a collection of "soothing songs and lullabies" called Into White for Columbia Records. The eclectic collection featured covers of songs by Cat Stevens, Judy Garland, The Beatles and the Everly Brothers as well as two new original songs. It also features the vocal collaborations of her children, Ben Taylor and Sally Taylor, both accomplished artists. Released in January of 2007, it became Billboard Magazine's "Hot Shot Debut", entering the chart at number #13.

Simon is also the featured vocalist on four songs on Andreas Vollenweider's holiday album Midnight Clear, released on October 24, 2006: "Midnight Clear", "Suspended Note", "Hymn to the Secret Heart" and "Forgive". "Forgive" is a song Simon wrote for her own holiday album on RHINO Records from 2002 (re-released in an expanded version in 2003), Christmas Is Almost Here.

In March 2008, it was announced that Simon had signed to the Starbucks label Hear Music, and would be releasing a new album entitled This Kind of Love with them in late April 2008. The album would be her first collection of original songs since 2000's The Bedroom Tapes.

On June 19, 2008 Carly and her son, Ben, performed "You're So Vain" together on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite radio.

Simon is one of the few singer/songwriters from her generation to own all the songs she's written.

Film/Television appearances

Besides music, Simon has also appeared (as herself) in films such as the 1985 film Perfect, and an uncredited appearance in the 2004 film Little Black Book. On television, she appeared (also as herself) in a 1989 episode of Thirtysomething, and voiced a 1995 episode of Frasier entitled "Roz in the Doghouse".

Personal life

Simon married fellow singer-songwriter James Taylor on November 3, 1972.Simon and Taylor had two children, Sarah Maria "Sally" born January 7, 1974 and Benjamin Simon "Ben" Taylor born January 22, 1977, both of whom are musicians and political activists. Simon and Taylor divorced in 1983.

Prior to her marriage to Taylor, Simon had been romantically linked to Mick Jagger, Cat Stevens, Kris Kristofferson, and Warren Beatty. She was briefly involved with William Donaldson in the 1960s

Simon was engaged to musician Russ Kunkel from 1985 to 1986.

Simon married James Hart, a writer, poet, and businessman, on December 23, 1987. The couple divorced in 2007.

Simon underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery for breast cancer during 1997 and 1998.

Simon currently lives on Martha's Vineyard and co-owns a store in Vineyard Haven named Midnight Farm, the title of one of her series of children's books from the late 1980s and 1990s.

In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter published on May 1, 2008, Simon was asked about the possibility of a performance in the True Colors Tour. She responded, "The part that I could be involved in is the gay and lesbian part. The part that would be hard for me is to commit to a tour because I'm not very comfortable being onstage. But the part that would be easiest for me would be singing on behalf of all of us. I don't consider myself to be not gay... I've enlarged all of my possibilities. There are a lot of extremely personal stories to tell about that, but we won't go into that right now. Let's just say that it just depends upon who I'm with."

On October 4, 2007, Simon became a grandmother when her daughter gave birth to a son, Bodhi Taylor Bragonier.

Awards and recognition


Studio albums




  • Amy the Dancing Bear, 1989
  • The Boy of the Bells, 1990
  • The Fisherman's Song, 1991
  • The Nighttime Chauffeur, 1993
  • Midnight Farm, 1997

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Carly Simon" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools