Carly Simon: Singer, Songwriter, Icon
Since first appearing on the musical landscape in the early 70's as a solo artist, Carly Simon has enjoyed an unparalleled career. She has produced chart-topping hit singles, multiple award-winning film scores, nearly twenty-five albums of original music, treasured children's books, a family, an opera, at least one new musical genre, sexually-charged controversy, collections of standards unmatched by any other popular artist, and a smile second only in fame to the Mona Lisa's. And it is a career going just as strong today.
Born in New York City on June 25, 1945, Carly was the third daughter of publisher Richard Simon and his wife, Andrea. The household was a cultured and highly musical one; Richard played the piano and Andrea sang, as did Joanna and Lucy, Carly's sisters. As the girls grew, Carly's and Lucy's harmonizing to folk melodies became something of a legitimate act. By the early sixties the Simon Sisters were performing in coffee houses and small clubs throughout the Northeast. Two albums were released on the Kapp label, and in 1964 the sisters were asked to appear on the popular and nationally broadcast music hour, 'Hootenanny.'
When the Simon Sisters stopped touring due to the arrival of Lucy's first child, Carly Simon began her solo recording career. She moved to New York City and recorded the songs she had been writing. Eventually her tapes were brought to the attention of Jac Holzman of Elektra Records, who signed her to the label in 1970. "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" - with lyrics by friend Jake Brackman - was the hit single from her self-titled debut album. The Grammy Award for Best New Artist followed on its heels in 1972. Carly Simon was suddenly among the very select female pop stars that spoke for and to women in the new decade of the 1970's.
The next few years and releases set Carly firmly at the top of her profession. An accomplished musician in her own right, Carly's guitar or piano playing figured from the start in most every song she recorded. Mega-hits like "Legend In Your Own Time" and "Anticipation," from her second album, established her both as star and as unique creative force. It was the age of the personal songwriter. Carly's songs, always born from and true to her own experience, set the standard. She wrote of her introspections, fears and joys, and it resonated with millions. No Secrets, her chart-topping album of 1972, quickly became a staple in homes everywhere as "You're So Vain" climbed to number one and remained there for three weeks.
Throughout this period Carly Simon was breaking ground on several fronts. It was the early seventies; pop songs, particularly those penned by women, were for the most part one-dimensional affirmations of love. Carly Simon's work, from the tender doubts of "No Secrets" to the cooled anger of "You're So Vain", contained an edgy intelligence never before heard from a female songwriter. Nor had anyone so challenged the traditional image of women in the music industry. From the start of her career, Carly brought a bold sensuality to her lyrics and her album cover art. Long before other female artists were pushing the envelope on what was considered sexually provocative, Carly Simon's 1975 album Playing Possum was being pulled from stores shelves as being far too suggestive.
Carly married fellow singer/songwriter James Taylor late in 1972, an event that landed them on the cover of Rolling Stone the following month and announced to the world that the 'Royal Couple of Rock' had arrived. It was the first time the music industry had seen two such equally famous and talented musicians unite in marriage (and song). Their union produced two children, Sally and Ben, both of whom are now singer/songwriters in their own rights. It also produced numerous musical collaborations that could be found on each other's albums throughout the seventies. Carly's "Mockingbird" and James' "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You" both climbed to top-ten spots on the charts. In her 1974 Hotcakes album, Carly examined and celebrated her new life as wife and mother. "Haven't Got Time For The Pain," her no-nonsense anthem to the best of all possible turning points, was another chart-topper. Four more albums and five more hit singles were released before the decade was out: Playing Possum's "Attitude Dancing," "Boys In The Trees," "You Belong To Me," "Devoted To You" and Spy's "Vengeance." Her recording of "Nobody Does It Better", the Sager/Hamlisch song for the 1977 film, 'The Spy Who Loved Me', became perhaps the most memorable of the James Bond themes.
With the eighties emerged more and different voices to the pop scene. But the woman whose individual style and perspective had set the world on its ear years before was still very much an innovative presence. Directly following her 1980 hit "Jesse," Carly's next move was to break yet more ground. She single-handedly invented the genre of pop stars recording classic songs. Her Torch album of 1981 was received by critics as a masterwork. Further collections of classics - 1990's My Romance' and the celebrated Jimmy Webb collaboration of 1997, Film Noir - have only served to enhance her stature as the foremost interpreter of this musical heritage.
It is a measure of Carly's appeal and longevity that, in an industry where multi-leg tours are considered necessary for an artist to survive, Carly Simon has consistently expanded her audience while rarely touring. And, when she does perform live, it is always an eagerly anticipated event. Her concert from Martha's Vineyard, aired on HBO in 1987, drew top ratings. Demands from fans that it be available on DVD format have finally been satisfied. Equally celebrated - and typically original - was Carly's 1995 concert Live From Grand Central (aired on Lifetime), in which she thrilled commuters lucky enough to have been in the landmark terminal that day.
Carly Simon led the way in still another sphere: writing for film. Her score for the 1986 Nora Ephron/Mike Nichols movie 'Heartburn' spawned the hit single "Coming Around Again" and once again put Carly at the top of the singles charts. Her soundtrack for 'Working Girl' (1988) brought her an Oscar and a Golden Globe for the soaring theme song from the movie, "Let The River Run." 1992's "Love Of My Life," from Carly's score for the Ephron film 'This Is My Life', was another top-twenty hit. Carly certainly did not confine herself to film music in the 90's: her original opera, Romulus Hunt, premiered with the New York Metropolitan Guild in '93. And in '94 she released the album Letters Never Sent. The song "Touched By The Sun," inspired by the loss of a dear friend, was hailed by critics and listeners alike as a modern classic.
Her next album, by far her most personal was the self recorded and engineered, The Bedroom Tapes. This album released with the new millennium, received universal praise from music critics on all fronts. It was released during a tumultuous time at Arista Records where there was an overhaul of the top executives. Carly has re-gained possession of The Bedroom Tapes and is planning on re-releasing within a few years.
Her first ever Christmas album of 2002 (with two songs added in 2003) more than rewarded the audience that had long been awaiting it. Her latest full-length soundtrack arrived in 2005 when Disney Pictures released the animated 'Heffalump' which followed her soundtrack score for 'Piglet's Big Movie'.
Carly's latest best selling projects include the BMG's release of 'Reflections', a greatest hit single disc package in 2004 and critically acclaimed Moonlight Serenade which reunited her with producer Richard Perry (No Secrets) which debuted on Billboard's Album Charts at # 7.
More music, more talent, more Carly, keeps coming. Whatever the venue, whatever the song, one thing is certain: it will be born from Carly Simon's unflagging gift for reflecting everyone's experience in the exquisitely honest reflections of her own heart.
--- from the official Carly Simon website