In the early 1970s, singer-songwriter Carly Simon emerged as a gifted storyteller and lyricist who broke established narratives, writing exquisite songs about modern women’s lives. Her confessional balladry, gorgeous melodies, and catchy choruses made her a captivating voice among a new generation of singer-songwriters.
Born into an affluent New York City family, Simon had met such icons as Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt by the time she attended college. Inspired by Odetta, she first began performing folk music with her sister, Lucy, as the Simon Sisters. Her unique viewpoint as a songwriter became evident in Simon’s 1971 self-titled solo debut. It yielded the Top Ten single “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be,” and she won the Best New Artist Grammy. Her sophomore album, Anticipation, garnered even more success and attention. With nuanced and sophisticated songcraft like “Anticipation,” Simon explored love, breakups, and family relationships; her alto vocals and crystal-clear enunciation gave her songs a buoyancy, even when their subject matter was heartbreak.
Her third album, the masterful No Secrets, included the Number One smash “You’re So Vain,” a pop juggernaut that connected with audiences worldwide and became her signature song. Following Simon’s 1972 marriage to James Taylor, the couple recorded the playful duet “Mockingbird,” a Number Five hit in 1974. Three years later, Simon sang “Nobody Does It Better” for the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. As one of the franchise’s most enduring theme songs, it sparked the admiration of Radiohead, who later covered it in live performances. Simon’s “Let the River Run,” written for the film Working Girl, resulted in Simon becoming the first performer to win an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy for a song composed and performed entirely by a single artist.
Simon’s influence on fellow artists is incalculable – among them, Taylor Swift, who invited her onstage in 2013 to perform a duet of “You’re So Vain” and considers Simon one of her “absolute heroes.”
“That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be,” Carly Simon (1971) • “Anticipation,” Anticipation (1971) • “You’re So Vain,” “The Right Thing to Do,” “We Have No Secrets,” No Secrets (1972) • “Mockingbird,” Hotcakes (1974) • “Waterfall,” Playing Possum (1975) • “Nobody Does It Better,” The Spy Who Loved Me soundtrack (1977) • “You Belong to Me,” Boys in the Trees (1978) • “Let the River Run,” Working Girl soundtrack (1989)
Joan Baez, Odetta, Bob Dylan
Taylor Swift, Alanis Morrisette, Tori Amos
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