June 25, 2019
I have been waiting over two years to find a Tuesday on which I can feature this musical artist. As one of my favorite ‘hitchhikers’ when I travel back and forth from Yakima to my home, her lovely contralto voice frequently fills my car with many beloved songs from my teen years. I would argue that nobody does it better than Grammy and Academy Award winner Carly Simon. June 28 is her 74th birthday.
In anticipation of this article, I plugged in her greatest hits CD and imagined I, like Carly, was a legend in my own time, singing in the footlights. Alas, I think anyone listening would have said to me you’re so vain to think your voice could compare to hers.
Ultimately, the right thing to do is tell you all about Simon’s life and her amazing career. By all appearances hers was a storybook existence. The daughter of publisher Richard Simon of Simon and Shuster, she grew up as one of three girls seemingly given every advantage. She was, however, sexually assaulted at age 7 by a teenage friend of the family. The event caused the young Carly to withdraw into herself. From the Infallible Wikipedia:
” ‘It was heinous’, (Simon said) adding, ‘It changed my view about sex for a long time.’ Simon began stuttering severely when she was eight years old. A psychiatrist tried unsuccessfully to cure her stuttering. Instead, Simon turned to singing and songwriting. ‘I felt so strangulated talking that I did the natural thing, which is to write songs, because I could sing without stammering, as all stammerers can.’ Simon attended Riverdale Country School and also (briefly) Sarah Lawrence College, before dropping out to pursue music.”
Additionally, she lost her father who – by all accounts was a mostly absent father – at age 15. She teamed up for a short time with her sister, Lucy, and then with another group. It was her impressive talent which propelled her forward as a solo artist. The self titled debut album, Carly Simon, debuted in March 1971 when she was 26.
Her first top ten hit, That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard it Should Be, hailed from the album. Her second album, Anticipation, was released nine months later and the title song made it all the way to number 3 on the charts.
Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:
“Simon scored the biggest success of her career in 1972–73, with ‘You’re So Vain’. It hit No. 1 on the U.S. Pop and Adult Contemporary charts, and sold over a million copies in the United States alone. It was one of the decade’s biggest hits and propelled Simon’s breakthrough album No Secrets to No. 1 on the U.S. album charts, where it stayed for five consecutive weeks. The album achieved Gold status that year, and by its 25th anniversary in 1997 it had been certified Platinum.”
For me it was the song Anticipation which has always garnered a strong emotional response. In fact I found in some of my teenage writings where I had written out all the lyrics to the song and even named the beginnings of one of my early attempts at story telling ‘Anticipation.’
Now, decades later, I am always carried back to 1971 and 1972 when I hear that song and the poignant lyrics are as true today as they were then:
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway
And I wonder if I’m really with you now
Or just chasing after some finer day.
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting
And I tell you how easy it is to be with you
And how right your arms feel around me.
But I rehearsed those words just late last night
When I was thinking about how right tonight might be.
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting
And tomorrow we might not be together
I’m no prophet, I don’t know natures way
So I’ll try to see into your eyes right now
And stay right here, ’cause these are the good old days.
The song is pure in thought and sentiment. Cherish today, for tomorrow is not promised. Carly was right. These ARE the good old days.