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Carly Simon: A Young And Sexy '70s Songbird, Then And Now

Icons | January 13, 2020

Left: Carly Simon poses for a portrait on March 15, 1971 in London, England. Right: Simon in a publicity photo, circa 1977. Sources: Ed Caraeff/Getty Images; Wikimedia Commons

One of the sex symbols of pop music in the '70s, Carly Simon gave us hits including "Anticipation," "Nobody Does It Better," and of course "You're So Vain." That last song was, perhaps surprisingly, her only #1 hit, yet you couldn't get through that decade without being very aware of Simon. She was stylish, she had famous lovers (including a famous husband, James Taylor), she was a regular performer and guest on TV talk shows, she was nominated for Grammys seemingly every year. Simon's effortless and earthy sexuality, and the strength in her singing voice made her a kind of ideal in the liberated '70s -- a feminist taking charge of her life and career who could still drive the boys wild.

A Difficult Beginning

One of the great singer songwriter of her era (showbiz411)

Carly Simon grew up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York. Her father was Richard Simon, co-founder of the publishing house Simon & Schuster. In her book, Simon describes her father “Like some time-bent sailor, he did what he could to steer a course through his own sadness.” Unfortunately, for Simon that was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to the difficulties at home.

A Very Early Sexual Experience Haunted Her

She beautifully talented singer survived and thrived (ultimateclassicrock)

She told People Magazine that at the precocious age of seven, she shared a sexual relationship with a family friend in his teens. As she said, “It was heinous. It changed my view about sex for a long time.” Not knowing right from wrong, Simon failed to see the damage it would cause due to her age.

Eventually, her mother found out and banned the boy from the premises. “I was devastated because I thought I was in a romance. Which I think happens to a lot of girls,” she says. “Your libido overpowers everything!”

Picking Up The Pieces

Simon's magnetic smile could light up a stadium (starschanges)

'Simon's troubled father retired at the age of 57, and died of a heart attack at the age of 61. Simon used her small family inheritance to try to pull herself together. A nervous breakdown in France pushed her to undergo an intensive psychoanalysis program five days a week.

At some point “Dr. F” as she refers to him declared her healed. Simon thought her “healing” had more to do with her dwindling funds. Looking back, I assume he must have caught a whiff of that pungent, sour aroma of future bounced checks, the scent of a patient on the cusp of exhausting her funds.”

A Transatlantic Crossing With Bond, James Bond

Crossing the Atlantic with unrequited lust, the Simon Sister and Connery (pinterest.dk)

Simon’s first success in music came as half of the Simon Sisters, an act that naturally included her sister, Lucy. In 1965, they crossed the pond and on their way home discovered that none other than Sean Connery was on the ship with them. Apparently, Simon wrote the greatest Bond ever “a cheeky letter” and along with her sister, they proceeded to pass the rest of the trip hanging out together.

Carly insists they never made a “Simon Sisters Sandwich” with Connery. However, according to Carly, her sister victoriously made her move on the last night with Bond, James Bond. Supposedly, that was a sign for Carly that it was time to end the sister act. Twelve years later, she recorded "Nobody Does It Better," the theme song for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). At that point, Roger Moore had replaced Connery but Carly kept Connery on her mind.

The GOAT of Songwriting Tried To Recruit Her

Simon and Dylan almost ended up performing together (njnnetwork)

In 1966, the one and only Bob Dylan thought enough about Simon’s superb skills that he attempted to woo her into signing with his management company. Dylan thought “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” would fit her talents nicely.

He even offered to rewrite some of the lyrics for her. When they met, Dylan espoused the greatness of Nashville. As Carly wrote, “Thank God, he was stoned, which meant I didn’t have to worry too much about making a good impression.”

Trysts With The Titans Of Her Time

Apparently flattering lists can work, at least if you're Warren Beatty (Newsmax)

Dylan wasn’t the only one enamored with Miss Simon. Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson both made very different advances toward the Carly. Nicholson was rather direct. After she made a pot of coffee, Jack inquired, “Do you ever drink coffee in your bedroom?” Beatty, on the other hand, pulled out a list of the “main loves of his life.” Fitting snugly between Catherine the Great and Marie Curie was none other than Carly Simon.

She was most impressed by his vivid memory. “He remembered the names of my mother, sisters, brother, grandmother, old boyfriends, streets where I lived five years ago. With this groundbreaking memory, he seldom if ever got confused.”

The Ups And Downs With James Taylor

The couple was married for 11 fruitful years (youtube)

The power couple spent many years together and have two children together. Nevertheless, their relationship was far from sunshine and rainbows. The happier times included him naming a pond on his property “Carly’s Bottom” of which he was deeply enamored. On the darker side, he shot up heroin right in front of her. “Chemistry was in the making, and somehow all the components made their way into the syringe, and as he pulled the rubber tight on his arm the veins became purple and frightening.”

Today, she lives on 175 acres of woods, that Taylor bought when he was 22, on Martha’s Vineyard. There she enjoys her quiet time with her long-time boyfriend, Richard Koehler and her children.

Tags: 1970s Music | Carly Simon | Ladies | Then And Now

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Kellar Ellsworth

Writer

Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!