The 70’s were a period when most of the musicians that marked the rock and roll history emerged on the music scene. Among them was Carly Simon, who wrote the everlasting hit You’re So Vain.
Simon was born as the third daughter of Richard Simon, the co-founder of the Simon & Schuster publishing company, on June 25, 1945, in New York City. Her parents were hoping for a son whom they would name Carl, and when Simon was born, “they simply added a y to the word, like an accusing chromosome: Carly,” the famous musician once said.
She and her family lived in their house in Greenwich Village, New York, but young Simon loved spending most of her time at the estate in Stamford, Connecticut. During that time, she became close to baseball player Jackie Robinson who was a very good friend of the family. Jackie would take her to his games and fans even considered her the team’s mascot.
“Jackie even taught me how to bat lefty, though it never took”, Simon wrote in her memoir Boys in the Trees, published in 2015. “He always had the cutest look around the side of his mouth, as if he were thinking about what he was about to say before he said it.”
Simon showed interest in music and soon after, she and her sister Lucy started performing together in Greenwich Village after they learned how to play the guitar by themselves. The duo was named The Simon Sisters and released three albums.
Once she started a solo career, Carly’s songs reached top numbers on the charts. Her single That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be, which is part of her debut album Carly Simon released in 1971, was No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Some of her most famous songs are Anticipation, Haven’t Got Time for the Pain, You Belong to Me, Coming Around Again, Mockingbird, Nobody Does It Better from the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, and Jesse.
According to her, she wrote the hit Anticipation in 15 minutes while waiting for Cat Stevens at her place.
Being a new name in the world of music and releasing two very successful albums in a very short amount of time brought young Simon a Grammy Award for Best New Artist of the Year, and a nomination in the “Best Pop Female Vocalist” category.
However, it was the third song of her third album that made history. You are so Vain is currently ranked at No. 92 on the list of Billboard‘s Greatest Songs of All-Time and was voted No. 216 in RIAA’s Songs of the Century. In August 2014, the UK’s Official Charts Company crowned it the ultimate song of the 1970s.
But it remains a mystery until this day who that iconic song is about. At the time Simon was at the Trident Studios in London, England, recording it, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger were present and Jagger sang the chorus, although he wasn’t credited for it. However, as it turned out, one of the people the hit was written for was the Rolling Stones front-man himself, and not Warren Bitty as many assumed.
Simon wrote in her memoir that Jagger visited the studio the moment he learned she was there.
“It was shortly after midnight. Mick and I, we were close together – the same height, same coloring, same lips. I felt as if I was trying to stay within a pink gravity that was starting to loosen its silky grip on me. I was thrilled by the proximity, remembering all the times I had spent imitating him in front of my closet mirror.”
Simon also said her song was about two other people too, but she refused to reveal their names, saying the fact they themselves know it is enough. “Probably, if we were sitting over at dinner and I said: ‘remember that time you walked into the party and…’ I don’t know if I’ll do it. I never thought I would admit that it was more than one person.”
Simon was married two times. She met her first husband James Taylor in 1971 and spoke of that meeting in her memoir. ”He wore dark red, loose, wide-wale corduroys and a long-sleeved Henley with one button open, his right hand clutching a self-rule cigarette. His hair, simultaneously shiny and disheveled, fell evenly on both sides of his head, and he wore a scruffy, understated mustache, the kind so fashionable back in the yearly 1970s. He seemed both kempt and unkempt. Even sprawled out on the floor, everything about him communicated that he was, in fact, the center of something – the core of an apple, the center of a note.”
They had two children together but divorced in 1983, after 11 years of marriage. In 1987, Simon married writer James Hart but divorced him in 2007.
She says her daughter has read her memoir, but her son still hasn’t. In 1994 Simon’s work was honored and celebrated by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. She’s still writing songs and music and is the first singer ever to win three major awards for a single track: an Academy Award, a Grammy and a Golden Globe for her song Let The River Run written for the movie Working Girl, 1988.
Carly Simon is now 75 and she is a legend who has made a huge impact in the world of music and she still has a lot to give to her fans.