American rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist With her full-throated, openhearted singing style and affecting lyrics, Simon rose to prominence as a singer-songwriter in the 1970's.
Born: June 25, 1945; New York, New York
Carly Elisabeth Simon was the third and youngest daughter of Richard L. Simon, the cofounder of the Simon & Schuster publishing company, and Andrea Heinemann Simon, a singer and civil rights activist. Growing up in an affluent and highly musical family in the Riverdale section of New York City, Simon and her two sisters developed considerable musical talent. In the 1960's, Simon dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College to form a folksinging duo with her sister Lucy. In 1971 Simon began a major solo career as a rock artist, finding both critical and popular acclaim for her confessional lyrics and for her cordial, flexible, and forthright voice. She was also known for the striking, sometimes provocative photographs of herself on her album covers. A major success was her third album, No Secrets, released in November, 1972.
In the same year, Simon married the equally prominent singersongwriter James Taylor, and the celebrity couple moved to a picturesque farmhouse in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, which became Simon's permanent home. Considered one of rock's royal couples, the pair collaborated musically throughout the 1970's, supported progressive political causes, and produced two children, Sally and Ben. They divorced in 1983. Stage fright and a reluctance to leave her children led Simon to make only rare concert appearances, but she continued to record her own songs as well as popular standards and to publish children's books. In 1987 Simon married poet Jim Hart; the couple divorced in 2007. A bout with breast cancer and depression led Simon to withdraw from the music business in 1997, but she recovered to produce an album of original material in 2000. She has continued to write and to record standards and her own music.
The Music Simon's early work was in the folk-song genre popular in the 1970's, but her material, which always contained elements of show tunes and art song, later began to connect with the traditional popular song of the prerock American songbook. Her later work exhibits the influence of contemporary New Age music. "That's TheWayI Always Heard It Should Be". This melancholy ballad was Simon's first hit, and it is considered the first antimarriage song written and sung by a woman. The lyrics also suggest that marriage in an adult world required the sacrifice of the promise of youth. Despite the skeptical lyrics written for Simon by Jacob Brackman, the underlying romanticism of Simon's work was expressed by her melody, which has been compared to the kind of French art song written by Gabriel Faur?. "Anticipation" and "You're So Vain". The hit song "Anticipation", from the album of the same name, was an effective showcase for Simon's ardent musical persona.
It also demonstrated the assured sense of rock rhythm that made her a favorite of her era. This song suggests a sense of vulnerability with regard to an anticipated romantic encounter; as with all of her work, her enunciation and phrasing brought attention to her lyrics, often perceived as confessional. Simon's had tremendous success with "You're So Vain", on her best-selling album, No Secrets, and it is her signature song. Addressed to a narcissistic lover, this bold rock song was a number-one hit, consolidated her reputation as an outspoken feminist, and created decades-long speculation as to the true identity of song's subject. In the 1970's, Simon released several more albums and more hit singles, but her transition from youthful rock music into the world of adult contemporary music was announced with her 1981 album Torch, considered the first example of a rock star covering classic jazz standards. She recorded other such albums in the years to come. Later Work. The 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me featured Simon's version of Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager's "Nobody Does It Better", which became a hit song.
Beginning in the 1980's, Simon herself found success as a songwriter in film. Of special note is 1986's score for Heartburn, resulting in the hit song, "Coming Around Again". "Let the River Run", a feminist anthem for 1988's Working Girl, won the Academy Award for Best Song as well as a Golden Globe and a Grammy Award. In 2001 this song was used by the U.S. Postal Service to restore confidence after the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001. In 1993 Simon composed Romulus Hunt: A Family Opera, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Her collaboration withNewAge musicianAndreas Vollenweider suggested innovative directions in Simon's music. Her album Letters Never Sent exhibits his influence, and it demonstrates as well her continued ability to speak to her maturing generation. Of special note in this regard is her song "Like a River", which addresses the death of her mother.
After her struggle with depression and cancer, Simon self-recorded and engineered the intimate Bedroom Tapes, a mix of pop, rock, classical, and New Age music. In 2008 Simon explored more musical possibilities with This Kind of Love, a sophisticated contemporary adult album that deploys an adventurous blend of Brazilian samba, contemporary rap, jazz, and rhythm and blues. Musical Legacy Simon was one of the most significant female singer-songwriters of her time. Three of her songs-"That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be", "You're So Vain", and "Let the River Run"-have been associated with the feminist movement brought about by women who came of age in the late 1960's. Her song "You're So Vain" was voted number 216 in the Recording Industry Association of America's Songs of the Century. This song has been covered by numerous rock groups and solo artists. Her other songs have been covered by such artists as Tori Amos, Michael McDonald, Mandy Moore, Sheryl Crow, Karrin Allyson, and Chaka Khan. A multiple Grammy Award winner, Simon was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994.