Carly Elisabeth Simon (born , 1945) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and children's author. She rose to fame in the 1970s with a string of hit records, and has since been the recipient of a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award for her work.
She is the former wife of another notable singer-songwriter, James Taylor, with whom she has two children: Sarah "Sally" Maria Taylor and Ben Taylor, who are also musicians.
Simon was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994.
Simon was born in New York City, New York. Her father was Richard L. Simon (co-founder of Simon & Schuster), a pianist who often played Chopin and Beethoven at home. Her mother was Andrea Louise Simon (n?©e Heinemann), a civil rights activist and singer. Simon's father was Jewish and her mother was of German and Spanish descent. Simon, her sisters and brother Peter, were raised nominal Catholics according to a book of photography Peter published in the late '90s, yet she describes herself as Jewish and says she is of black, Cuban, and French ancestry. Carly was raised in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, New York City and has two older sisters, Joanna (b. 1940) and Lucy (b. 1943), and a younger brother, Peter Simon (b. 1947). She attended Riverdale Country School. She also briefly attended Sarah Lawrence College and joined Alpha Gamma Delta, before she dropped out to pursue music.
Simon's career began with a short-lived attempt with her sister Lucy as The Simon Sisters. They had a minor hit in 1964 which was called "Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod", and made three albums together before Lucy left to get married and start a family. Later, Simon collaborated with eclectic New York rockers Elephant's Memory for about six months. She also appeared in the 1971 Milos Forman movie Taking Off and played an auditioning singer and sang "Long Term Physical Effects", which was included in Taking Off, the 1971 soundtrack for the movie.
Her solo music career began in 1971, with the self-titled Carly Simon on Elektra Records. The album contained her breakthrough top-ten hit "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be". It was followed quickly by a second album, Anticipation. The title song from that album, written about a romance between Simon and Cat Stevens, received significant airplay. Another song - also written about Stevens - was "Legend in Your Own Time". After their brief liaison during 1970-1971 ended amicably, Stevens wrote his song "Sweet Scarlet" about Simon, who also had highly publicized relationships with Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson, and James Taylor during this period.
Simon scored the biggest success of her career with the classic 1972 global smash "You're So Vain". It hit #1 on the US Pop and Adult Contemporary charts and sold nearly two million 45 rpm vinyl records in the United States alone. It was one of the decade's biggest hits and propelled Carly's breakthrough album No Secrets to #1 on the US album charts???where it stayed locked in for six consecutive weeks???and to Platinum status. "You're So Vain" received Grammy Award nominations for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Additionally, as of 2008, it is listed at #72 on the Billboard Hot 100's definitive list of the Hot 100's top 100 songs from the chart's first 50 years, August 1958 through July 2008.
The subject of the song itself has become one of the biggest enigmas in popular music, as this track also carries one of the most famous refrains: "You're so vain/I bet you think this song is about you." Simon has never publicly admitted who the song is about. She hinted that it could be a composite of several people, and for many people the top 2 on the list of possible "suspects" have always included both Beatty and Jagger, who sings backup vocals on this recording.
Regardless, it was a huge hit, spending three weeks at No. 1 in January 1973 on the Billboard Hot 100's list, and Simon has given vague hints over the decades to a variety of talk shows and publications, including The Washington Post, and USA Today, as well as fending off questions from interviews as varied as from hosts Phil Donohue, Charlie Rose, Ellen Degeneres, Regis and Kelly and NBC's Today Show, among many others, saying that riddles wouldn't be interesting if everyone knew the answers to them.
(On August 5, 2003, she did finally auction off the information to the winner of a charity function for a grand total of $50,000.00 USD, with the condition that the winner (a television executive, Dick Ebersol on NBC's Today Show) not reveal who it is.)
Also in 1973 the follow-up single, "The Right Thing To Do", was also a sizable hit and reached #4 Adult Contemporary and #17 Pop. Later on in the year Simon performed on Lee Clayton's album Lee Clayton and co-sang on the song "New York Suite 409" and on Livingston Taylor's album Over the Rainbow and sang with both Livingston and his famous brother, James Taylor (who was, by then, her husband) on the songs "Loving Be My New Horizon" and "Pretty Woman".
Carly followed the smash No Secrets album with the not-as-well received Hotcakes (1974). It still reached #3 on Billboard's Album Chart and was certified Gold. However, it went on to sell approximately one-quarter of what No Secrets sold. The same year, in 1974, Simon provided vocals on Tom Rush's album Ladies Love Outlaws and co-sang with Rush on "No Regrets" and as backup on "Claim On Me". In 1975, Elektra released her first greatest-hits album The Best of Carly Simon, which was Simon's best seller and eventually reached Triple-Platinum status in the United States, which made it her only Multi-Platinum certification.
1976 saw Simon contributing backup vocals on the song "Peter" on Peter Ivers's album Peter Ivers. She also made her only appearance on Saturday Night Live. It was a pre-taped, as were most performances on the show then (not a live show), which was to her liking, because Simon suffered terrible bouts of stage fright. In the appearance, she sang two songs: "Half A Chance" and her signature song, "You're So Vain". In 1977, Simon co-produced Libby Titus's album Libby Titus and sang backup on two songs: "Can This Be Our Love Affair?" and "Darkness 'Til Dawn".
Simon's record sales declined considerably with 1975's Playing Possum and 1976's Another Passenger. Neither album produced any hit singles. However, in 1977, she had a surprise international smash with "Nobody Does It Better", from the soundtrack to the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. The million-selling Gold single held at #2 for several weeks, behind Debby Boone's monster mega-hit "You Light Up My Life", which became the biggest hit of the entire decade. "Nobody Does It Better" remains Simon's all-time biggest US hit, after "You're So Vain". It was 1977's biggest Adult Contemporary hit, where it held at #1 for seven straight weeks. It also received Grammy nominations for Song Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance Female.
This success was followed by the 1978 hit album Boys In The Trees , which produced another Top 10 Pop and Adult Contemporary hit with the jazzy and sensual "You Belong To Me". Boys In The Trees was a major success, too, and returned Carly to Platinum album status in the US. It later earned Simon yet another Grammy nomination in her signature category. Carly was featured on the front covers of People Magazine and Rolling Stone Magazine that spring. Also in 1978, Simon and James Taylor sang backing vocals on two songs for Taylor's sister Kate's album Kate Taylor: "Happy Birthday Sweet Darling" and "Jason & Ida". Simon and Taylor also sang backup on three songs on John Hall's debut solo album John Hall, "The Fault", "Good Enough" and "Voyagers". Simon and Taylor would also sing backup on one song, "Power", from Hall's next album, which is also titled Power (1979).
On November 2, 1978, Simon guested on the song "I Live In The Woods" at a live, four hour concert by Burt Bacharach and the Houston Symphony Orchestra at Jones Hall in Houston, Texas. All of the songs at that concert became Bacharach's album Woman, which was released in 1979. That year, shortly after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, from September 19 to September 22, a series of concerts were held at New York's Madison Square Garden and sponsored by MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy), a group of musicians against nuclear power, co-founded by John Hall. Always politically active, Simon and James Taylor were part of the concerts which later became a film documentary, as well as a live album that was called No Nukes.
Simon released her last album for Elektra , which was called Spy, in 1979. It sold poorly, although a harder-edged single from the album, "Vengeance" was a modest hit and received airplay on US Album Rock stations. "Vengeance" earned a Grammy nomination for Carly for Best Rock Vocal Performance Female in early 1980 - the first year of the new category.
From 1972 to 1979, Simon sang backup vocals on the following James Taylor songs and albums (not counting compilations): "One Man Parade" from 1972's One Man Dog, "Rock 'n' Roll Is Music Now", "Let It All Fall Down", "Me And My Guitar", "Daddy's Baby" and "Ain't No Song" from 1974's Walking Man, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" from 1975's Gorilla, "Shower the People", "A Junkie's Lament", "Slow Burning Love" and "Family Man" from 1976's In the Pocket, and "B.S.U.R." from 1979's Flag. She also co-wrote with Taylor the song "Terra Nova" on his 1977 album JT. At the end of the song, Simon sang what has come to be known as "Lambert's Cove".
In 1980, Simon signed with Elektra's parent label Warner Bros. Records. During a show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania while she toured to promote her album, Come Upstairs, Simon collapsed onstage of exhaustion. She subsequently performed considerably less throughout the 1980s. Carly scored another million-selling US Gold single with the memorable hit, "Jesse", from that album. Simon also contributed the song "Be With Me" to the 1980 album In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record , which was produced by her sister Lucy and Lucy's husband, David Levine. Simon can also be heard on the song "In Harmony", along with other members of the Simon/Taylor families. Carly and Lucy contributed a "Simon Sisters" song - which was called "Maryanne" - to the 1982 follow-up album In Harmony 2, which was also produced by Lucy and her husband. Both albums won Grammy Awards for Best Album for Children.
Torch (1981) was an album of melancholy jazz standards and reflected her mood at the time. It had disappointing sales. The Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards produced "Why" (1982), from the soundtrack to the 1982 movie Soup For One, was a top 10 hit single in the UK but stalled at #74 in the US. She had another minor UK success with the single "Kissing With Confidence", a song off the 1983 album Dancing For Mental Health by Will Powers (a pseudonym for photographer Lynn Goldsmith). Simon was the uncredited singer of the song on the album. Still, her singles were less successful in the 1980s, although some did quite well on Adult Contemporary radio formats. In 1983, she made her last album for Warner ??? Hello Big Man. It was another sales failure. That same year, Simon performed on two albums, The Perfect Stranger by Jesse Colin Young (co-sang on the song "Fight For It" with Young) and Wonderland by Nils Lofgren (and co-sang on the song "Lonesome Ranger" with Lofgren). By this time, her sales had dropped and her contract with Warner Bros ended. She signed with Epic Records , in 1985, and made one album for them, Spoiled Girl, which, unfortunately, had sales of approximately 150,000 copies. Her contract with Epic was cancelled, following the release.
In 1986, Simon signed with Arista Records and soon rebounded from her career slump. Her first album for them, Coming Around Again (1987), was a strong comeback album, which was exemplified by the Top 10 Adult Contemporary hits, "Give Me All Night," "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of," "All I Want Is You," and the title track, "Coming Around Again." The title track in particular provided Simon with a sizable comeback hit, becoming a Top 20 US Pop smash and her fourth UK Top 10 hit as well. The album was her first Gold release in nine years. It went on to Platinum album status the following year, and Carly was again nominated for a Pop Grammy. These and older songs were featured in a picturesque HBO concert special which was set on Martha's Vineyard, where Simon and her band performed live on a pier. Most of these songs were compiled for her 1988 album; Greatest Hits Live, her second greatest hits album. This album continued her mounting comeback and was later certified platinum by the RIAA in 1996.
Scoring music to film
Throughout the 1980s, Simon successfully contributed to several film and television scores, including the songs "Why" for the 1982 movie Soup For One, "Something More" for the 1982 movie Love Child, "Someone Waits For You" for the 1984 movie Swing Shift, "All The Love In The World" for the 1985 TV movie Torchlight, "It's Hard To Be Tender" for the 1986 TV miniseries Sins, "If It Wasn't Love" for Nothing In Common (1986), "Two Looking At One" for The Karate Kid, Part II (1986), "Coming Around Again" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" for Heartburn (1987), and "Let the River Run" for Working Girl (for which she won the Academy Award for Best Song and Golden Globe Award for Best Song in 1988). The Working Girl soundtrack, which featured more music from Simon, came out in early 1989. In 1987, Simon sang "The Turn Of The Tide" for a Marlo Thomas TV special called "Free to Be . . . A Family". The song was later included on the 1988 album Free To Be . . . A Family. She also wrote a song that was called "You're Where I Go", as a tribute to Christa McAuliffe, who was slated to be the first teacher in space and who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. McAuliffe was a Simon fan and had taken a cassette of her music on board the shuttle.
In 1990, Simon released two albums; her second standards album, My Romance, and an album of original material Have You Seen Me Lately. The latter featured a major (#4) Adult Contemporary hit with "Better Not Tell Her". Her second children's book, "The Boy of the Bells" was also published in 1990 and she wrote the score for the 1990 film Postcards from the Edge. In 1991, Simon wrote her third children's book, "The Fisherman's Song", which was based on the song of the same name from her 1990 album "Have You Seen Me Lately". The same year, she performed a duet with Pl??cido Domingo on the song "The Last Night Of The World" (from the Miss Saigon musical) on Domingo's album The Broadway I Love. A year later, Simon wrote the music for the Nora Ephron film "This Is My Life". In 1993, she contributed the song "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" for the film Sleepless In Seattle and recorded the same song in combo with "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" with Frank Sinatra for his album Duets.
1993 saw Simon recording a contemporary opera called Romulus Hunt (having been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera Association and the Kennedy Center) and published of her fourth children's book, "The Nighttime Chauffeur". She also contributed to Andreas Vollenweider's album Eolian Minstrel. Simon co-wrote the song "Private Fires" with Vollenweider and was featured vocalist on the song.
In 1994, she covered "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" for Ken Burns' 1994 film Baseball , as well as a recording of "I've Got a Crush On You" for Larry Adler's covers album The Glory of Gershwin. That same year, Simon recorded another album of original songs, Letters Never Sent, and contributed a Christmas song, "The Night Before Christmas", to the movie and soundtrack Mixed Nuts. In April 1995, Simon surprised thousands of commuters at New York's Grand Central Terminal with an unannounced performance which was filmed for a Lifetime Television Special. It was also released on home video in December of that year. Also in 1995, she put aside years of stage fright long enough to perform on an American concert tour in conjunction with Hall & Oates. That same year, Clouds In My Coffee, a boxed set (of highlights from her career from 1965 to 1995) was released. On August 30, 1995, Simon made a rare joint appearance with her ex-husband, James Taylor, for a concert on Martha's Vineyard. Dubbed "Livestock '95", it was a benefit for the Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society, with over 10,000 people in attendance. She performed a duet with Mindy Jostyn on the song "Time, Be On My Side", on Jostyn's 1995 album Five Miles From Hope.
Simon wrote the theme songs to several more movies, including "Two Little Sisters" from the 1996 movie Marvin's Room and "In Two Straight Lines" from the 1998 movie Madeline. 1997 saw the release of Simon's third standards album, Film Noir, as well as her fifth children's book, "Midnight Farm". In 1998, Simon was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy and received chemotherapy. In 1999 The Very Best Of Carly Simon: Nobody Does It Better, a UK-only greatest hits album, was released. That year, Simon was the featured vocalist for "Your Silver Key" on the album Cosmopoly by Andreas Vollenweider.
During the 1990s, the American press reported on an incident between Carly and the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, at a Joni Mitchell concert at New York's Fez Club. Some reports stated that a drunk and disorderly Hynde grabbed Simon around the neck and punched her, although Carly, herself, attempted to put these rumours to rest on her official website in 2002. Numerous witnesses, however, claim that Simon was, indeed, assaulted by Hynde.
In 2000, she returned from her illness with The Bedroom Tapes, her first album of original songs in almost six years. In 2001, Simon performed on "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)" with Janet Jackson on Jackson's album All for You. She also contributed back-up vocals on two songs, "Don't Turn Away" and "East Of Eden", for Mindy Jostyn's 2001 album Blue Stories. In November 2001, "Let the River Run" was used in a public service ad for the United States Postal Service. Entitled "Pride", it was produced to boost public confidence and postal worker morale in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the 2001 Anthrax attacks.
In 2002, Simon recorded a Christmas album, Christmas Is Almost Here, for Rhino Records , while she was in Los Angeles to lend support to her son Ben Taylor and his band. That same year, Simon personally chose all of the songs for a two disc anthology album, to be titled Anthology for Rhino Records. 2003 saw a re-release of her 2002 Christmas album with two extra tracks and called Christmas Is Almost Here Again on Rhino Records. The two extra tracks, "White Christmas" and "Forgive", were also released as a single. Simon also performed several concerts during the 2004 holiday season at Harlem's Apollo Theater , along with BeBe Winans, son Ben and daughter Sally, Rob Thomas, Livingston Taylor, Mindy Jostyn and Kate Taylor, along with other members of the Taylor and Simon family.
Among Simon's recent work, there were songs for the Disney Winnie the Pooh films Piglet's Big Movie in 2003 and Pooh's Heffalump Movie in 2005. Several of her songs were also featured in the 2004 movie Little Black Book that starred Brittany Murphy and Holly Hunter. Simon appears in a cameo role as herself at the end of the movie. 2004 also saw the release of her fourth greatest hits album, Reflections: Carly Simon's Greatest Hits, which peaked at #22 on the Billboard charts that year (#25 in the UK). The album became Carly's first Gold-certified disc since the late 1980s.
In 2005, she released her fourth album of standards, titled Moonlight Serenade. It reached #7 on the Billboard Album charts, her highest-charting album in nearly 30 years. To promote Moonlight Serenade, Simon performed two concerts onboard the Queen Mary 2 which were recorded and released on DVD in 2005. She also performed in a concert tour in the United States - her first tour in 10 years. Simon also sang a duet, "Angel Of The Darkest Night", with Mindy Jostyn on Jostyn's 2005 album Coming Home , which was released several months after Jostyn's death, on March 10, 2005. As one of Simon's closest friends, Jostyn was married to Jacob Brackman, Simon's long-time friend and musical collaborator. In 2005, she became involved in the legal defense of musician and family friend John Fort?© with his struggle against a federal incarceration.
The following year, Carly recorded yet her fifth album of covers, a collection of "soothing songs and lullabies" which was called Into White for Columbia Records. The eclectic collection featured covers of songs by Cat Stevens, Judy Garland, The Beatles and the Everly Brothers , as well as two new original songs. It also features the vocal collaborations of her children, Ben Taylor and Sally Taylor, both accomplished artists. Released in 2007, it became Billboard Magazine's "Hot Shot Debut", entering the chart at number #13.
Simon is also the featured vocalist on four songs on Andreas Vollenweider's holiday album Midnight Clear, released in 2006: "Midnight Clear", "Suspended Note", "Hymn to the Secret Heart" and "Forgive". "Forgive" is a song Simon wrote for her own holiday album on RHINO Records from 2002 (re-released in an expanded version in 2003), Christmas Is Almost Here.
In March 2008, it was announced that Simon had signed to the Starbucks label Hear Music. She released a new album entitled This Kind of Love with them in the spring of 2008. The album is her first collection of original songs since 2000's The Bedroom Tapes.
On June 19, 2008 Carly and her son, Ben, performed "You're So Vain" together on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite radio.
Simon is currently recording an album of reworkings of many of her classic songs, to be released in Fall of 2009 on Iris Records.
Film and television appearances
Besides music, Simon has also appeared (as herself) in films, such as the 1985 film Perfect, and an uncredited appearance in the 2004 film Little Black Book. On television, she appeared (also as herself) in a 1989 episode of Thirtysomething and voiced a 1995 episode of Frasier entitled "Roz in the Doghouse".
Simon married fellow singer-songwriter James Taylor on November 3, 1972. Simon and Taylor had two children, Sarah "Sally" Maria Taylor (born January 7, 1974) and Benjamin "Ben" Simon Taylor (born January 22, 1977), both of whom are musicians and political activists. Simon and Taylor divorced in 1983. In the June 20, 2004, issue of Askmen.com, Simon said that she no longer speaks to her ex-husband, James Taylor. "I would say our relationship is non-existent. It's not the way I want it." On October 4, 2007, Simon became a grandmother, when her daughter Sally gave birth to a son, Bodhi Taylor Bragonier.
Prior to her marriage to Taylor, Simon had been romantically linked to, among others: Mick Jagger, Cat Stevens, Keith Hernandez, Kris Kristofferson, and Warren Beatty. She was briefly engaged in England to William Donaldson in the 1960s(who jilted fiancee Sara Miles for her). Donaldson described her as "the answer to any sane man's prayers; funny, quick, erotic, extravagantly talented." She also was engaged to musician Russ Kunkel, from 1985 to 1986.
Simon married James Hart, a writer, poet, and businessman, on December 23, 1987. The couple divorced in 2007. Simon is now dating Laparoscopic surgeon, Richard Koehler, who lives in Plymouth, Mass.
Simon underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery for breast cancer during 1997 and 1998.
Simon currently lives on Martha's Vineyard and is associated with a store in Vineyard Haven named Midnight Farm, the title of one of her series of children's books from the late 1980s and 1990s.
In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter, which was published on May 1, 2008, Simon was asked about the possibility of a performance in the True Colors Tour. She responded, "The part that I could be involved in is the gay and lesbian part. The part that would be hard for me is to commit to a tour, because I'm not very comfortable being onstage. But the part that would be easiest for me would be singing on behalf of all of us. I don't consider myself to be not gay... I've enlarged all of my possibilities. I have a lot of extremely personal stories to tell about that, but we won't go into that right now. Let's just say that it just depends upon who I'm with."
Simon addressed the rumors about her sexuality created by the interview on The Howard Stern Show which aired June 18, 2008. "Have I made love to a woman? No. Now, I have been 'come on' to, but I was too uptight. But I wish that I had. I think that I'm too old for that (now). I have a fantastic boyfriend now who's almost a woman."
Awards and recognition
Best New Artist, 1971.
Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television, 1990, "Let the River Run" from Working Girl.
Best Song, 1988, "Let the River Run" from Working Girl.
Golden Globe Awards:
Best Original Song, 1989, "Let the River Run" from Working Girl.
Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994..