Sunday, June 26, 2011

Saturday Song Selection - Carly Simon: The Right Thing to Do

“As a singer I tried on all these hats, these voices, these clothes, and eventually out came me.”

On the joyous occasion of her 66th birthday, this week’s “Saturday Song Selection” pays tribute to talented, and pleasant to the peepers, singer-songwriter Carly Simon. And despite the already expressed observation on her favorable physical features, I will do my best to keep this from being yet another in a growing succession of nycityman tales of teenage lust. So, in the attempt to do so, let’s begin this entry with some biographical information about the lovely and enchanting Ms. Simon (uh oh, there I go again.)

Carly was raised in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, a charming neighborhood which also happens to be the residence of nycityman’s very good friends, Joan and Scott, and while that will mean absolutely nothing to you, the reader, and has no relevance to the telling of the tale of Simon’s life, they’re great people and deserving of a shout out (as the kid’s say) whenever the opportunity should present itself. Carly, was both a child of privilege, as her father was the very Simon of “Simon and Shuster” fame (no, not the vaudeville act from the Orpheum circuit but rather the publishing house) and also a child whose family had far more than their fair share of artistic ability and creativity. Her oldest sister Joanna was a famed and accomplished opera singer. Her second sister Lucy, like Carly, is also a singer-songwriter and composer of the Broadway musical, “The Secret Garden,” as well as Carly’s partner in the short-lived musical duo, the Simon Sisters. Long before Carly Simon came to prominence with her first hit song, “The Way I’ve Always Heard it Should Be” the sister singers had some minor notoriety in 1964 with a song entitled, "Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod.” Completing the successful sibling roster is younger brother, Peter, a highly-respected professional photographer. While I would someday love to join them for a celebratory Christmas dinner, I would imagine it would be quite intimidating and perhaps possibly extremely competitive.

In the arena of awards (admit it, something we all desperately yearn for - “and the winner for most self-indulgent and pointless blog, nycityman and “…and several butcher’s aprons,“ - be still my covetous heart) Carly received the Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe awards for “Let the River Run" the song she composed and performed for the 1988 movie “Working Girl,” the story of a large-coiffed Staten Island lass whose popularity inevitably lead us to be cursed with the tanned and mono-syllabic meanderings of the over-indulgent neanderthals of “Jersey Shore.” Other honors for Ms. Simon include the 1971 Grammy for Best New Artist, her 1994 induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the 2004 Grammy Hall of Fame Award for her song, “You’re So Vain,“ and her nycityman Lifetime Achievement Award for All-Time Fetching Rock-era Performer.

One would be remiss in not mentioning Simon’s personal life as she has had a number of well-publicized relationships with, among others, Cat Stevens, Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson and, of course former spouse, James Taylor. Other notables who enjoyed rumored romances with Carly (warning: obvious joke set-up ahead) 60’s funnyman and Spike Jones Band member - Doodles Weaver, pop-meister Tommy Roe (that thought makes me Dizzy,) the Doodletown Pipers, the cast of TV’s “Hazel,” and an extremely young nycityman (a rumor primarily propagated by me.).

For me, Carly opened my eyes and ears to a genre of the rock field that at first was somewhat overshadowed by the standard - bass, drums, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, lead singer, male oriented rock group. It was my love and appreciation for Simon’s talent that lead me to explore other female singer-songwriters of the period – Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Melanie (ah Melanie, there’s a name that seems buried in a past era, but still truly deserves to be heard) and Dory Previn (Andre’s ex, much under-appreciated if not completely forgotten, look into her.)

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to see most of my favorite artists perform, but as Carly Simon has a famous and severe case of stage fright and so appears live fairly infrequently, it seemed destined that she would join that relatively short list of favorites that I would never get to enjoy in person. Of course, the majority of said missed singers have passed on long ago (curse you, Al Jolson, why couldn’t you hang on to 110!?) But then fortune, fate and formal-wear stepped in and Carly was mine. Based almost solely on the fact that I happen to own a tuxedo, I was asked to be a last minute seat-filler at a corporate charity event, and Ms. Simon, along with her progeny sired with Sweet Baby James, were the entertainment for the evening. Sometimes one just finds Rowan and Martin’s fickle finger of fate unexpectedly pointing your way. Not only did I get to see Carly live, but it was gratis and in a much more intimate atmosphere than any regular concert venue would have allowed. The moral of the story, I think it’s quite clear and straightly simple - a proper adult male should own a tuxedo. To quote Jack Donaghy, “It’s after six, what am I a farmer, Lemon.”

More Saturday, June 25th Birthdays -

1984 Lauren Bush - Niece of war criminal and former illegal President, George W. Bush. A concerned and active environmentalist or as she’s referred to around the Bush dinner table - the smart, communist one.

1979 Brandi Burkhardt - Miss Maryland Teen USA 1997, lovely and very talented star of my all-time favorite musical, “A Tale of Two Cities” (CD and DVD available on Amazon or click the link on the blog - you won’t be sorry.) And in a first for the almost year run of, “…and several butcher’s aprons” Brandi is a birthday celebrant that nycityman actually knows! And you thought I never left my room.

1975 Linda Cardellini - Star of “Freaks and Geeks" and “ER.” She gets a mention because “Freaks and Geeks" must be seen, Judd Apatow’s intelligent and well-written TV series is so superior to his, far too often, sophomoric film work. Plus, she’s really pretty and reminds me of my friend, Jessica. (This blog is just getting pathetically more personal with every posting, isn’t it?)

1954 Sonia Sotomayor - A native of the Bronx, she is only the third female Supreme Court justice and the first of Hispanic heritage. She’s from New York, she’s a woman, she’s Hispanic and she was appointed by Barack Obama, consequently the Right hates her, and so we more reasonable folk must honor her - if only to anger them.

From her 1973 album, “No Secrets,” reaching number 4 on the chart - Carly Simon with "The Right Thing to Do.”


  1. I've always enjoyed Carly's music. One of my favorites is Coming Around Again which has a wonderful rendition of Itsy Bitsy Spider at the end of it. I often sang it to my boys when they were young. I didn't do it justice though. I just loved it's alternate melody to a standard children's tune. Now I'm told by them in a joking manner to sing solo... so low they can't hear me.
    Well maybe there's time to get to the grandchildren! lol
    Wonderful work!

  2. I'm with you Su, another great Carly song. Give it another shot with the grandchildren and sing out loud and proud! Who wouldn't enjoy being serenaded? Now, next time out with a song posting, I think it's time to get back to Bobby.

  3. I love Carly Simon's music and after reading your blog I realize I haven't listened to it in awhile. Now you've inspired me to get some of her music (all of my Carly music is on cassette tapes). Thanks for the posting on Carly, nycityman!

  4. Thank you, Lisa. And after posting this I too realized that I haven't really listened to Carly Simon in a long time either. While my old cassette tapes are all gone, like you, I haven't repurchased her stuff on CD, luckily I still have her LPs and my turntable. Thanks so much for reading the blog, much appreciated!

  5. Thanks nycm, for reminding me of Carly who I not only enjoyed but wanted to BE. I mean, can you imagine what the dinner table conversation at the Simon table must have been like? AND to get those legs too, putting all talents aside .... well, just doesn't seem fair does it? Love this blog! Jamie

  6. Hi Jamie, One could certainly chose a worse goal as a kid than wanting to be Carly Simon. For awhile I wanted to write songs like another Simon - Paul. Now I think it would be more fun to be up on stage swinging in a tux like Sinatra or Darin. Speaking of which, I think it's time to get back to a Bobby Darin song for the next music post and I hope you read that one too. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  7. kristoferson is her inspiration.