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Carly Simon: Fair Vanity

On October 27th, 2009, Carly Simon and her son Ben Taylor were at daytrotter’s Illinois studios recording four songs for They are wonderful and imma gonna get back to them but first a word or two about Carly Simon.

Back in my High School days I had huge fights with my good friend Henri Chahinian about just how good Carly Simon was. I thought she was alright for a coupla songs but could never maintain it, he worshipped her. I thought she looked like a transexual Mick Jagger, he thought she was luscious. As an aside I went in search of Henri on google a couple of years ago and discoved a memorial for a man of the right age with the same name who sadly died of AIDS, along with his significant other, in the eighties. I am guessing it was the same man (the picture looked like him).

Now I am not suggesting you need to be gay to fancy Carly Simon -I am suggesting IT HELPS TO BE GAY TO FANCY Carly Simon.

Anyway, in the world of popular singer-songwriters of the seventies, and if you, like the rest of the world, ignore the late great Judee Sill, there are three names you need to think about. Joni Mitchel, Carole King and Carly Simon. Joni was the artist, carole was the popsinger and Carly was the celebrity. Her career was okay but nothing great with one exception. No Secrets is a sexual trapdoor of the early 70s. It heralds the end of the sixties (and, incidentally, the end of feminism as we knew it though it had a way to go). The sense and sensuality of this clutch of songs echoes through Carly’s career.

“Anticipation” and “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” came before No Secrets, “Nobody does It better” and “Mockingbird” came after, but No Secrets was where it happened. The secret is Carly, the step-daughter of the Simon who owned Simon -Schuster, was a part of the ruling class wearing the garb of bohemia. She was cloaked in a privilege singularly rarified where dating James Taylor (let alone marrying him) was slumming it. And so what she did was beyond (which is why I called it post) feminism. There was no FEMINIST implication to her music, the point was beyond moot. Her fights were with egocentric men and drugs and a backstabbing social circle. Hippies? Wearing a kaftan didn’t make her a hippie, showing her nipples did not make her a slut. No Secrets best moments (it was all good stuff though) , weirdness like “His Friends Are More Than Fond Of Robin”, perfect pop smears “We Have No Secrets’ and is it Mick? Is it Geffen? Is it all them? “You’re So Vain”.

And afterwards Carly was popular here and there but, really, and despite the awards, I am not particularly thrilled. Plus she had terrible stage fright for decades and never toured and the one time I had the chance to see her I was broke and couldn’t get a ticket.

Which leads her to and her duets with son Ben Taylor. Ben’s earlier session with the website cum production company is his best recorded work to date and this collab is mainly excellent. “No Freedom” isn’t up to much but “Let The River Run”, Carly’s Golden globe, Grammy and Oscar winning song from the 80s movie Working Girl, is nearly perfectly beautiful. Much better than I remembered it. Taylor sings a lovely harmony for his mother and it is wonderful to hear them together. “After It’s Over” is a very good Ben Taylor song which he kidnaps from Mommy (they essentially switch the places they held on “River”). Best of all is an angry (as opposed to somewhat sarcastic) “You’re So Vain”, the strummed guitars ringing and clanging, and Simon stretching a word from verse to verse.

And it’s free on

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