Celebrating Seniors – Carly Simon Turns 70 – 2/3
Carly Simon: Inspirations for You’re So Vain & James Taylor – Part 2 of 3
Featuring 4 vintage Carly Simon live music videos – I’ve Got to Have You (1971), You’re So Vain (1971), Mockingbird (1974), Nobody Does It Better (1974)
On May 21 of 1971 Carly Simon met Kris Kristofferson when she opened for his New York City concert; they sang duets onstage after his set. Back at his apartment that night, he began writing a song for her, I’ve Got To Have You.
Kris and Carly began a love affair that lasted through the summer, living together until Kristofferson headed to L.A., and Simon to London to work with Cat Steven’s producer, Paul Samwell-Smith.
(Carly Simon 1978 Photo: Pam Frank / Elektra Records | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
While recording this 2nd album, Anticipation (released November 1971), Paul Samwell-Smith and Carly Simon also had a love affair.
Many of the songs on Anticipation were inspired by her romances – Legend in Your Own Time and Anticipation about Cat Stevens; and Three Days, about Kris Kristofferson and her feelings for him. Also included is the song Kristofferson wrote for her the first night they met, I’ve Got to Have You. Anticipation became even more well known to baby boomers over the years, as it’s been used in countless Heinz Ketchup commercials.
Below, Carly Simon singing I’ve Got to Have You 24 years later, at her Grand Central Station concert (April, 1995 shortly before she turned 50).
On November 9th, 1971 Carly Simon met newly single James Taylor (he’d broke up with Joni Mitchell) backstage at his Carnegie Hall concert, and from that night on they were together. In a 2015 Carly Simon interview with The New York Times, she said:
March 1, 1971. The couple lived together in the house James Taylor was building on Martha’s Vineyard; Simon still lives on Martha’s Vineyard today.
Before Carly Simon and James Taylor married in November 1972, she dallied with Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, and Jack Nicholson. According to Sheila Weller’s 2008 biography Girls Like Us, Carly Simon brought a song she’d just written titled Ballad of a Vain Man on an LA visit in May 1972 to producer Richard Perry.
This song would morph into the pop-rock mega-hit, You’re So Vain – speculation about whom this song is about persists today. While recording her 3rd album No Secrets in London that year, Mick Jagger dropped into the studio the day it was being recorded and his voice (uncredited) can be heard singing backup on the original version of You’re So Vain. Below, singing You’re So Vain in her 1987 Martha’s Vineyard concert.
In early 1973 the No Secrets album was released and You’re So Vain went right to #1 on the Pop and Adult Contemporary charts; the album was certified platinum in 1997 on it’s 25th anniversary. Having already won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1972, Carly Simon received multiple Grammy nominations in 1973 for the album and single; however, she would not win a Grammy for either of them until 2004 when she was granted the Grammy Hall of Fame Award for You’re So Vain – 31 years later.
Meanwhile, James Taylor’s new album One Man Dog had come in November 1972 and it didn’t come near to matching either his previous successes or Carly’s new album.
Also on that album the hit single The Right Thing To Do is about James, her worries about him (he had been a heroin addict since 1966), and optimism over their relationship. Daughter Sarah “Sally” Taylor was born a year later, in January 1974. Throughout the seventies both Carly and James recorded music, often singing on each other’s albums – and James Taylor toured.
Below, Carly Simon and James Taylor singing Mockingbird, their 1974 hit single.
After Carly’s 1975 Playing Possum album hit Top 10, her next album was not as successful. She wouldn’t have another hit until the 1977 hit single Nobody Does It Better, the theme for the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me. Below, Carly Simon sings Nobody Does It Better in her 1987 Martha’s Vineyard concert
Meanwhile, Carly Simon struggled with James Taylor’s heroin addiction and his infidelities while on the road. She told journalist Nigel Farndale in a 2010 interview for The Telegraph, that she tried to hit Taylor with a guitar in 1976 when he told her he’d picked up a venereal disease while touring; she in turn told him she was pregnant (son Ben Taylor was born in January 1977).
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