Editor’s Note: Our recurring “Portrait of the Artist” playlist series pays homage to the artists responsible for the most inspired and indispensable discographies of all time. We hope you enjoy these tributes, and stay tuned for many more to come.
Quentin Harrison’s latest book ‘Record Redux: Carly Simon’ is available via Amazon and his official store, and follows the recently released second edition of his acclaimed ‘Record Redux: Spice Girls’ available to order here.
Don't do it.
Don't read the name Carly Simon and immediately place her in the box of 1970s nostalgia. Granted, one could forgive you, if you're only familiar with a clutch of her initial hits from the decade that includes “Anticipation,” “You're So Vain,” or “Haven't Got Time for the Pain.” Rather, look past those staples into the broader catalog that has, both consciously and unconsciously, shaped the singer-songwriter approach―for both men and women.
Carly Simon, third daughter of publisher magnate Richard Simon, used the private emotional turmoil and intrigue of her childhood and young adulthood as a canvas, upon which she penned compelling character sketches and semi-autobiographical stories, set against sonic backdrops moored in gorgeous folk and chamber pop with her eponymous, Grammy Award winning debut album in 1971. By the conclusion of the last decade, Simon had musically toured the genres of jazz, disco, rock, R&B, pop and, yes, even dance music. That's to say nothing of her turn at “standards,” her approach to them so progressive at the time when she delivered her first album of them in 1981 with Torch, her label didn't know how to market the set.
Critics that championed her peer Joni Mitchell yet all the while dismissed Simon's joyful, but always cerebral embrace of sexuality via her songwriting overlooked the fact that Carly Simon was indeed a multi-dimensional artist, and a woman unafraid to write about sex in a myriad of contexts.
Carly Simon is vital, she is contemporary, she is the voice of women now as much as she was when she arrived on the public stage in 1971. Simon has cut over 22 albums, each with their own singles, classic charters and unsung gems, her canon axiomatic evidence of her creative vibrancy. Now, more than ever, it's time to put an end to the notion of Carly Simon as “your mother's music.”
To assist with this endeavor, I've compiled tracks from the various corners of Simon's discography. There is a selection of her hits, familiar and lesser known respectively, and a crop of her deeper album cuts from various epochs in her recording career. Through these songs, listeners old and new will embrace Carly Simon not as a relic of another time, but as one of the many everlasting super-heroines of pop music she has always been.