Rock and roll biographer Davis was granted Simon’s full participation and approval for this involved, revelatory but restrained and courteous look back at her full, rich life as a singer and folk-rock icon—and as a result the work often sounds gooey and promotional. Davis knowledgeably fleshes out the early folk scene, when the Simon Sisters, Lucy and Carly—daughters of the co-founder of Simon & Schuster, Dick Simon, and private school–educated young ladies in matching dresses from Riverdale, N.Y.—won their big breakthrough in 1964 playing “Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod” on the national TV show Hootenanny. When Lucy got married, Carly Simon took off on her own, and despite crippling stage fright, fear of flying, and a residual stutter, managed to secure a record deal with Jac Holzman at Electra, in 1970. In a burst of creative collaboration with lyricist Jake Brackman, she proved from the get-go that she was a talented songwriter, marketed in the 1970s as a kind of feminist troubadour, with hit after hit, attracting famous boyfriends like James Taylor, soon to be her husband, and winning a Grammy in 1972 for Best New Artist. Later her music would be dubbed “shrink couch rock,” but her achievements over the decades are remarkable, plentiful, and well earned. Chronicler Davis has an inconsistent habit of starting chapters in the present tense, but he possesses a fluid, natural style, and there are promised photographs (not seen) by Carly’s brother, Peter Simon. Agent: David Vigliano. (Feb.)
“[A] revealing page-turner of a biography.” —More.com
“Stephen Davis reveals the fault lines in the life of an artist who, despite her popular success, has never received the critical respect accorded other singer-songwriters of her generation.” – Washington Post
“Rendered out of love and respect for Simon and her legacy…Shines” – Boston Globe
“A sympathetic and breezy account of Carly Simon's life and (many) loves.” – Star Tribune
“A revealing look at the singer's hit songs, famous friends (Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty), rocky marriage to James Taylor, and struggle to hold on to stardom in late middle age.” – O Magazine
“Revelatory” – PW
The story of singer-songwriter Carly Simon's rise to stardom. Journalist and self-described fan Davis (LZ-'75: The Lost Chronicles of Led Zeppelin's 1975 American Tour, 2010, etc.) provides an unauthorized but intimate glimpse into the life of a musical icon. The daughter of publishing mogul Richard L. Simon (co-founder of Simon & Schuster), Carly grew up in a household filled with American royalty, including composer George Gershwin and baseball icon Jackie Robinson. The guests were representative of Carly and her father's two shared interests, music and baseball, the former of which encouraged at least two Simon sisters to enter the music business. Yet beneath the family's star-studded exterior remained many deeply rooted problems, including the Simon parents' infidelities, creating what Carly later described as an "atmosphere of erotica." While music remains the focus of Davis' book, the author pays equal attention to the tabloid-like details of the Simon family's home life, as well as some of Carly's better-known love affairs, including her 9-year marriage to fellow musician James Taylor. Simon's tumultuous marriage to the drug-addicted Taylor--which produced two children but ended in divorce--provides the fodder for much of the latter half of the book. Told in strict chronological fashion, Davis' straightforward reporting accurately recounts Simon's surface story but will leave some readers questioning just what complexities might linger beneath the surface. A competent retelling of one woman's successful--though personally troubled--emergence into the 1970s music scene.