by Garrett Sawyer
By this stage in her career Carly Simon's songs were at a consistently high artistic level. Not only was she creative but she was innovative as well, coming up with song ideas out of left field that other artists could only envy. Here are some more examples:
1) In Times When My Head
The song begins with her relationship to James in a pleasant and comfortable state; she even enjoys the visual attention her husband gets from other women. It's Simon who strays first (no reason given) and can't get over it.
Now the looks from other women feel like a threat, not a complement. She desperately looks for evidence of his unfaithfulness to assuage her guilt and misses the ease that she felt before her infidelity.
This moody ballad with thundering toms (think "You're So Vain" and you've got the essentials) is also probably lyrical license. If Simon ever strayed on James Taylor during their marriage she hid it impressively well.
This song is pretty convincing evidence, though that she must have at least thought about it (Sample lyric: In times when my head was together about you I was an expert at silence").
2) Boys In The Trees
This soft, wistful little acoustic guitar-laden melody is an unsung gem. She's reminiscing about the summer home she grew up in at an age when she first became conscious of boys.
Her intense physical desire is all mixed together with confusion, uncertainty, guilt and a host of other emotions that overwhelm girls this age.
You can practically see the pubescent young Carly daydreaming out the window, fantasizing about this boy or that (Sample lyric: "Last night I slept in sheets the color of fire. Tonight I lie alone again and curse my own desires, sentenced first to burn and then to freeze").
3) De Bat (Fly In Me Face)
I just had to include this one. The goofy sense of humor Simon cultivated as a child is on full display here, tongue firmly planted in cheek. This song is pure slapstick.
In the same way that the Pink Panther's Inspector Clouseau was comically ambushed each time he came home by his assistant, Cato, Simon's home now features a bat who's taken up residence and who thinks it's fun to blind-side her when she's not looking. He's fast, he's devious and he's out to get her.
James Taylor himself provided the guitar in a Caribbean arrangement punctuated by a cast of background vocalists who not only sing but provide commentary as well.
Simon herself cracks up on the mike at one point, the engineer caught it and it made it to the final mix; God only knows what made her laugh. I challenge you to listen to this song without smiling (Sample lyric: "De bat he rat got wings. All the children know that. What I need to know from the lord is how you get de wings on the cat").
Now don't you wish you could write like that? I do. Sometimes I wish I were her trashcan; the songs Carly Simon throws out are probably better than what most of us mortals manage to produce on a good day.
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