by Garrett Sawyer
I promised more overlooked pearls in my last article. And here they are!
Between the infamous cover photo and songs like this one Simon's fifth album, "Playing Possum", didn't do as well as it ought to have, sales-wise. Co-written with Jacob Brackman this was easily the most infamous song.
On the surface it would seem that Simon was single-handedly undoing much of what the women's movement had achieved (comparing yourself to a slave is not something that would endear yourself to the women's liberation movement, especially when you do so as vividly as this).
Not only does Simon express utter self-debasement but sexual longing as well. You wouldn't be faulted if you came away with a first impression of a woman who was totally dependent, like the unfortunate women of earlier generations.
Yet Simon disputed that interpretation by pointing out in interviews that the song was meant to address unfinished issues that needed attention, i.e. that despite all that has been accomplished to strengthen women and their roles in the family and society Simon still had deeply entrenched feelings of dependency which cry out for redress.
To be fair to her she never said she liked feeling this way. Give it a listen with this in mind (Sample lyric: "The clock beside my pillow has ticked away the night, like a heartbeat mocking me until the light").
2) Half A Chance
This is another song co-written with Jacob Brackman. It's the leadoff song from the follow-up album to "Playing Possum", 1976's "Another Passenger". The lyrics aren't groundbreaking: a simple exhortation to stick with a relationship even though the going gets rough.
However, if I had to pick one song of Carly Simon's that wasn't a hit that should have been this would probably be the one. It's got "Top 10" written all over it (Sample lyric: "There's always times when your legs feel broken but you still don't drop out of the dance").
3) Fairweather Father
No matter how many times Simon told people how James Taylor was not a "fairweather father" (she even said so in the liner notes) few people believed her. You can hardly blame them.
Even Simon herself once said of James fathering skills "He's a great... appreciator." Not exactly the most ringing endorsement in the world you must admit.
To give credit the song was not completely autobiographical; by all accounts Simon was an exceptionally devoted mother to Sally and Ben so the verse about her abandoning father and baby only to be found in a "seedy Greek diner" is lyrical license.
For your interest the worst Carly ever did was spend the night in a hotel early in their marriage after a knock-down drag-out fight one evening in 1975 immediately after the last guest had left a birthday party she had thrown for him (Sample lyric: But the mother advertised as a bargain wife. She'd make things easy for the rest of his life").
You might not agree with my choices of unsung Carly Simon songs but you have to concede that the lady was churning music and lyrics out at a steady rate of impressive quality. Not bad for a "slave".
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