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In 1976, Carly made her only appearance on Saturday Night Live. It was a pre-taped performance—a rare occurrence on that show—because Simon suffered terrible bouts of stage fright. In the appearance, she sang two songs: "Half A Chance" and "You're So Vain."
-----Carly Elisabeth Simon was born in New York City, New York, and raised in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx. Her father was Richard L. Simon (co-founder of Simon & Schuster), a pianist who often played Chopin and Beethoven at home. Her mother was a civil rights activist and singer. She attended Riverdale Country School. She also briefly attended Sarah Lawrence College and joined Alpha Gamma Delta, before dropping out to pursue music.
Simon's career began with a short-lived music group with her sister Lucy as The Simon Sisters. They had a minor hit in 1964 called "Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod," and made three albums together before Lucy left to get married and start a family. Later, Carly Simon collaborated with eclectic New York rockers Elephant's Memory for about six months. She also appeared in the 1971 Milos Forman movie Taking Off, playing an auditioning singer, and sang "Long Term Physical Effects," which was included in the soundtrack for the movie.
Her solo music career began in 1971, with the self-titled Carly Simon on Elektra Records. The album contained her breakthrough top-ten hit "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be." It was followed quickly by a second album, Anticipation. The title song from that album, written about a romance between Simon and Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam,) was a significant hit, reaching #3 at Easy Listening radio and #13 on Billboard's Hot 100.
|With Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam)|
|Carly With James Taylor|
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The album achieved Gold status that year, but by the album's 25th anniversary in 1997, the album had been certified Platinum. "You're So Vain" received Grammy Award nominations for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Additionally, in 2008, it was listed at #72 on the Billboard Hot 100's list of the top 100 songs from the chart's first 50 years, August 1958 through July 2008.
The subject of the song itself has become one of the biggest enigmas in popular music, as this track also carries one of the most famous lyrics: "You're so vain/I bet you think this song is about you." Simon has never publicly admitted who the song is about. On August 5, 2003, she auctioned off the information to the winner of a charity function for a grand total of US$50,000, with the condition that the winner (a television executive, Dick Ebersol on NBC's Today Show) not reveal who it is.
Later in 1973, the follow-up single, "The Right Thing To Do," was another sizable hit, reaching #4 Adult Contemporary and #17 Pop. That same year Simon performed on Lee Clayton's album Lee Clayton and co-sang on the song "New York Suite 409" and on Livingston Taylor's album Over the Rainbow and sang with both Livingston and his famous brother, and Carly's husband at the time, James Taylor, on the songs "Loving Be My New Horizon" and "Pretty Woman."
In 1974, Simon followed the smash No Secrets album with Hotcakes, which reached #3 on Billboard's Album Chart and was certified Gold, though it did not match the sales of No Secrets.
Hotcakes included two top ten singles, "Mockingbird," a duet with James Taylor that peaked at #5 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart, and "Haven't Got Time For the Pain," which hit #2 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. In 1975, Elektra released her first greatest-hits album, The Best of Carly Simon, which became Simon's all time best selling disc and eventually reached Triple-Platinum status in the U.S.
Simon's record sales declined considerably with 1975's Playing Possum and 1976's Another Passenger. Playing Possum was a Top Ten album, with a Top 40 single "Attitude Dancing" and two other charting singles, but Another Passenger produced only one single, "It Keeps You Running," which barely scraped into the top 50.
In 1977, Simon had a surprise international hit with "Nobody Does It Better," the theme to the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. "Nobody Does It Better" remains Simon's second-biggest U.S. hit, after "You're So Vain." It was 1977's biggest Adult Contemporary hit, where it held at #1 for seven straight weeks. It also received Grammy nominations for Song Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance Female.
In 1986, Simon signed with Arista Records and soon rebounded from her career slump. Her first album for Arista, Coming Around Again, gave Simon another international hit with the title track (which was featured in the film Heartburn), returning her to the Billboard Pop Top 20 and the U.K. Top 10 (It also garnered her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance). The album also featured the Top 10 Adult Contemporary hits "Give Me All Night," "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of," "All I Want Is You" and a cover of "As Time Goes By" (featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica). The album itself was her first Gold release in nine years, and went Platinum in 1988.
Simon underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and reconstructive surgery for breast cancer during 1997 and 1998. There had been a lump in her breast for several years before then, but her doctors had advised her against surgery. She said that she felt "a little angry with myself" over the fact that she didn't insist on taking it out sooner.