5 Early Carly Simon Essentials

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5 Early Carly Simon Essentials

carly simon
Carly Simon. Photo by Ed Jenner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

Carly Simon’s self-titled debut LP arrived 50-years ago this month, in 1971. It was a grand first step that scored Simon both a Top 10 single with “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” and a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Produced by Eddie Kramer, who had previously worked with Joe Cocker and Jimi Hendrix, the album’s 10-songs weave a pop tapestry of psychedelia, folk and country-rock, confident and self-assured, all bearing the cutting lyrics and elegant composition that would become hallmarks of Simon’s work in the years to come.   

In 1972, she struck commercial gold – Platinum to be precise – with her third studio album, No Secrets, home to her most enduring hit, “You’re So Vain.” The ambiguous ode to a self-absorbed lover was an instant classic, so ubiquitous that if she’d never written anything again, she’d probably still be famous. Rather, she has spent the past five decades building a truly prolific discography that includes 23 studio albums and 41 singles, with almost all finding their place in the charts. It's a catalogue that sits like a crown jewel of the singer-songwriter era, all stemming from her stunning debut.

We’re celebrating the album's 50th anniversary with a handful of her early hits below! 

Carly Simon | “That's The Way I Always Heard It Should Be” [1971]

Carly Simon put her most independent foot forward with her first single to hit the charts. “That's The Way I Always Heard It Should Be” is lyrically stark and devastatingly good, making it impossible to argue with her desire to define her own destiny. It was an emerging theme of the singer-songwriter era that was fortified by other gilded female voices, including Carole King’s chart-topping second album, Tapestry and Joni Mitchell’s defining fourth LP, Blue which both arrived soon after. 

Carly Simon | “Anticipation” [1971]

Just nine months after, Simon followed up her debut release with Anticipation, an album that reinforced her resolve with compelling, confessional storytelling. In the album's title track, she ruminates on patience waiting for her current boyfriend, Cat Stevens to show up, already considering if “these are the good old days.”

Carly Simon | “Haven't Got Time For The Pain” [1974]

Taking a detour from Simon’s often steely lyrics, here she celebrates domestic bliss with upbeat orchestration. However, the song's joyous chorus pivoting around the word “pain” still leaves an impossibly ominous feel overall.

Carly Simon | “Nobody Does It Better” [The Spy Who Loved Me] [1977]

The prestige of recording a James Bond theme song is up there with music’s greatest accolades and Carly Simon’s sultry rendition of the sanguine power ballad, written by Marvin Hamlisch for the 1977 cult-classic The Spy Who Loved Me sits among the best of them. In her own words – nobody does it better!

Carly Simon | “You're So Vain” [1972]

Arguably her greatest work, “You’re So Vain” has spawned 50 years of speculation about who the self-absorbed subject might be with a perfectly crafted pop song, unforgettable for its refusal to tell – it's a triumph of irony that remains one of pop’s great mysteries to this day. Possible protagonists include James Taylor and Warren Beatty, but surely the song's true power lies in the fact it can be about anyone – and we all know someone who fits. 

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