One of the great confessional female pop singer/songwriters of the 70s, Carly Simon's most successful records were the James Bond film theme "Nobody Does It Better" and "You Belong To Me," a collaboration with Michael McDonald, both in 1977. Yet to two different generations, she may best be known by the inclusion of two other memorable classics in TV commercials. "Anticipation" was used for a prominent ketchup ad, and some twenty years after "You're So Vain" became a million seller, it was resurrected on the charts after a popular British TV spot.
In the early 60s, the native New Yorker, daughter of eminent publisher Richard Simon of Simon and Schuster, played Greenwich Village clubs with her sister Lucy. As the Simon Sisters, they had one minor hit in 1964 with "Winkin' Blinkin' And Nod" and recorded two albums of soft folk and children's material. Signed to Elektra Records by Jac Holzman, she broke through as a solo artist on the strength of her songwriting collaborations with film critic Jacob Brackman, who co-wrote her 1971 hit "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" and her later classic "Haven't Got Time For the Pain." After winning a Grammy for Best New Artist for her self-titled debut, she increased her audience with Anticipation in late 1971.
Her voice was given a rock accompaniment by Richard Perry on her third album No Secrets, which included her most famous song, "You're So Vain," whose target was variously supposed to be Warren Beatty and/or Mick Jagger, who provided backing vocals.
One of her more interesting mid-70s collaborations was the Top Ten revival of the Charlie and Inez Foxx song "Mockingbird" on which she duetted with James Taylor, to whom she was married from 1972-83. Their marriage and divorce were covered extensively in the tabloids. Their children, Sally and Ben, are also recording artists.
Her album Hotcakes hit the Top Three. During the latter part of the 70s, Simon was less prolific as a writer and recording artist although she played benefit concerts for anti-nuclear causes. In 1977, she scored a hits with the Bond theme, and her album Boys in the Trees featured the McDonald collaboration and another duet with Taylor ("Devoted To You"). Although concert appearances became rare after she collapsed onstage from exhaustion in 1980, Simon continued recording throughout the 80s, beginning with Come Upstairs and continuing on through her contributions to the motion picture soundtracks of Soup For One (the Top Ten UK hit "Why," produced by disco band Chic), Working Girl (the Grammy and Oscar winner "Let The River Run") and Heartburn ("Coming Around Again").
In 1990, after releasing an album of pop standards My Romance, her career came full circle when Lucy Simon was a guest artist on Have You Seen Me Lately?
A three-CD/cassette box set retrospective, Clouds in My Coffee 1965-1995 was released in November 1995, the same year she released the very personal Letters Never Sent. After a bout with writer's block and a breast cancer diagnosis in the late 90s, she entered the 2000s with The Bedroom Tapes.