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Boys in the Trees: A Memoir Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 24, 2015
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An Amazon Best Book of December 2015: In the trees is just about the only place in Carly Simon’s world that there aren’t boys, suggests this unputdownable memoir by the beloved singer and the first artist in history to win a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award for the same song ("Let the River Run" from the movie Working Girl). Growing up the privileged but congenitally anxious daughter of a high-flying publishing executive, Simon learned early on – perhaps from her mother, who moved a much younger male “assistant” into the house when the Simon sisters were small – to crave love and attention. Some of this she got, of course, from performing, even though she famously suffers from crippling stage fright. The rest she sought from men – and her encounters with guys known mostly by their bold-faced first names – Mick, Warren, Jack – are well (and sometimes painfully honestly) documented here. (And yes, she finally reveals who her song “You’re So Vain” refers to – sort of.) But it is the story of her marriage to fellow musician and Martha’s Vineyard resident James Taylor – whom she met first as a young teenager – that is the most resonant. Although the union lasted two decades, and produced two children – and despite the fact that Simon and Taylor are now not in touch – it is clear that JT is Simon’s real-life torch song, the original man who got away. – Sara Nelson
"Intelligent and captivating...Don't miss it." - People Magazine
"One of the best celebrity memoirs of the year ... elegantly written and revealing." - The Hollywood Reporter
"Carly Simon could have gotten away with just the name-dropping. In her life, she's crossed paths with an astonishing range of famous people, from Cat Stevens and Jimi Hendrix to Benny Goodman and Albert Einstein. So it's a pleasant surprise that in her compelling new autobiography, Boys in the Trees, she lays out her naked emotions and insecurities, and that she proves to be a supple writer with a gift for descriptions."- Rolling Stone
"A lyrical look back at her childhood, her career, and oh, the men in her life...anecdote-filled...dishy without being salacious. There’s plenty here for fans to feast upon" - USA Today
“Boys in the Trees meets its lofty expectations. As one of pop music’s more literate songwriters ― she was the first solo woman to win a Best Song Oscar for Let the River Run from Working Girl ― Simon writes beautifully and affectingly. Her publisher father, for whom she clamored for attention and validation, would be proud.” – Miami Herald
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But back to the book - it is not what the headlines make you think it is. It is a serious, beautifully written account of the life of a popular but under appreciated artist, that was charmed in parts, deeply romantic in others and downright upsetting elsewhere. It is riveting too - I can't think of many other books that would have had me reading straight through for five hours until it started getting light out. Mostly it is an account of a difficult marriage, that is to say, between her and James Taylor. They were the king and the queen of the 1970s. A lot of people have wondered what it was really like between them and in this book we finally have the answer. But Carly Simon is always respectful and loving towards him, even though she is also very very frank about what went on. The book ends in the early 80s which makes me wonder if there will be a second book! All in all, this book puts you under a spell that will make you want to play all her music all over again and remember what it was like back then. Highly recommended!
I was hooked from the very first paragraph. "This day may have been THE day, the very day when my identity was born. Before the incident occurred, I didn't think about who I was. After, I would spend the rest of my life testing myself to see if I had been right."
Her writing style is elegant and eloquent.
Ms Simon gracefully leads the reader through her life piecing together her self identity all the while keeping the reader riveted with an astonishing storytelling talent.
Yes all the fun (and surprises!) of the famous relationships and names are here, framed with the songs and music they inspired, but most important, for me, is the story of a woman coming to terms with her own life long quest for love, understanding and forgiveness.
She also demonizing her mother for committing adultery, without realizing for her mother to do what she did and for her father to do nothing about the matter, obviously means she is missing something important about the authenticity of her parent’s marriage. Moreover, isn’t it quite possible her father actually self-destructed, and thus was not destroyed by others? That does not make him heroic. A father who makes his young daughter feel unwanted, untalented and ugly also is not heroic.
In addition, Carly Simon came across in this book as someone who sleeps with the enemy, sleeps with those who use her. Not uncommon for someone who was sexually abused as a child, as Ms. Simon was by a family friend. She says when she told her sisters about the abuse and they told her mother, her mother only banned the boy from their home for a month. And then goes on to say she never knew why her mother did that. Really? She never asked her mother as an adult why she did that? She defends casanovas like Warren Beatty and Mick Jagger, too, explaining why they are such special men who should not be negatively judged, as well as talks about being “passed around” by a group of guys in the music business, when she first started going solo. She apparently sees this all as being what a liberated woman is like, as opposed to being a used woman.
It’s her life, though, and she can see it as she wants. But she unfortunately comes across in this memoir more like an emotional mess than anything else, ping-ponging back and forth, always eventually losing the ground she makes. Such a life can lead to good songs and singing, however. It obviously did with her. Also, this memoir ends with her breakup with James Taylor, which was many, many years ago. There was an epilogue, but it revealed little about what went on in her personal life since that time. If Ms. Simon did reach a point in life where the ping-ponging stopped, she should publish another memoir. Her writing is not bad at all, and this book was far more interesting than so many other books by and about those in the music field.
P.S. It's interesting when you think you know what a song means and discover years later you were wrong. I always thought Legend In Your Own Time was a sardonic type of song about a man not becoming highly successful, not becoming a legend, as his mother always told him would happen when he was grown. According to this memoir, however, it's actually a sincere song about James Taylor's success in the music field. And, once again, this is another example of a woman, emotionally abused by men growing up, who adoringly speaks or sings of an emotionally abusive man.
*That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be
I got the feeling in some parts that what she *wasn't* saying was almost more telling than what she was, and that was particularly true during the parts about James. A lot of that is written in sort of a filmy, mystical tone where it's not entirely clear what was really happening. She might have been trying to protect him or some of the memories/painful parts. Or to protect their children? It's impossible to know.