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Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--And the Journey of a Generation by [Weller, Sheila]
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Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--And the Journey of a Generation Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The epic story of three generational icons, this triple biography from author and Glamour senior editor Weller (Dancing at Ciro’s) examines the careers of singer-songwriters Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, whose success reflected, enervated and shaped the feminist movement that grew up with them. After short sketches of their early years, Weller begins in earnest with the 1960s, switching off among the women as their public lives begin. A time of extremes, the 60s found folk music and feminist cultures just beginning to define themselves, while the buttoned-down mainstream was still treating unwed pregnant women, in Mitchell’s terms, like you murdered somebody (thus the big, traditional wedding thrown for King, pregnant by songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, in 1959). Pioneering success in the music business led inevitably to similar roles in women’s movement, but Weller doesn’t overlook the content of their songs and the effect they have on a generation of women facing a lot more choice, but with no one to guide them. Taking readers in-depth through the late 80s, Weller brings the story up to date with a short but satisfying roundup. A must-read for any fan of these artists, this bio will prove an absorbing, eye-opening tour of rock (and American) history for anyone who’s appreciated a female musician in the past thirty years. B&w photos. (Apr.)

Review

"Both scholarly and dishy. A superb journalist, Weller has managed to uncover a trove of unreported facts on her subjects." -- People **** (Pick of the Week)

Product Details

  • File Size: 2251 KB
  • Print Length: 593 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (April 8, 2008)
  • Publication Date: April 8, 2008
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0013TPWWI
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,672 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on April 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
525 pages about Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon --- and this is my candidate for "beach book of 2008" for smart boomer women?

I'm not kidding. It's that good. And that addictive.

Just read the opening section about 14-year-old Carole Klein, sitting with her friend Camille Cacciatore as they leaf through the Brooklyn phone book in search of a name. Kick...Kiel...Klip. How about King? Yeah, King. And then it was off to Camille's house, where the choice was spaghetti-and-meatballs or peppers-and-onions.

Anyone can use clips and rumor to write about the famous. Sheila Weller puts you in the room. Her methods are exhaustive journalism --- she's written six books, she's won prizes, she's the real deal --- and empathy. So the path from nowhere to immortality for King, Mitchell and Simon is an epic tale, and Weller's scope is vast --- to track "the journey of a generation." Only on the surface is this a book about music, and who makes it, and how, and why. The bigger subject, the better subject, is how women found their way in their professional and personal lives, 1960-now. So, for Weller, these stories are about "a course of self-discovery, change, and unhappy confrontation with the limits of change."

Limits?

Consider this: In 1960, H.W. Janson's "History of Art" --- the standard textbook --- cited 2,300 artists.

How many were female?

Not one.

That's the culture these women were entering. Women as decorative armpieces. As silent helpers. Sexual objects. And uncomplaining victims.

Each of these women fought that culture. Not because she wanted to --- simply out of biography and necessity. Joan Anderson gets polio as a kid, and her creativity is pushed inward.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everything in GIRLS LIKE US will be amazingly familiar to those of us born in the bay boom, and yet Sheila Weller, a talented if erratic prose stylist, brings us to emotional places that will be new to all but those most intimate with the trio of songwriters whose lives, she declares, form a "journey of a generation." I don't know if I'd go that far, but I'm not a woman, and Weller's argument is that King, Simon, and Mitchell pushes back the barriers for women specifically, "one song at a time."

The cryptic one remains Carole King, whom Weller just can't illuminate in any meaningful way. Her life was amazing--up to a point, then it stopped being of any interest at all, which is a shame. We hear again and again how she wrote all those Brill Building masterpieces before she was 21, and broke down under the strain of a troubled marriage to a high-stakes husband and lyricist, Gerry Goffin, coming out the other end with an LP. Tapestry, that everyone loved. Then what happened? Bad men galore, attracted to her wealth. She once estimated that every time she divorced a man, it cost her a million dollars. Weller gives us all the facts ad nauseam but we always wonder, why did King do this to herself?

Carly Simon, on the other hand, who cooperated with Weller extensively or so it seems, comes off as nearly normal. Of the upper, upper middle class, Simon was to the manor born and the icy, plangent chords of her first song, "That's the Way I Always Heard It Should Be," gave notice that the old New Yorker fiction writers of the 40s and 50s hadn't died, they had just rolled over and told Carly Simon the news.
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Format: Hardcover
My immediate thought when I read this comprehensive three-fold biography was Allison Anders' evocative but episodic 1996 Grace of My Heart, a fictionalized biopic of Carole King's career in the 1960's. Similar to the approach taken with the movie, author Sheila Weller covers more than the music of the times but also the constraining era in which they all came of age. When King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon were growing up (they were born within four years of each other), women were either placed in traditional homemaker roles or relegated to a cultural abyss if they dared to pursue artistic professions. In an often dishy but nonetheless enlightening book, Weller does an admirable job surveying the times when these three singer-songwriters first emerged and crossed paths on their way to popular mainstream success.

Their backgrounds could not be more different. King was a middle-class Brooklyn native who grew up listening to classical music and Broadway show tunes, while Mitchell was a dyed-in-the-wool bohemian poet who moved from the Canadian prairies to Greenwich Village and later Laurel Canyon. Born in privilege to a family ensconced in publishing (Simon & Schuster), Simon was a rich girl who went the folk singer route with her older sister Lucy. Even though each persevered against the going mindset and managed professional success on a measured level (and in King's case, quite a portfolio of Brill Building hits co-written with first husband Gerry Goffin), each ultimately created a work that provided a turning point in their careers. King had 1971's mega-selling
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