- File Size: 8689 KB
- Print Length: 385 pages
- Publisher: Flatiron Books (November 24, 2015)
- Publication Date: November 24, 2015
- Sold by: Macmillan
- Language: English
- ASIN: B011LONEEC
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,747 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Boys in the Trees: A Memoir Kindle Edition
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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
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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 wanted to read the book because I like the music of Carly Simon and James Taylor and I was saddened that this talented duo could not make a success of their marriage. The details are a little haunting as this woman obviously loves him on some level even today after a total estrangement from him since their divorce. I think she did well in not dragging him through the mud in this and one suspects that there is much, much more to the story of their lives together. What she does include is just so sad. However, the bright spot is that they have two apparently talented and lovely children to show for the time they did have together.
The lesson one cannot ignore is how much damage a dysfunctional family can have on the psyche of a child. Carly was in emotional need much of her younger years and that followed her right into adulthood. Her song "Everybody Wants to Dance with My Daddy" is now understandable after reading how much she wanted to count in her father's life and how she felt she never quite did. Her mother was a tragic immoral mess. She was not protected from the abuse of a neighborhood teenage creep who took woeful advantage of a child not even 10 years old. Did all of that set the stage for a woman who says that she never wanted to think of herself as promiscuous, but who clearly was?
Yes, there is a lot of sex in this book because there was a lot in her life. One gets the impression that the marriage to James Taylor was supposed to be her forever-romance. There is the sadness. Were all those affairs with happening-men about sex or about trying to prove to herself that she could please a male/daddy figure after all? Again, maybe this can all be laid at the feet of poor parenting of her as a child.
There is great value in this woman as a mother. She obviously lives and breathes for her children, doing so when they were young and now that they are grown. Watching interviews with the three of them, one gets the impression that it is clearly mutual, their love for one another. Her talent and ability to write, not just song, but this book reveals the depth of her creativity. I enjoyed her writing style but had to ponder the nuances of it. She has a voice that doesn't quit, musically-speaking. You never hear her even come close to being "off".
I found this all, as I have said before, just so sad. This is by no means a six-hour read about who bedded her and who was "so vain". . It's way, way deeper than that.
A memoir she obviously enjoyed writing more than I enjoyed reading.
Top international reviews
All the Simon girls were musical, and, folk music being the in-thing, Carly and her elder sister Lucy formed a duo (the Simons Sisters, surprisingly…) which had some moderate success before Lucy left to get married. Carly carried on, got a record deal, and eventually No Secrets, and BAM! Then James Taylor comes into her life again, they get married, have kids, he cheats (serially), she accepts it for quite a while, for the kids as much as anything, then can’t take it any more, and they split. And that’s where this book ends.
What’s interesting about this book is that it’s very well-written and easy to read, and Carly is unflinchingly honest about what she did and who she slept with, even when it’s not a good look for her – being passed around Jack Nicholson’s mates may have felt like fun at the time, but hindsight suggests it was just that old white male privilege taking her for granted; and, yes, she did cop off with Mick Jagger around the time of You’re So Vain (although it wasn’t about him). Entertaining though it is to read about the bedhopping (not much drugs, though – that was James’s thing), for me personally, it’s sad to appreciate that, because of her relatively remote relationship with her dad and the low self-esteem from her position in the family, she spent much of her life seeking to please and appease men rather then looking out for herself. She is in a better place now, to be able to write with such frankness.
A very good read, lots of insight into the 60s and 70s scene, although it does grate a bit towards the end where she over-rationalises putting up with JT’s fuckwittery.
Yet, her experiences do, in many ways, mirror those of so many struggling to make sense of their life and trying to find the key to happiness and fulfilment. She is an evocative writer and can keep the narrative going in such a commanding way that the book is very hard to put down. For me it will need a re-read as it is so dense in the experiences it introduces us to.
Having read it you really do care about Carly and hope that she can find the peace, happiness and self reassurance that she seeks. Definitely not your average “show business biog” Read it and I feel sure you will be unfashionably uplifted and reassured about human resilience in adversity.
Thanks for sharing Carly.
I applaud her for laying bare her life in this way as it shows to me that it’s not just the everyday man that has such trials in their life.