Two Grammies, 22 albums and 14 top 10 songs later, Simon is still writing, singing, and after a 10-year break, touring. Now 60, Simon is promoting her current CD, “Moonlight Serenade.” The collection of standards debuted at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 album chart in July. She’ll begin her concert tour in November.
Congratulations on the success of this album — to debut in the top 10 — how does that feel?
It feels like ... why not? I mean, if other people, why not me?
Your album is all standards — but standards, particularly the love songs, seem to have an idyllic look at love, while the love songs that you’ve written yourself in the past address love in a more complicated or complex way. Is that intentional?
These songs were all picked for their positive look at love. Now that’s the first time I’ve done that because I’m much more attracted to the cynical, to the ironic, to the unhappy, to the longing. I just heard a phrase, somebody said to me recently, ‘women love to long.’
Is that you? Are you a ‘longer’?
I guess I’m a ‘longer,’ but most of my other albums, the three other albums I’ve done of standards have songs like “I Get Along With Out You Very Well” and “Spring Is Here,” which is an ironic song.
For your upcoming DVD, you performed for guests on the Queen Mary 2, but I remember that you used to get stage fright. Do you still get nervous?
I haven’t gotten nervous recently, but maybe that’s because I haven’t performed in front of anyone recently! I haven’t felt quite the intensity that I used to when I was younger. And you know, it could change tonight. It could change tomorrow night. I never know what to expect with my nerves. My nervous system definitely, as my son says, lives outside of by body.
Do you sing in the shower?
I don’t have a shower.
Do you sing in the tub? Don’t say you don’t have a tub...
I have a tub — I have a major tub. I’m very drawn to tubs.
Sometimes, I think the reason people are so attracted to singing in showers is that shower stalls have a very good natural reverb. And so they — people who don’t sing — like the sound of their own voices in the shower because they can’t tell if they’re bitterly off tune. (laughs)
If I could give you a magic wand and you could take one question that you always get asked, and never be asked about it again — what would it be? (I think I know which one it is...)
Well you’re gonna say the one about “You’re So Vain”...
(Note: fans of Carly Simon know that her hit “You’re So Vain” has sparked questions and gossip about the song’s central character since its release. While Simon has never said publicly who the song is written about, many speculate it was one of the famous men linked with her at the time: Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Kris Kristofferson, even Mick Jagger, who sang backup on the track.)
I don’t care about that question. It’s not annoying.
OK, about your 1972 hit song “Anticipation” — I hadn’t known that you wrote that song on a night that you were about to have a date with...
Cat Stevens. If they were around and interested in me when ‘Anticipation’ came out, they probably would know that.
There’s another generation out there that’s going to think ketchup. Is Cat comfortable with the ketchup commercial being what some folks remember?
It’s funny — I haven’t seen or heard from him in 25 years and (this summer) I got a call from him just completely out of the blue and he said — ‘Carly this is Yusuf Islam’, and I had no idea who it was.’ (Editor’s note: Stevens changed his name after converting to Islam.)
And I said, ‘Is it you, Steve?’ He was adorable. He had called to wish me a happy birthday!
What is it that you hope the songs on this CD bring to people?
I hope that it will make them be able to connect with a part of themselves that’s more innocent — with a part of themselves that has a real tenderness.
Carly Simon’s “Moonlight Serenade” is currently in record stores. Her DVD will be released next month.)