Carly Simon Enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame With a Golden Touch

The first time I saw Carly Simon perform onstage was at Madison Square Garden at the 1979 No Nukes concerts. Featuring artist-activists Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash & John Hall, the show sought to increase awareness about safe energy. When Carly and then-husband James Taylor hit the stage to perform their steaming-hot cover of “Mockingbird,” it was one of the sexiest live duets I’d ever witnessed. Her ferocious attitude said this girl’s got muscle.

Her performance got me thinking about how Carly had helped to shape my own self-confidence earlier in the decade. One of the most successful artists of the ’70s, Carly wrote and recorded a string of hits while evolving before our eyes and ears, overcoming a childhood stutter and morphing from gentle folkie into a full-on rock singer more than capable of holding her own with Mick Jagger.

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Although FM radio at the time was dominated by men, Carly managed to remain a Top 40 constant thanks to instant-classics like “Anticipation,” “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain,” “You Belong To Me” (a co-write with Michael McDonald) and “You’re So Vain,” with the aforementioned Stones singer on backing vocals.

With the latter, not only did she create a decades-long guessing game as to which of her (famous?) paramours was the narcissist in question, but the brilliant lyrics make it clear Carly Simon was not disposable … or meek.

Carly had the golden touch with movie-soundtrack singles, from her aptly named 1977 Bond theme “Nobody Does It Better” from “The Spy Who Loved Me” to “Coming Around Again” from the 1986 film “Heartburn.” And she made history in 1988 as the first artist to win an Academy Award, Grammy and a Golden Globe for a single song with “Let the River Run” from “Working Girl.”

Even with boatloads of talent, it’s challenging to maintain confidence in a man’s world, and the music business was (and still is) very much a boys club. Carly has expressed humility and gratitude to those who “heard” her when others didn’t — visionary Jac Holzman at Elektra Records, for one.

Over the years, it’s Carly who’s come to be recognized as a fierce forerunner for women in music, earning the gratitude from artists like Natalie Maines, Tori Amos and Taylor Swift, not to mention music lovers like myself who grew up witnessing her diverse talent and her durable feminine courage. In recognizing Carly Simon as a member of its Class of 2022, the Rock Hall finally honors this icon for both.

Meg Griffin can be heard on SiriusXM Classic Vinyl.

This essay is part of a series — in partnership with the on-air talent of SiriusXM — to pay tribute to the performers being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Nov. 5 in Los Angeles. Catch the complete Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2022 Induction Ceremony on HBO Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. ET, along with a simulcast on SiriusXM’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Radio (channel 310). SiriusXM listeners can also catch live, backstage coverage and commentary on Volume on the SXM app and on Faction Talk (channel 103).

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