Carly Simon Ken Tucker - Essay

Ken Tucker

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

"Cowtown," a song Carly Simon has written for Another Passenger, tells the story of a cagey French woman named Simone Swann who marries a Texas millionaire for his money, and because she's lonely. In the second verse, Swann prepares to accompany the Texan to his native land…. [Simon's song] is the sort of lucid, humorous and concise observation for which Randy Newman, say, would be praised to the skies. I'll venture a guess that Carly Simon won't be huzzahed for her verbal dexterity and wit, however. If past reviews are any indication, a goodly number of her notices will consist of arch compliments of the gams displayed on the back cover.

Another Passenger is Carly Simon's best record. (p. 60)

True, Carly Simon has produced a lot of average music, but what is more important is that she has never abandoned her original themes, something she might easily have done at any time. Simon is not a very original songwriter. Her melodies are similar; often her lyrics seem as if she had not worked very hard at them, taking the first clever rhyme that came to mind. But at her best she conveys the monied angst of the leisured with moving conviction, something no one else has ever done. Additionally, she is always further explicating and enhancing an exploration of her ego and her sexuality. It is extraordinary for a woman to say without a speck of self-consciousness or irony, as she does here on "In Times When My Head," that she "Know[s] none could compare with me/In my airy skirts and cool retreats."

This may not seem like much to radical prose writers, but it is still jolting stuff for pop music. (pp. 60, 62)

Ken Tucker, "Fire, Rain & Ennui, The Discreet Charm of James & Carly: 'Another Passenger'," in Rolling Stone (by Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. © 1976; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Issue 219, August 12, 1976, pp. 60, 62.