Carly Simon Peter Reilly - Essay

Peter Reilly

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Carly Simon's new album "Playing Possum" … is an intelligent, mind-warming romp and an almost continuous musical joy…. [She] has gotten her head together, in 1975 terms, better than any other young female composer-performer around.

The sexual revolution? Put such pedestrian back-numbers out of your mind. Carly has clearly moved beyond all that. Listen to her in Look Me in the Eyes…. Quite frank, as we used to say, but also as clear-eyed, healthily straightforward, and up-to-the-minute as can be for an honest woman dealing with these matters today.

Slightly more ambivalent is her approach to the Lib game in Slave…. [The] song is a statement of fact, how things are, and not a cry of impotent rage. The point is that it's all role playing; we cannot choose no role, but we can choose among the number available, even the one called the path of least resistance. And choice is not without its dangers too, according to Carly (and Jacob Brackman) in Attitude Dancing—… for even choosing can become a habit, a role, condemning the player to a life of confused, directionless (even though self-manipulated) jostling. The best song here, however, is the title song, Playing Possum. It's about whatever happened to The Revolution, it echoes with little whispers of frustrated cultural possibilities, perhaps sinister, perhaps pathetic, and it will make you think. (pp. 73-4)

[The album] at least temporarily sums up a number of current social conundrums better than might any learned dissertation by one of the paper pundits of the media. (p. 74)

Peter Reilly, "A Thoughtful Report from the Home Front by Investigator Carly Simon," in Stereo Review (copyright © 1975 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), Vol. 35, No. 2, August, 1975, pp. 73-4.